Flash! Barbara Billingsley reported dead
June Cleaver was the iconic TV mom. When you think of that 1950s All American Mother, cooking for the kids, cleaning the house, and talking it all over with her husband, June Cleaver is the beloved original.
Barbara Billingsley, who played the role from 1957-1963 (and repeated it a few times), has reportedly died.
She had many small parts before that, including on TV, but she’ll always be best-known for June. When the series ended, she largely dropped out of the scene until a hilarious cameo in 1980’s Airplane! While she was known for her wholesome image, she let loose a string of slang (including the “s word”) as a passenger on a plane in trouble who could translate “jive”.
She then returned to the June Cleaver mold, playing Mrs. Cleaver in the revival, The New Leave it to Beaver, and bringing the character as symbol to such shows as Roseanne.
Her last regular role was as the voice of the warm and caring Nanny on Muppet Babies.
While her character was parodied many times (especially for wearing pearls while cleaning house…which Billingsley said she did to cover a “hollow” in her neck), she’s also been cited as an inspiration by many people. She was the impossible Mom, the stay-at-home who kept her home in spotless condition, and let the man of the house know when she was worried about the kids. It’s a role that not many people can actually do, or perhaps would really want to do…but that model has helped inspire, to set a goal, for half a century.
“Mrs. Cleaver, may I say you’re looking especially lovely today?”
Good-bye, Barbara…the world’s family is a little smaller without you.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.