Ken Osmond, who as a teen landed the role of wily troublemaker Eddie Haskell in the 1950s-era television comedy “Leave It to Beaver” and went on to serve as a Los Angeles police officer, during which he survived two close-call shooting incidents, died Monday, his family announced.
Osmond died at his Los Angeles home. He was 76 and had suffered from respiratory issues, Henry Lane, his former partner at the LAPD, told Variety.
Ken Osmond began playing Eddie Haskell as a 14-year-old in 1957. Eddie was a friend to Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow), the older brother of Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver (Jerry Mathers). Eddie visited the Cleavers’ perfect upper-middle-class home in nearly half the series’ 234 episodes. He was unfailingly polite to the adults: “Good morning, Mrs. Cleaver, that’s a very pretty dress!” he would say to June, the boy’s mother. Then he would go upstairs to Wally and Beaver’s room and be mean. In one episode, he taught Beaver unknowingly to say a phrase in Spanish: “Usted tiene una cara como un puerco.” In English: “You have a face like a pig.”
June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley) never really bought Eddie’s act. “I just don’t trust a 13-year-old boy that’s that polite,” she told her husband, Ward (Hugh Beaumont).
In 1983, Osmond returned to play an adult Eddie Haskell in an updated Leave It to Beaver. Osmond also made a number of guest appearances on other TV shows such as The Munsters and Happy Days, but he was typecast. He stayed popular as the actor who played the two-faced suck-up Eddie for decades thanks to reruns and fan events.
In real life, Osmond became a motorcycle officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.
In 2014, he co-wrote Eddie: The Life and Times of America’s Preeminent Bad Boy, a memoir. In the forward, Mathers wrote that Osmond was nothing like his character, but that “everyone knows an ‘Eddie Haskell’ and that’s why the character is so easily recognized and remembered.”