Ken Osmond died yesterday. In case you are unfamiliar with that name, he was the actor best known as Eddie Haskell on the late fifties to early sixties television sitcom Leave It to Beaver.
For the record, I’ve never seen the show, partly because my parents didn’t believe in television (much in the manner of James Thurber’s aunt, who didn’t believe in electricity) and partly because my family and I were living in Germany in those days. But as I was beginning to pursue my own career in Hollywood, I became aware of Ken Osmond when, in his second career as a Los Angeles police officer, he was shot and wounded during a pursuit.
Osmond had been a child actor and enjoyed moderate success before his iconic role as Eddie Haskell, the boy every mother in America prayed her son would not emulate. But after Leave It to Beaver, the jobs dried up, as jobs are wont to do in Hollywood. Ken Osmond had a wife and a child on the way, and no more career. He didn’t whine, he didn’t complain. He didn’t become an alcoholic or a drug addict. Instead, he got a job with the LAPD and took care of his family. That’s a good definition of manhood.
Rest in peace, Mr. Osmond.