Although the series was still earning good ratings, its star, Jerry Mathers, wanted to retire from acting to focus on his education upon entering high school. As a result, it was agreed to halt production and the series became the first prime time American production to have a series finale.
When filming was shifted to Universal's backlot (then known as Universal International) a new house was built. This house remained as a standing set and was later used for many other television programs and motion pictures. It is a popular attraction on Universal's Tour. More than forty years after the show ended, the still standing set is known as "The Cleaver House."
The pilot of the show, "It's a Small World", was first broadcast on April 23, 1957 on a syndicated anthology series, Studio 57 (1954). It did not have a laugh track nor an opening or closing theme. It never aired within the series itself. Max Showalter played Ward and Paul Sullivan played Wally. Sullivan was replaced because he experienced a sudden growth spurt after the series was picked up.
There are two indications that the Cleavers lived in Wisconsin. In one scene, Wally mentions the high school band is going to Madison to play for the governor. In another episode, the Cleavers are going to a pro football game and repeatedly refer to the Packers.
The house on Universal's backlot that was used for the exterior shots of the Cleavers' second home (in Season 3, after the move to ABC) was later used for the exterior shots of Marcus Welby's house. in Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969).
A popular rumor that surfaced about the show years later is that notorious rock legend Alice Cooper, in his younger years, portrayed Eddie Haskell on the show. This stems from a misinterpretation of an interview that Cooper had, in which he said that he was Eddie Haskell as a kid. He, of course, meant that he was similar in behavior and attitude to Haskell, Not that he portrayed him on the show.
The name of the state Mayfield was in was never mentioned, although it was said to be somewhere in the Midwest. But in one episode, the Beaver wanted to earn money with a paper route, to join-in with a friend to buy a surf board. That would suggest Mayfield is near the ocean.
The address of the first house the Cleavers owned in Mayfield was 485 Mapleton Drive, a reference to first season network CBS's then New York headquarters at 485 Madison Avenue. The address of their second home was 211 Pine Street.
Jerry Mathers wore his Cub Scout uniform to his audition. During the audition, he told the casting directors that he was anxious to leave for his den meeting. The producers were charmed with Mathers' innocent candor and cast him in the title role.
In the first two seasons of this show, it seemed that everyone in Mayfield, including the Cleavers, drove a product of the Ford Motor Company. Beginning in Season 3, apparently everyone went out and bought a new Chrysler Corporation automobile.
The show's situations were based on the experiences of the writers' children. Joe Connelly based Beaver and Wally on his own sons while Eddie and Larry were based on their friends. Connelly would take the boys out and record their conversations in his notebook.
Produced by Gomalco Productions (1957-61) and Kayro Productions (1961-63) in association with Revue Productions. Produced at Republic Studios (1957-59) and Universal-International Studios (1959-63). Originally syndicated by MCA-TV, more recently by Program Exchange.
Ward made at least four references to having attended high school in Shaker Heights, a town located between Mayfield and Cleveland, rendering yet another suggestion that Mayfield was most likely in Ohio.
The town of Mayfield, like the Cleaver family and virtually all of their friends, was thoroughly Caucasian, a trend that was well-established in television at the time (but about to begin changing). Among the rare exceptions in the Beaver series were the Varela family, whose son Chuey (Alan Roberts Costello) was Beaver's friend, and, like his parents, spoke only Spanish (Chuey's father was a diplomat from an unspecified South American country); the episode was Leave It to Beaver: Beaver and Chuey (1958). Another exception, this one a bit more stereotyped (again, typical of the era) was the African-American maid (played by Kim Hamilton) at the Langley home during the wedding reception in Leave It to Beaver: The Parking Attendants (1963).