For a classic comedy series from the 1950s, Leave It to Beaver has had some serious staying power, enduring still in reruns in the U.S.
Its appeal doesn’t end in North America, however; Beaver has been shown around the world.
In fact, the show’s star Jerry Mathers, who portrayed the title character, said that in one country he was astonished to learn his voice had been dubbed over by a young girl.
The writers of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ wanted to present the Cleaver family in the best light
Mathers explained in 2006 to the Archive of American Television that Leave It to Beaver‘s writers displayed an impressive amount of forethought in their script writing for the series. They wrote the show for American audiences, of course, but also for international ones, realizing they wanted to present a good image of the average American family.
“[Writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher] were very aware that Leave It to Beaver was one of the first shows about an American family and, especially, from a child’s point of view, to go around the world,” he said.
“Some of the shows that were family shows showed the United States but they didn’t have worldwide recognition. And so [the writers] were very, very conscious of presenting the United States in a very good light.
“Leave It to Beaver has played, and still plays, in 91 different languages in like 127 countries.”
‘Beaver’ had a feminine voice in this nation
If it ever bothered Jerry Mathers that his voice as a young boy was dubbed over in other countries by a little girl, it doesn’t show. He expressed in his interview that the show “plays in Farsi, Swahili, and Japanese.”
It was in Japan that he said it was rather bizarre to be voiced by a girl. It worked, he noted, in the earlier shows in which he was much younger. But as he grew and his voice deepened, in Japan-aired episodes at least, he still sounded quite feminine.
“In Japan, they have a little girl do my voice,” he said. “Which is fine for like the first three or four years. But at the end of it, I’m not only speaking Japanese but I have a little girl’s voice.”
Mathers told The New York Times in 2007 that “in Japan the show is called ‘The Happy Boy and His Family.’ So I’ll be walking through the airport in Japan, and people will come up and say, ‘Hi, happy boy!’”
‘Beaver’ was the real deal, Mathers said
Asked if the Cleavers accurately portrayed a family in that era, Mathers stated, “If you watch most of the shows today, they’re done by stand-up comedians and they’re setup, setup, joke.
“Leave It to Beaver is not like that. [On Beaver], there are really no big laughs on the show. The comedy comes out of the situation happening to the characters. It’s not a documentary of the ’50s.”
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