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About Eugene Hugh Beaumont
Eugene Hugh Beaumont (February 16, 1909 – May 14, 1982) was an American actor and television director. He was also licensed to preach by the Methodist church. Beaumont is best known for his portrayal of Ward Cleaver, the husband of June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley http://www.geni.com/people/Barbara-Billingsley/6000000009387491746) and the father of Wally (Tony Dow) and Beaver (Jerry Mathers) on the television series, Leave It to Beaver (1957–1963).
Although his obituary reported he was born in Lawrence, Kansas, Beaumont was actually born a bit to the east, closer to nearby Eudora, Kansas. His parents were Ethel Adaline Whitney and Edward H. Beaumont, a traveling salesman whose profession kept the family on the move. After graduating from Baylor School, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he attended the University of Chattanooga, where he played football. He later studied at the University of Southern California and graduated with a Master of Theology degree in 1946. He married Kathryn Adams Doty in 1942, and the pair had three children. They divorced in 1974.
In 1931, Beaumont began his career in show business by performing in theaters, nightclubs and on the radio. He began acting in motion pictures in 1940, appearing in over three dozen films (many roles not credited) before taking his best-known role as the archetypal philosophy-dispensing suburban dad Ward Cleaver on the popular sitcom television series Leave It to Beaver. In 1946-1947, Beaumont starred in five films as private detective Michael Shayne, taking over the role from Lloyd Nolan.
A precursor to his role as the kindly father figure came in Adventures of Superman. In a 1953 episode called The Big Squeeze, he played an ex-convict with a wife and son whose trust he must win back after an apparent return to his criminal past.
Before he and Barbara Billingsley were cast as the concerned parents in Leave It to Beaver, each had appeared separately in the early 1950s on Rod Cameron's syndicated detective series City Detective. He also appeared in one of the early episodes of the CBS western series, My Friend Flicka. He also guest starred in an episode of Frank Lovejoy's detective series, Meet McGraw.
Beaumont not only acted in Leave It to Beaver, he also wrote and directed several episodes, including the final, retrospective episode, "Family Scrapbook." His portrayal as head of the Cleaver household ranked #28 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" in the June 20, 2004, issue.
Beaumont did not like the role of Ward Cleaver much at all, believing that it typecast him and all but obliterated recall of his many other roles in film and on television.
After Leave It to Beaver ended production and went into syndication in the fall of 1963, Beaumont appeared in many community theater productions and did a few guest roles on TV shows, such as Mannix, The Virginian, Wagon Train and Petticoat Junction.
Beaumont was extremely unassuming. On one occasion in the early 1960s, he went alone to play golf at a course in the San Fernando Valley. He walked up to a twosome and asked if he could join them because the course was busier than expected. The twosome could not help but notice that other people were gawking and pointing at Mr. Beaumont. Unable to contain their curiosity any further, they asked Beaumont why everyone was watching and pointing at him. He replied, "Why, I'm Hugh Beaumont and I'm in television!"
Beaumont retired from show business in the late 1960s, launching a second career as a Christmas-tree farmer in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. His wife at the time, Kathryn Adams Doty, was born in New Ulm, Minnesota. He was forced to retire in 1972 after suffering a stroke from which he never fully recovered. On May 14, 1982, Beaumont died of a heart attack while visiting his son, a psychology professor, in Munich, Germany.