Ken Osmond was a character actor known, really, for one character. He played Eddie Haskell on the 1950s and ’60s TV sitcom Leave It to Beaver. But that character became a TV type.
Osmond’s son Eric told The Hollywood Reporter that his father died. “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.”
Ken Osmond began playing Eddie Haskell as a 14-year-old in 1957. Eddie was a friend to Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow), the older brother of Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver (Jerry Mathers). Eddie visited the Cleavers’ perfect upper-middle-class home in nearly half the series’ 234 episodes. He was unfailingly polite to the adults: “Good morning, Mrs. Cleaver, that’s a very pretty dress!” he would say to June, the boy’s mother. Then he would go upstairs to Wally and Beaver’s room and be mean. In one episode, he taught Beaver unknowingly to say a phrase in Spanish: “Usted tiene una cara como un puerco.” In English: “You have a face like a pig.”
June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley) never really bought Eddie’s act. “I just don’t trust a 13-year-old boy that’s that polite,” she told her husband, Ward (Hugh Beaumont).
In 1983, Osmond returned to play an adult Eddie Haskell in an updated Leave It to Beaver. Osmond also made a number of guest appearances on other TV shows such as The Munsters and Happy Days, but he was typecast. He stayed popular as the actor who played the two-faced suck-up Eddie for decades thanks to reruns and fan events.
In real life, Osmond became a motorcycle officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.
In 2014, he co-wrote Eddie: The Life and Times of America’s Preeminent Bad Boy, a memoir. In the forward, Mathers wrote that Osmond was nothing like his character, but that “everyone knows an ‘Eddie Haskell’ and that’s why the character is so easily recognized and remembered.”
Mathers tweeted on Monday that Osmond was a lifelong friend and the best actor on the show.
I will greatly miss my lifelong friend Ken Osmond who I have known for over 63 years. I have always said that he was the best actor on our show because in real life his personality was so opposite of the character that he so briliantly portrayed. RIP dear friend. #kenosmond pic.twitter.com/dnVHUEghOC
— Jerry Mathers (@TheJerryMathers) May 18, 2020