All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!


Odd Calling

Can you guess this man's identity?

b Feb 16, 1909, Lawrence Kansas
d May 14, 1982, Munich Germany

Was a Boy Scout
Graduate of the Baylor School
Played football for the University of Chattanooga
Earned a Masters of Theology from USC
Ordained Methodist Minister
Conservative Republican
Minnesota Christmas Tree Farmer

In all fairness, if I told you the man's name you'd immediately know who he was and what he was famous for.  He is famous, even though the thing he is best known for he stopped doing in 1963. 

In the 1930's ministers didn't typically make a lot of money.  They also didn't typically have a lot of other marketable skills.  After all, getting up in front of people and talking isn't generally a high paying career path.  They hadn't invented consultants or Power Point yet.  A preacher was the closest thing to a motivational speaker folks had.

To make a couple of bucks, a guy with a good speaking voice could sometimes get a little work down at the radio station.  Radio was in its infancy and inexpensive recording and play back methods were in short supply.  Someone with a good voice might make a little money reading stories, doing ads etc.  If you had a little exposure on the radio you could sometimes get a paid part doing community theater.

We're not talking about big money.  Fifty cents here, a couple of bucks there, was about all an actor could expect under these circumstances.  If you were a Methodist minister living off of contributions and the occasional invite home to dinner during the Great Depression a few dollars extra was a big help.

Ministry is a kind of work that offers its own satisfaction but normally not a lot of income.  If you could be a minister and support yourself financially by acting, then things might not be so bad.  A fella might even be able to afford a wife and family that way.  By the end of 1942 Eugene had 15 feature films under his belt, as well as a wife.  Three children followed.

From the time he was 22 years old in 1931 until 1946 when he earned his Master of Theology degree at the age of 37, Eugene used acting to pay the bills in an effort to fund ministry.  He continued doing ministry during his acting career.  When asked about the possible conflict between the two he said:
Sometimes my work as an actor presents a conflict with my ideals as a clergyman. I don't believe in the old saying that the end justifies the means, and no money that I can earn as an actor can accomplish so much good that I would feel justified in violating my ideals to earn it... If the question ever arises in a serious way, of course I would have to give up my acting.
In 1957 Eugene was on set with a child actor and his mother doing a promotional film for Rose Hills Memorial Park.  A more accurate way to state "promotional film" is "long commercial".  Rose Hills is a funeral home and graveyard, not exactly "A list" Hollywood fair. 

Eugene was talking with Marilyn about how work had slowed down in the movie industry.  He was using acting to fund his family and ministry.  TV had cut into the movie business.  Things were getting a little tight, money wise.  That didn't keep Eugene from coaching and helping the young actor playing opposite of him.

The boy's mom took an instant like to Eugene and gave him a job lead.  Her son had just landed a TV show.  They might be able to use him.  After shooting that night a young boy said his bedtime prayers, he ended with, "Please God make the actor I worked with today my father in the new series."

That is how Eugene Hugh Beaumont, minister and actor with countless radio, community theater, industrial films, commercial appearances, and over 80 feature film appearances became Ward Cleaver.

From 1957 to 1963 Leave it to Beaver was considered a good show.  It wasn't a top show.  It was a solid addition to the line up.  In syndication in the 1970's it had a larger following than it did during its original run.  In the 80's and 90's cable kept Eddie, Wally and the Beav in front of audiences. 

While not as well known a Methodist as the Wesley brothers, Hugh Beaumont ended up with a bigger pulpit.  Ward Cleaver as dad was never as popular as Jim Anderson, but he did something few TV dads accomplished.

Ward Cleaver was either: the dad you had, the dad you wish you had, or the dad you should try to be.   No doubt Mr. Cleaver was more common in 1957 than in 1997 or will be in 2017.  Telling someone today that they have a "Leave it to Beaver" life or outlook is considered an insult.  It shouldn't be.  Hugh Beaumont represented the pinnacle of American Fatherhood.  His example was as fine a sermon as any preacher ever gave.


  1. Susan2:51 PM

    To be honest, I always loved the old shows where Dad was portrayed as decent, hardworking and actually had some intelligence. That is called respect of fatherhood.

    Not like the knuckle dragging idiots they are portrayed as today, with barely 5 grey cells to rub together. I think that is why the Cosby Show was so successful.

    It hit all the hot buttons that viewers like, Smart parents, successful professionally and they managed to have a decent set of kids, not the smartarses that Hollywood prefers.

    My biggest beef with these shows was always that mom cleaned the bathrooms and the oven while wearing pearls, stockings and heels. What kind of woman does that?

    It wasn't until the Dick Van Dyke show where Laura Petrie was actually wearing slacks to do her wifely house chores that I felt that realism was finally being portrayed.

  2. What kind of woman does that?

    One that gets guys of my generation hot under the collar. There are two kinds of clothing that men enjoy on their wife. 1. Cloths that make her look like a lady, and 2. Lingerie. Bonus if she starts out in an over layer that starts out feminine and lady like and peels down to the lingerie.

    Men married to stay at home moms know how hard their wife works at home. Having her take the extra time and effort to make herself look appealing for him when he hits the door is the frosting on the cake.

    Barbra Billingsley was as much a role model for the happily married wife and mother as Beaumont was for a great dad.

    1. Your generation? You just barely started this decade, while I am getting close to hauling it in a trailer(grin).
      You will get no complaint from me on your comment though, but I guess you aren't understanding my point.(sorry about that) It isn't the primping, every woman should do that IMO.

      It is that the media idea back then of a woman doing her dirtiest chores in her Sunday best(stockings, petticoats, heels) it just is not realistic or even practical. That is what I was talking about.
      I like women who dress, and I also love women who wear hats. Not the knit things, but actual hats. I own several and I love wearing them. Makes me feel British.

      My MIL is very old fashioned in that she will dress in slacks and a top for doing her housework, but she always without fail will change into nicer clothing if she had to leave the house to run errands. I am talking hair, jewelry, nicer clothes and shoes. She would never dream of dressing down for errands, even if it was just to get her perm at the hair salon.

      My dad and grandfather always admired the Laura Petrie character in her slacks. She looked nice, yet she could deal with her chores easily.

      The ladies in the business attire? They usually have the frilliest and wildest stuff on underneath.

    2. I understood your need to be practical.

      You are right, no self respecting women is going to mess up her good cloths or even a decent hair do to do chores.

      I've talked to a few people my age and most of them remember a time when almost everyone's mom stayed at home. I remember that time too. I can't say that I remember my mom getting dressed up for dad very often. I think when she did it meant we were getting a sitter and they were going out.

      For the record I first saw Leave it to Beaver in the late 70's. My brother and sister, who are several years younger than me don't remember a time when my mother wasn't working outside the home. I was among the first of the latch key generation, but I still remember what it was like when mom's were mom's.

    3. Susan5:04 PM

      When I was in school, it was a source of embarrassment to bring a meatloaf sandwich to school for lunch instead of buying school lunch. It just meant you didn't have a lot of money for buying school lunch.

      When my kids were in school, it was a source of absolute envy that my kids took meatloaf sandwiches to school for lunch. It meant that they had a mom that took the time to cook them good food.

      Even though from the mid eighties on I had a job, I still managed to make things like roast beef and chicken, casseroles and meatloaf. Helped that I had a mom and mil who were both top hands in the kitchen.

      I actually would have loved to buy school lunch every day because back then, all the schools in my town not only had cooks, they each had their own cafeterias. Also separate gyms. The food was really really good.

    4. I remember eating meatloaf sandwiches. I still have one every now and then.

    5. When I make a beef version, I put horseradish, Lee & Perrins, and cumin along with bread crumbs and the seasonings. For some reason, the horseradish really brings out that beefy flavor.

      My family purrs with delight when I inform them I am making a large meatloaf. They love the leftovers.

      I even have a Blue Plate noodle casserole recipe that I put chunked meatloaf in instead of beef or chicken. Total awesome sauce.

  3. Anonymous7:13 PM

    I thought I read that Billingsley had some kind of scar and that's why she wore pearls.

    1. Really? Makes sense. I will have to check that out. I loved her on one of the Airplane movies, doing the jive talk translation. That was awesome.

  4. Susan5:14 PM

    I just looked up the show on the Imdb website, and she indeed had a noticeable surgical scar on her neck. She said it was her idea to wear the pearls to hide that scar.
    Her first hubby was the cousin of the father of child actor Peter Billingsley, the little guy who did The Christmas Story classic movie.