Barbara Billingsley Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (58)  | Personal Quotes (36)

Overview (5)

Born in Los Angeles, California, USA
Died in Santa Monica, California, USA  (polymyalgia)
Birth NameBarbara Lillian Combes
Nicknames Barbara Billinsley
Barbara Combes
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born Barbara Lillian Combes, she attended Los Angeles Junior College in the mid-1930s and then moved to New York City, where she worked as a model. In 1945, she received a contract from MGM, and she appeared in several films during the late 1940s and 1950s, sometimes without screen credit. In the 1950s, she turned to television and appeared in shows including the sitcoms Professional Father (1955) and The Box Brothers (1956), as well as guest-starring on "The Abbott and Costello Show", the David Niven anthology series, Four Star Playhouse (1952), and the sitcom, Mr. Adams and Eve (1957). In 1957, Billingsley began starring in the sitcom, Leave It to Beaver (1957), as "June Cleaver", mother to "Wally" and "Theodore", nicknamed "Beaver". She appeared in her most famous role for 234 episodes, remaining with the show until it ended after six seasons. After 17 years of semi-retirement, Billingsley returned to movies in 1980's Airplane! (1980), creating another iconic role by spoofing her wholesome image with a brief appearance in this send-up of 1970s disaster movies, as a middle-aged white passenger who could translate between a white stewardess and two African-American passengers, because "I speak jive". She also appeared in The New Leave It to Beaver (1983), which ran from 1983 to 1989, and voiced the character of "Nanny" in the Muppet Babies (1984) cartoon series, from 1984 to 1991. Billingsley continued to act occasionally, including appearances on the sitcoms, Roseanne (1988) and Empty Nest (1988), and died at her home, after having dealt for several years with the effects of a rheumatoid disease.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Family (3)

Spouse Dr. William Leigh Mortensen (28 June 1959 - 5 July 1981)  (his death)
Roy Kellino (15 November 1953 - 18 November 1956)  (his death)
Glenn Andrew Billingsley (11 October 1940 - 13 February 1947)  (divorced)  (2 children)
Children Billingsley, Glenn Jr.
Billingsley, Drew
Parents McLaughlin, Lillian Agnes
Combes, Robert Collyer

Trade Mark (4)

Her pearls
Her June Cleaver character
Deep husky, sultry voice.
Vacuuming while wearing high heels, a below the knee skirt or dress, and a string of gleaming white pearls (usually choker style) around her neck.

Trivia (58)

After the death of her second husband, Roy Kellino (who died prematurely of a heart attack in 1956), she married Dr. William Mortensen, a Santa Monica physician and widower, who was an old friend of Barbara and Roy's during their marriage.
After having grown up in Los Angeles, she attended Los Angeles Junior College for one year before moving to New York City, seeking a career on Broadway. After several auditions, she won a part as "Lureen Lee" in a new play, "Straw Hat", which was to open just after Christmas 1937, on Broadway. It closed after only four shows.
Daughter-in-law of W.P. Kellino.
Before Barbara, director/husband Roy Kellino was married to actress/syndicated columnist Pamela Ostrer (later to become Pamela Mason). During Pamela's marriage to Roy, she went by the stage name Pamela Kellino. Pamela later married (and divorced) actor James Mason, thereby becoming Pam.
She was briefly related, by marriage (1940-47), to actor/producer Peter Billingsley's father. Peter Billingsley is best known for his starring role as "Ralphie" in the seasonal TV-movie classic, A Christmas Story (1983). Barbara's first husband Glenn Billingsley's cousin is Peter's father.
She and first husband Glenn Billingsley, a successful restaurateur, had two sons, Drew and Glenn, Jr. Since 1974, Drew and Glenn have owned and operated Billingsley's Restaurant in West Los Angeles, in the tradition of their father, and their great uncle, Sherman Billingsley, founder of New York City's very fashionable 1940s-era nightclub, The Stork Club.
Had two failed TV series in the early-to-mid 1950s before becoming a household commodity as June Cleaver in 1957.
The Cleaver clan became the iconic 1950s American nuclear family. As the mother in the show, she was often seen performing her household duties wearing complementary pearls and earrings. The pearls actually were her idea--she had a noticeable surgical scar on her neck and wore a strand of pearls to conceal it from the cameras.
Best known by the public for her starring role as June Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver (1957), which has been in continuous re-run/syndication since it ended it's original network television run in 1963.
Graduated from George Washington High School in Los Angeles, CA, in 1934, but instead of seeking her first acting break in Hollywood, she moved to New York City to seek her break on Broadway.
She had a bronze statue, created by Leave It to Beaver (1957) co-star Tony Dow, on display in her backyard garden.
In 2007 she was singing at her former Leave It to Beaver (1957), co-star's, Jerry Mathers's, mother's 80th birthday party, when he returned from appearing on Broadway, in his debut role, as Wilbur Turnblad in "Hairspray".
The youngest of three children.
Her hobbies included gardening, dining, watching movies, listening to radio, tennis, drinking wine, spending time with her family, sewing and traveling.
Her mother, Lillian Combes, worked in a factory, while her father, Robert Collyer Combes, was the Chief of Police.
She changed her name from Combes to Billingsley when she married Glenn Billingsley in 1940.
Her son Glenn Jr. married Karen Zappas in 1976, and they are still together. They're parents of 3, Barbara's grandchildren, Logan Billingsley, Morgan Billingsley and Taylor Billingsley.
She followed Ronald Reagan's career after they co-starred in a stage play, long before he ran for governor or president.
When she was little, her mother would often take her to the movies. Her mother loved dramas rather than comedies.
Auditioned for the role of Danny Thomas's second wife on The Danny Thomas Show (1953).
Met Jim Henson at a party, before he hired her to voice Nanny on Muppet Babies (1984).
Her granddaughter, Taylor, wanted to follow in her grandmother's footsteps of becoming an actress but her parents wouldn't allow her to begin as a child actress.
Is a fan of the late Richard Mulligan's two comedy shows: Soap (1977) and Empty Nest (1988), and appeared in an episode of "Empty Nest" in 1991.
Before she became a successful actress, she once worked with a magician, balancing cards.
Regularly played poker with Rod Serling's family before his death.
Oprah Winfrey once said Billingsley was her childhood television heroine.
Remained good friends with Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers after Leave It to Beaver (1957).
Her show, Leave It to Beaver (1957) was canceled at the end of the sixth season due to her cast mates desire to move on to other projects. Also, Tony Dow was graduating from high school, and Jerry Mathers was entering high school that same year.
Survived by her two sons, Drew Billingsley of Granada Hills, CA, and Glenn Billingsley Jr. of Phillips Ranch, CA, as well as several grandchildren.
Was a member of the Unity Church.
Acting mentor and friends of Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers.
Her mother, Lillian Combes, worked in a sweater factory for years.
Grew up in a single-parent home, after her parents divorced when she was 4.
Was voted high school prom queen.
Was named after her mother.
Was a staunch Republican who gave much of her time and money to various conservative political causes. She attended several Republican National Conventions, galas and fund-raisers. She was active in the campaigns of Wendell Willkie, Thomas E. Dewey, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush.
Was reunited with her ex-Leave It to Beaver (1957) co-stars, Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers, along with ex-Airplane! (1980) co-star, Peter Graves, on the final episode of The Love Boat (1977).
Dropped out of Los Angeles Junior College at age 19.
Began her TV series Leave It to Beaver (1957) at age 41.
Her favorite television series to date was Leave It to Beaver (1957).
Former niece-in-law of Sherman Billingsley.
Began her Hollywood career as a contract player for MGM in 1945, after trying to make it on Broadway, where her only show closed after just four performances. On Broadway she was billed as Barbara Combes, her birth name, but she was married by the time she signed her first contract, so her first credited roles were as Barbara Billingsley.
Met Marjorie Lord in The Argyle Secrets (1948), where the two began a lifelong friendship that lasted from 1948 until Billingsley's passing in 2010.
Resided in Santa Monica, CA, from 1956 until her death in 2010.
Before she was a successful actress, she once worked as a foreman at a knitting mill.
After her final role on Secret Santa (2003), she retired from acting at age 87.
Her career was revived when she had a prominent, but small role in Airplane! (1980).
Has a restaurant named after her.
Started acting in films at age 33.
A popular student at George Washington High School, Billingsley was voted Homecoming Queen.
Her stepson, William Mortensen Jr., is involved in charity work.
By her first marriage, to Glenn Billingsley, she was related to the father of Peter Billingsley, Melissa Michaelsen and Neil Billingsley.
After her parents' divorce, she didn't see her father.
Her third husband, Dr. William Mortensen, died on 7/5/81.
Stepmother of William Mortensen Jr.
Her first son, Drew Billingsley, was born in Key West, Florida, her second son, Glenn Jr. was born in Los Angeles, California.
Played the same character (June Cleaver) on six different series: Leave It to Beaver (1957), The Love Boat (1977), Elvira's Movie Macabre (1981), The New Leave It to Beaver (1983), Baby Boom (1988) and Hi Honey, I'm Home (1991).
After a 20- year absence on television, Billingsley made a comeback with The New Leave It to Beaver (1983).

Personal Quotes (36)

Roy [her husband] died on a Saturday, while we were gardening. The Thursday before, I was up for the part of the mother in a series Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher were working on. Then Roy died, and nothing came of that series. But two months later, when they started on Leave It to Beaver (1957), they remembered me and asked me to read for the part of June. I've always thought that they felt sorry for me.
June Cleaver didn't keep her house in perfect order, the prop man did it.
[asked in 2000 if there was a difference between her and the June Cleaver character] My sons say, no. Gradually what happened is the writers started writing about you, as well as the character they created originally. So you all become mixed up.
[of Jerry Mathers who played "The Beaver"] Jerry told me it had been a dream of his always to be able to go to New York and be in a Broadway show. So all we have to do is decide what we want to do. You have to have a dream.
[about auditioning for June Cleaver] Well, I was doing the script, and I don't think I could have changed it. But I loved it.
[in 2010 about the legacy of her June Cleaver character] June Cleaver has always been a part of my life and always will be.
[on comparing real-life families to the TV families]: I just wish that we could have more families like those. Family is so important, and I just don't think we have enough people staying home with their babies and their children.
[on Leave It to Beaver (1957)] It was a very happy experience for me, and very timely. There was never a fight on the set in seven years.
[on June Cleaver] She's been too good to me to play anything like that.
[in 1997, about "June Cleaver"] She was the ideal mother. Some people think she was weakish, but I don't. She was the love in that family. She set a good example for what a wife could be. I had two boys at home when I did the show. I think the character became kind of like me and vice-versa. I've never known where one started and where one stopped.
Good grief, I think everybody would like a family like that. Wouldn't it be nice if you came home from school and there was Mom standing there with her little apron and cooking waiting?
[in 2007,l about her "sons" in Leave It to Beaver (1957)] They were always good kids, Tony Dow had an exhibit of his artwork and sold 18 pieces. Pretty darn good, isn't it?"
[When she was the only actress to do a revival of the Leave It to Beaver (1957) movie, in 1997]: Tony and Jerry didn't want to be in it. They were crazy. But it really didn't turn out very good.
[in 2008] Some of those clothes came from Penny's. They weren't expensive clothes.
[about her "June Cleaver" character] It doesn't bother me that I'm June Cleaver. It's been a good career. I don't know where June starts and Barbara ends. Our lives are so similar. I don't know why she's so popular, maybe it's because she had such a clean kitchen.
[in 2003, on why "June Cleaver " wore a string of pearls all the time] Beuse I have a big hollow in my neck and the necklace covered the spot perfectly. So no matter what I was doing--cleaning, cooking or answering the phone--I had those darn pearls on, and there was a practical reason she wore high heels on the show.
Joe Connelly had seven children, and Bob Mosher had two, and they had a lot of material right there. Every show was taken from some kernel of truth, something that had happened to their children or a relative.
[on the death of Hugh Beaumont] No father on television was ever better than Hugh.
[in 1993, on the death of her first husband, Roy Kellino ] It's a terrible blow, but you can't wallow in your grief. When Roy died, my agent made me work all the time. And six months later, they called me to start the series.
A long time ago, I played a lot of these roles that were seemingly nice, but underneath the character was really the murderer. So, I didn't have to do a lot of research for this character. I just had to understand what she was thinking and feeling.
[on her point of views about witches and the occult] I'm very interested in the supernatural. Of course, I don't really think there could be witches--but I could be wrong.
[on Roseanne Barr] You know, the first time I saw, Roseanne (1988) , I thought, "Ugh! I hate the messy house" And she herself is this big, sloppy woman. But she gives out some pretty good wisdom to her children. There's something there, a warmth and a love that we had in a different way.
[in 1989] Television moms have taken a turn for the real.
[in 1988] We're the ideal family. At least it's what everyone thinks is ideal. It's the way everybody would like their family to be.
[in 1987] I was widowed and spending all my time raising my kids.
[in 1986] I think it's great. I get invited to lecture about it, but I don't feel comfortable.
[on her comeback role as playing June Cleaver after a 20-year-plus absence] Life has changed a lot in that time. But I still think the basic things are the same. Look at what they're doing on The Cosby Show (1984). Cosby is doing a lot of the same things we did 25 years ago.
[on Hugh Beaumont] I miss him very much, because we were so close. But Hugh was incapacitated after his stroke. He could hardly walk and his speech was impaired. So, it's best his fans remember him from the early shows.
[in 1984] America is ready for us again. I like to remind you for 234 episodes Audiences saw the Cleavers as their second family. Beaver and Wally were their brothers, Eddie Haskell was their best friend and June was their mother. Oh, she may have been neat, neat, neat, but June was supposed to be a role model. I always liked her.
[about being a housewife] I know I'm typecasted. Have I ever been striding for a career, but I loved having a family and I loved having a husband, I liked that one.
[in 1992] They like to have that kind of family, the kids would, I think. Today [as you know] mothers work. I was working, but not June Cleaver and because they work, some things have to slip, and I think it's better to let the house go than the children.
[in 2000] She [June Cleaver] was a loving, happy, stay-at-home mom, which I think is great, I'm not for every woman having to be out in the workplace. My mother was. I had two children at home and I was working. But I think one who stays home, if she's doing a good job, it is the best job she'll ever have, and the most important. And I think our children need the mothers home.
It's unbelievable, it's really become quite a career being June Cleaver. That really didn't bother me. I was right where I wanted to be. I was happy being June Cleaver all these years.
[in 1991] It was the ideal family, anybody would like to have a family like the Cleavers.
[in 1994] I was going to do another series with Buddy Ebsen for the same producers, but somehow it didn't materialize. A couple of months later I got a call to go to the studio to do this pilot show. And it was for [Leave It to Beaver (1957)].
Don't think your dreams don't come true, because they do. You'd better be careful what you wish for. And I truly and honestly--one day I am doing [Leave It to Beaver (1957)] and I said, 'This is the show I have always wanted to do".

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