Ken Osmond, best known for his role as the troublemaker Eddie Haskell on the television comedy “Leave It to Beaver,” died on Monday morning. He was 76.
Sources tell Variety Osmond died at his Los Angeles home surrounded by family members. The cause of death is unknown.
“He was an incredibly kind and wonderful father,” Osmond’s son Eric said in a statement. “He had his family gathered around him when he passed. He was loved and will be very missed.”
Henry Lane, Osmond’s former partner at the Los Angeles Police Department, also confirmed the news and said he had suffered from respiratory issues.
After “Leave It to Beaver” finished its run in 1963, Osmond returned for the telefilm “Still the Beaver” in 1983 and for the revival series “The New Leave It to Beaver.” His sons on the series were played by his real-life sons Eric and Christian. He returned to the role a final time in 1997’s feature film “Leave It to Beaver.”
Osmond, a native of Glendale began his career as a child actor with his first speaking part at age 9 in the film “So Big,” starring Jane Wyman and Sterling Hayden, followed by “Good Morning, Miss Dove” and “Everything but the Truth.” He also guest-starred on television series, including “Lassie,” “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” “Wagon Train,” “Fury” and “The Loretta Young Show.”
In 1957, Osmond auditioned for the Eddie Haskell role, which was originally intended to be a guest appearance, but those involved with the show were so impressed with Osmond’s portrayal that the character became a key component of the series throughout its six-season run of 234 episodes.
Osmond portrayed Haskell as sycophantic to grownups while making fun of them behind their backs. He was a high school friend of Wally Cleaver, older brother of Theodore “the Beaver” Cleaver, and constantly trying to entice his friends into activities that would get them into trouble. During the final years of the show, Osmond was in the U.S. Army Reserve.
When the series ended, Osmond continued working as an actor, appearing on “Petticoat Junction,” “The Munsters” and a return appearance on “Lassie.” He appeared in feature films “C’mon, Let’s Live a Little” and “With Six You Get Eggroll,” but found himself typecast as Eddie Haskell.
Osmond joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1970 and grew a mustache to be less recognizable. In 1980, Osmond was shot in a chase with a suspected car thief, though he was saved by his bulletproof vest. He was put on disability and retired from the force in 1988.
Osmond filed a class-action lawsuit in 2007 against the Screen Actors Guild, asserting that SAG had over-stepped its authority in collecting foreign royalties without disclosing the collection agreements until he and Jack Klugman threatened to file suit. The action was settled in 2010.
“Leave It to Beaver” star Jerry Mathers shared a tribute to his co-star on Twitter.
“I will greatly miss my lifelong friend Ken Osmond who I have known for over 63 years. I have always said that he was the best actor on our show because in real life his personality was so opposite of the character that he so brilliantly portrayed,” he said.
I will greatly miss my lifelong friend Ken Osmond who I have known for over 63 years. I have always said that he was the best actor on our show because in real life his personality was so opposite of the character that he so briliantly portrayed. RIP dear friend. #kenosmond pic.twitter.com/dnVHUEghOC
— Jerry Mathers (@TheJerryMathers) May 18, 2020
He is survived by his wife, Sandra, and two sons, Christian and Eric.