Every kid knew an Eddie Haskell.
That’s what Ken Osmond once said. Osmond, 76, who played Eddie, died Monday and left a hole in the hearts of millions of Boomers.
Osmond turned Eddie Haskell into a universal wise guy on “Leave It To Beaver.” He could be obnoxiously polite in front of parents (“Mrs. Cleaver, that’s a wonderful dress you have on”) and a semi-delinquent with no adults around (“Don’t listen to your old man, you little squirt”).
That was Eddie, rambunctiously portrayed by Osmond on the immortal Baby Boomer sitcom that ran from 1957 until 1963. The Baby Boom generation came of age with Beaver, played by Jerry Mathers, his brother, Wally, Tony Dow; parents Ward, Hugh Beaumont and June, Barbara Billingsley.
The Cleaver family was featured during the show, but Boomers knew who the real star was – Eddie Haskell.
Wally and Beav were squares.
Eddie was cool.
Eddie was also the kind of guy you love to hate.
“He was the type of kid when I was growing up, I’d want to punch him in the mouth,” said Stu Sachs, head of The Villages TV Nostalgia Club. “I think the thing that made Eddie such a great character was that he was so different than everyone else on the show.”
Eddie had a gift for causing trouble, especially for his best friend Wally and kid brother Beaver.
“When the stuff hit the fan, Eddie would say, ‘it’s time to leave,’” Sachs said.
Eddie is gone now but his memory lives on.
“Ken Osmond has been my lifelong friend and someone who I knew I could always go to for advice and good counsel,” Jerry Mathers, 71, told Fox News Monday, after learning of Osmond’s death. “I have always said that he was the best actor on our show because his real-life personality was so opposite of the character he so brilliantly portrayed. I will greatly miss him along with his countless fans all over the world.”
Tony Dow, 75, also spoke fondly of Osmond in a Facebook post. Dow told about his early meeting with him.
“I sensed right off the bat that Ken was a character and terrific actor,” he said. “He created a memorable role as my best friend (people still wonder why such a wisenheimer would be my bestie!) and will forever be remembered as one of the standouts in television history. We remained friends for 63 years…”
Osmond’s real life was far different than his television character. He spent his post-acting career as a motorcycle officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. He came back to the TV screen during the mid-1980s in the sitcom “Still the Beaver.”
In that show, his real-life son, Eric Osmond, played Eddie’s son and was a chip off the old block, almost as devious a character as his father.
“He was an incredibly kind and wonderful father,” Eric said in a statement. “He had his family gathered around him when he passed. He was loved and will be missed.”
But Eddie will live forever in reruns, which are broadcast across Florida and the world every day.
Here’s some of Eddie’s wisdom:
- “Look Sam, if you can make the other guy feel like a goon first, then you don’t feel like so much of a goon.”
- “(To Wally): Your father gave me a funny look when I came in… like I’m a teenage werewolf or something.”
- “Hey Wally, nobody’s home. Let’s call up some girls and pretend we’re talent scouts.”
My favorite Eddie episode was “Beaver’s Fear.” Beaver is deathly afraid of the rollercoaster at the amusement park and Eddie keeps telling him how awful it will be.
“Hey look, one of the guys heads fell off,” Eddie cracks before getting on.
Well, Beaver and Eddie get on the coaster and while Beaver enjoys the ride, Eddie is scared out of his wits – and looks sick.
So it went for Eddie Haskell, the kid you loved to hate but couldn’t help but like – thanks to Ken Osmond.