Before They Were Stars: 13-Year Old Harry Shearer on the Pilot for “Leave It to Beaver”

You’ve probably heard that after 25 years on the show, Harry Shearer is finally planning to leave The Simpsons. Looking at Mr. Shearer’s biography, I was quite surprised to find out that he was a child actor during the 1950s. Believe it or not, at age 13, Shearer was cast on the pilot episode of Leave It to Beaver as Frankie Bennett, a mischievous friend of Wally and Beaver. Shearer could have become a full-time cast member on the show, but his parents wanted him to have a normal childhood instead, so he took a hiatus from acting until he could finish school. Incidentally, the character of Frankie Bennett is pretty much considered a prototype for the eventual full-time Leave it to Beaver character, Eddie Haskell, which is only appropriate since Matt Groening has always said that Eddie Haskell was one of his primary inspirations for Bart Simpson. Anyway, look for young Shearer’s first appearance four minutes into this episode.

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