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aka Ward Cleaver
Eugene Hugh Beaumont was born in Lawrence, Kansas, on February 16, 1909. After graduating from high school he enrolled at the University of Chattanooga, where he played football; he left when his position on the football team was changed. He then attended the University of Southern California, from which he graduated with a Master of Theology degree in 1946. He married Kathryn Adams in 1942, with whom he had three children.
Beaumont began his show business career while still in college, performing in theaters and nightclubs, and on the radio in 1931. Working as a lay minister to pay the bills, he gradually gained enough stage experience to make his way to Hollywood, where he arrived in 1940. With many potential leading men away fighting in World War II, Beaumont had little trouble finding work. Between his first movie role, in Good Bad Boys (1940), and his move to television in 1957, Beaumont appeared in over eighty films, including five in which he inherited Lloyd Nolan's screen role of detective Michael Shayne. Although the majority of his screen appearances were either minor roles or uncredited entirely, he established himself as a very talented character actor and contributed memorable moments to such films as The Blue Dahlia (1946), The Guilt of Janet Ames (1947), and Money Madness (1948).
Beaumont would not achieve true critical success, however, until he was cast as the philosophy-dispensing suburban dad Ward Cleaver on the situation comedy Leave It to Beaver in 1957. Although he was initially reluctant to accept the role for fear it would ruin his chances for good film roles, Beaumont quickly became one of the most famous fathers in America and stayed with the series until its cancellation in 1963.
After Leave It to Beaver went off the air, Beaumont appeared in community theater productions and did a few guest roles on television shows like Mannix, The Virginian, Wagon Train and Petticoat Junction. He retired from show business in the late 1960's and became a successful Christmas tree farmer.
Beaumont died of a heart attack on May 14, 1982, while visiting his son in Munich, Germany.
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This page was last updated on 04/25/2017.