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Ken Osmond Dead: The Mischievous Eddie Haskell on ‘Leave It to Beaver’ Was 76

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He played the notorious troublemaker on two versions of the show; in between, he was a motorcycle cop for the LAPD.

Ken Osmond, the Leave It to Beaver actor known for his convincing portrayal of the weaselly Eddie Haskell on two iterations of the classic TV comedy, has died, according to his son Eric. He was 76. No further details were given.

“He was an incredibly kind and wonderful father,” his son said in a statement Monday. “He had his family gathered around him when he passed. He was loved and will be very missed.”

Osmond was 14 in 1957 when he hired for what was supposed to be a one-episode gig and went on to appear on 96 of the original series’ 234 installments over six seasons. When Leave It to Beaver returned with an updated version in 1983, he returned to acting as well.

In between the two programs, he spent 18 years with the Los Angeles Police Department. In 1980, a suspected car thief shot him three times, leaving him severely wounded and effectively ending his days on the job.

As the best friend of Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow), Eddie was well-mannered and the epitome of polite when interacting with the adults of the show, especially Barbara Billingsley’s character — “My, you look lovely today, Mrs. Cleaver” — but was mean to Wally’s younger brother, Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver (Jerry Mathers).

He stirred up trouble for the first of many times when he, Wally and Beaver spy the couple moving in next door to the Cleavers on the series’ fifth episode.

“Boy, are you going to have creepy neighbors,” he tells Wally in his first scene. “Just look at the stuff that came in: No dogs, no cats, no fishing poles, no kids, just a crummy canary.” Then, after Mrs. Donaldson (Phyllis Coates of Lois Lane fame) gives Beaver a peck on the cheek as thanks for bringing her flowers as a welcoming gift, Eddie gets the poor kid worried: “Suppose her husband finds out?”

“The poster child for sneaky, rotten kids everywhere, he was the reference point for cautious mothers to warn their children about,” Mathers wrote of Haskell in the foreword to Osmond’s 2014 book, Eddie: The Life and Times of America’s Preeminent Bad Boy. “And everyone in America knew an Eddie Haskell at some point in his or her lives.”

Psychologists who recognize that some people reserve one personality for superiors and another for everyone else call that “Eddie Haskell Syndrome” or the “Eddie Haskell Effect.”

“One reason why workplace bullies may not be discovered is because they suck up to the authorities while bullying subordinates and peers behind their backs,” Ronald E. Riggio wrote for Psychology Today in 2011. “Just like Eddie Haskell from the old Leave it to Beaver show (who ingratiated himself to the parents while tormenting the Beaver), the bully pretends to be a model employee — but only when the boss is around.”

For the record, Mrs. Cleaver never trusted Eddie.

Kenneth Charles Osmond was born on June 7, 1943, in Glendale, California. “I had a typical stage mother as a child,” he said in a 2009 interview with the Los Angeles Daily News. “She had me dancing on stage before I was old enough to even have a memory of it.”

In his onscreen debut, Osmond played a child on the Mayflower in MGM’s Plymouth Adventure (1952), starring Spencer Tracy, Gene Tierney and Van Johnson, then appeared on episodes of TV shows including LassieFury and Annie Oakley.

He had three auditions before he was cast as Eddie. “It was not supposed to be a recurring role when I did the first show,” he said in a 2014 interview, “but apparently there was good feedback and the producers liked the character.”

The kid-centric Leave It to Beaver, created by Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher for Revue Studios, premiered on CBS on Oct. 4, 1957. After a year, it shifted to ABC for its final five seasons, wrapping up on June 6, 1963, with Wally apparently headed to college.

Afterward, the lanky Osmond appeared in guest spots on The Munsters and Petticoat Junction and in an uncredited role in With Six You Get Eggroll (1968) but found himself typecast.

“In the industry, that’s an absolute death sentence,” he said. “I would walk into a casting office and all they could see was Eddie. I couldn’t get work to save my soul. I had a few minor parts here and there, but nothing that’s going to sustain a life and a salary.”

He worked as a helicopter pilot and studio propmaker before joining the LAPD, bulking up on milk shakes and bananas to make the minimum weight to qualify for the job. (He said he wore a mustache so people wouldn’t recognize him from TV.)

In 1980, he and his partner were on motorcycle patrol for drunken drivers when they came upon a stolen taxi driven by Albert Cunningham. Following a crash and a chase on foot, Cunningham shot Osmond; his bulletproof vest stopped two bullets, and a third was deflected by his belt buckle.

“I saw a flash of light and the next thing I knew, I was flat on my back on the sidewalk, 10 to 15 feet away,” he testified during the penalty phase of Cunningham’s murder trial in 1988. “I was not able to move. I thought I was dying.” He said the shooting led to clinical depression.

Osmond regained his footing as Eddie on the 1983 CBS telefilm Still the Beaver, and that spawned The New Leave It to Beaver, which aired for four seasons (1984-89) on the Disney Channel and TBS. “As an adult, I could appreciate the industry so much more, he said. It was wonderful.”

His character, now a shady contractor, appeared on all 101 episodes of the new show, and his two boys were played by his real-life sons, Eric and Christian. “They’re great kids, never get in any trouble like Eddie did,” he said in 1989.

Osmond also played Haskell in the 1990s on the Universal feature adaptation of Leave It to Beaver and on the sitcoms Parker Lewis Can’t Lose and Hi Honey, I’m Home.

When Alice Cooper once said he was “Eddie Haskell as a child” — meaning that’s how he behaved — that got some to think that it was the rock star who had starred on Leave It to Beaver. That didn’t bother Osmond, but he was annoyed enough to sue when John Holmes billed himself as “Eddie Haskell” on a few X-rated films, triggering another urban myth.

The Holmes rumor “was a pain in my butt for 11 years,” he told TV Guide in 1988.

In 2011, Osmond received a settlement in a class-action suit in which he said SAG withheld millions of dollars in foreign royalties that belonged to actors.

In addition to his sons — Eric worked as a film editor with credits including The Wicker Man and Captain America: The First Avenger — survivors include his wife, Sandy, whom he married in 1969. 

His years on Leave It to Beaver were “unique in so many ways,” Osmond said. “So much of the industry, you read about ex-child actors who got into dope, or he was arrested trying to rob a liquor store. You’ve never read anything about anyone associated with Leave It to Beaver in a negative light. We just had a real family.”


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Why Nicole Avant Made Doc About Her Father – Variety

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When Nicole Avant was growing up in Beverly Hills in the 1970s and ’80s, her father, Clarence Avant, was one of the most connected and successful African American power brokers in the music industry. He launched record labels, owned radio stations and became a key figure in politics and the civil rights movement.

The Avant home was always buzzing with a stream of Hollywood and Washington insiders coming and going. “I knew that he was very powerful because the phone rang constantly and I always heard him fixing something or giving advice,” says Nicole, who made her producing debut with Netflix’s “The Black Godfather,” a documentary about her father. “And then I did see him on ‘Soul Train’ one day, and he was giving an interview with Don Cornelius. …That’s when I thought, ‘Oh, he must be a big deal because he’s on television.’”

That point is driven home by the documentary, which features interviews with Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, David Geffen, Jamie Foxx, Sean “Diddy” Combs and the late Bill Withers, whom Avant signed to his Sussex Records while the singer was still working as an aircraft assembler.

Nicole Avant, who is married to Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, says she had plans to shop the doc around before her husband snapped it up for the streamer. “I actually had this idea in my head since I was a little girl. I really did,” Avant, who served as Obama’s ambassador to the Bahamas, says on this week’s episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast “The Big Ticket.” “I had told Ted, even when I was dating him, there’s this idea I have for this film, and I said to him, ‘I’m going to take it to HBO.’ Once I started getting the interviews and everyone started confirming, Ted said, ‘Do you really have all these people saying yes?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, for sure.’ He said, ‘Let me take a look at it again.’ And then at that point, Ted is a part of the family, and he saw a solid film, and he saw an important film, and he actually wanted to tell the story just as much or even more than I did.”

What do you want people to know about your dad?

I really wanted people to take away that it’s important to have a strong sense of self. It’s important to keep moving forward. It’s important to pay back. It’s important to move the needle. Also, it’s very important to take risks in life. Sometimes you’re going to fail. Sometimes people are going to say no. So what? It’s a part of life. You keep going. You pick yourself back up again.

What did you learn about your dad while making the documentary that you didn’t know already?

I took it for granted how hard his childhood was and how abusive it was — having a stepfather, really beating up my grandmother in front of him and in front of the other children. My dad didn’t really have a childhood, and he took care of seven kids because everyone was working and they were so poor.

How hard was it to hear those stories?

Very hard for me. And it made a lot of sense when everything did fall down for him and everything blew up at one time and we lost everything. I think everything triggered to his childhood again of not having things he didn’t have or anybody to really rely on.

Tell me about a time in which someone really big turned up at the house and you were like, ‘What is this person doing here?’”

The one time I was very star-struck was when Whitney Houston showed up one day and I had just been listening to the “Greatest Love of All.” I’d sing it in the car like I was Whitney Houston. I was floored; I stood at the front door and I thought, “Oh, my God, this is a real celebrity. This is a big deal.”

If you were to make a scripted narrative about your dad, who would play him?

Forest Whitaker could play him because he knows him and he could “get” him actually.

This interview has been edited and condensed. Hear it in its entirety below. You can also listen to “The Big Ticket” at iHeartRadio or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.


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Even Prince William Has To Deal With This Classic Family Dinner Challenge

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There’s no question about it: lockdown has changed our lives and transformed the way we work. And that goes for royals, too. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have adapted, taking their royal duties online, via a number of zoom calls. But not everything has changed… On his latest call, Prince William revealed that even he has to deal with this classic family dinner challenge.

Speaking to representatives of the PEEK Project, a Glasgow-based charity, on May 20, the Duke of Cambridge said the success of his family meal depend very much on “what’s on the table”. Joking with community chef Charlie Farrally, Prince William agreed that dinner time can be very challenging: “If parents put something on that children love, dinner time goes very well,” he said. “But if you put something on the table they don’t want to do, that’s another ball game.”

PEEK Project, Possibilities for Each and Every Kid, have been working throughout COVID-19 to provide balanced, and hot meals for families in need. The Duke of Cambridge praised them for their work and pointed out the immense pressure that parents are under as well.

The PEEK project has been supported in it’s work throughout the pandemic by the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal. Were it not for lockdown, the Duke of Cambridge would have been in Scotland this week to meet representatives at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Obviously, this couldn’t go ahead face-to-face, but he still spoke to the chefs, volunteers, and the CEO via a video call. “I hope when I find myself up in Glasgow in the near future I can come and see you guys in person and congratulate you,” he added.


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Ozark’s Esai Morales to Replace Nicholas Hoult As ‘Mission: Impossible’ Villain – Find Out Why

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Esai Morales, known for his work in Ozark and How to Get Away with Murder, is joining the cast of Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8, director Christopher McQuarrie revealed on his Instagram on Thursday (May 21).

However, Deadline is now reporting that Esai, 57, is actually replacing Nicholas Hoult in the movie in the villain role for the films.

The reason why Nicholas is being replaced? The Coronavirus pandemic has delayed production of tons of movies and television shows across the globe. As a result, the “delay put Hoult in conflict with another commitment.”

The film currently has a release date of July 23, 2021, but that could change as many films have had to alter release dates due to the global health crisis.

If you missed it, Nicholas just made a super rare comment about his two-year-old son.


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