Readers, I am shocked and scandalized by the behavior I have just witnessed from one Miss Barbara Billingsley.
Remember her? She was Beaver’s mother. As American as they come. Wore pearls and high heels while she vacuumed.
June Cleaver is not who she claims to be.
I looked up a little background on the late actress who played June. Barbara Billingsley was a minor-role actress for many years, also playing minor roles in the early years of television. She was able to travel with stock companies and learned quite a bit about her craft. Those who worked with her said she was a much better actress than the roles she obtained allowed.
She gained fame as Beaver’s mother from 1957-1962.
Before “Leave it to Beaver,” Barbara was seen on some short-lived sitcoms, but also on some anthology series, a sort of televised theater in which a company of actors played various roles. Many of the anthology programs appeared to be abbreviated movies and had the same sweeping music and overly dramatic quality that motion pictures had at the time. Many of these shows also starred well-known movie stars such as Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Newman, Geraldine Page and many others.
One such show, titled “Sound Off, My Love” was shown on a program called Four Star Playhouse, which aired on CBS from 1952-1955. This particular show starred movie actress Merle Oberon as a lady named Martha whose hearing was almost completely gone.
The movie begins with her struggling to keep her hearing problem a secret from her husband and friends, avoiding accidents including her husband almost running over her with the car. Her best friend, Betty, played by our very own June/Barbara, is supportive and loving, and gently tells her friend she’s been waiting for years for her to give up her silly pride and agree to hearing aids.
However, Martha still keeps the hearing aids a secret from her husband; wearing them but fixing her hair so he cannot see them. One evening, she actually hears her supposedly faithful husband talking to a mistress about killing her.
As we expect, poor Martha can only confide in her faithful friend Betty. Billingsley exudes the warmth and down-to-earth quality we all know and love, and as viewers, we feel that Betty’s friendship will be the only hope Martha has.
Betty gives Martha the keys to her family’s hunting cabin and promises not to tell anyone where Martha is going.
Off Martha goes, driving to the country to collect her thoughts and plan her next move – all the while believing she is safe from her murderous husband.
Later that evening, Martha comes out to meet the headlights of a car, and we are led to believe it’s being driven by the faithful Betty. However, it’s the murderous husband and we wonder how he tracked Martha to the cabin in 1953?
You guessed it. The “other woman,” the mistress who knew about the murder plot was the good, wholeseome, faithful and down to earth Betty.
No foolin’. June Cleaver. Can you believe it?
I won’t tell you how it all ends, but you can see the show on Tubi, which is a free app on smart TVs and Firesticks. Give some of those old shows a gander.
I’m a big fan of early television and find it all pretty interesting.
Above all, I’m still reeling from that little harlot, June Cleaver. I don’t know if I will ever recover.