Barbara Billingsley,Â the epitome of the All American Housewife of the 1950s has died at 94. Barbara Billingsley, who played the ever perfect “June Cleaver”, mother to the mischievous Beaver on “Leave it to Beaver” from 1957-1963, and “The New Leave it to Beaver” from 1983-1989, died at her Santa Monica home surrounded by friends and family.
Her character, June Cleaver, was the role modelÂ for perfection in motherhood and home making for an entire generation of housewives. Always perfectly coiffed,Â and dressed in high heels and pearls, even while making breakfast, June Cleaver set the bar high for the ’50′s young mother and wife. The angriest she ever got was to quietly tell husband Ward, “Ward, I’m worried about the Beaver.“Â Is it any wonder thatÂ mothers of that era turned to liquor and Valium to cope with the stress?Â No one could possibly live up to her ideal.
Following “Leave it to Beaver”, Billingsley was somewhat pigeon-holed into the role of “perfect mom” and many of her subsequent roles played off or spoofed that fact. Many of her guest appearances on other shows had her playing “June Cleaver” in dream sequences andÂ flashback shots. She returned to the role that made her famous many times, including spots on “Roseanne”, “The Love Boat” and even “Movie Macabre,” according to IMDb.
Barbara Billingsley remained a working actress until 2004, and her last role was in a made for the USA network movie “Secret Santa.”
One of her most memorable roles however, was a bit part in the 1980 hilarious disaster movie spoof “Airplane,” playing “The Jive Lady.” No one expected sedate June Cleaver to talk like that. It was, and remains one of theÂ highlights of the movie. Watch it below, courtesy of YouTube: