Hugh Beaumont

Eugene Hugh Beaumont (Feb. 16, 1909 — May 14, 1982) was an American actor, television director, and ordained Methodist minister. He is best known for his portrayal of the character Ward Cleaver on the popular TV series Leave It to Beaver from 1957 to 1963.


Beaumont was born in Lawrence, Kansas, to Ethel Adaline Whitney and Edward H. Beaumont, a little over three months after the couple married. After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he played football. He later studied at the University of Southern California, and graduated with a Master of Theology degree in 1946. He married Kathryn Adams in 1942 and they had three children during their forty-year marriage. Adams can be seen in Alfred Hitchcock's 1942 film Saboteur, playing the part of Mrs. Brown, the young mother.

In 1931, Beaumont began his career in show business by performing in theaters, nightclubs and on the radio. He began acting in motion pictures in 1940, appearing in over three dozen films (many roles not credited) before taking his best-known role as philosophy-dispensing suburban dad Ward Cleaver on the popular sitcom television series Leave It to Beaver.

A precursor to his role as the kindly father figure came in Adventures of Superman. In a 1953 episode called The Big Squeeze, he played an ex-convict with a wife and son whose trust he must win back after an apparent return to his criminal past.

Not only did Beaumont act in Leave It to Beaver, but he also wrote and directed several episodes, including the final episode, the retrospective "Family Scrapbook". His portrayal as head of the Cleaver household ranked #28 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" in the June 20, 2004, issue.

After Leave It to Beaver concluded original production and went into syndication in the fall of 1963, Beaumont appeared in many community theater productions and did a few guest roles on TV shows, such as Mannix, The Virginian, Wagon Train and Petticoat Junction.

Beaumont retired from show business in the late 1960s, launching a second career as a Christmas-tree farmer in Minnesota. He was forced to slow down after suffering a stroke in 1972. A decade later, on May 14, 1982, Beaumont died of a heart attack while visiting his son, a psychology professor, in Munich, Germany. He was 73.

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