Jerry Mathers returns to his hometown, Sioux City - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Jerry Mathers returns to his hometown, Sioux City, to help raise money for Catholic education

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

He grew up with the world watching.  In the 50's and 60's, Sioux City's own Jerry Mathers was the kid other kids wanted to be like, and the child many parents felt they had.

Jerry Mathers had already filmed movies and worked with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, but it was the popular 1957 sitcom about the everyday American Family, the Cleavers, where Mathers made a name for himself.

"It's a wonderful show, it's something that's stood the test of time.  Everyone can relate to it, and because it's real life, everyone has had some of those experiences, and some poor people had most of them," joked Mathers.

Mathers' parents moved from Sioux City when he was about a year old.  He came back twice to visit family.

"You know, I remember my grandmother's house.  She was a piano teacher.  My grandfather was a postal carrier.  So, he knew everybody," said Mathers.

Mathers was back in his hometown this weekend.  He attended Mass at Sacred Heart Church, and Sunday night, served as the keynote speaker for the Sioux City Catholic Diocese Bishop's dinner.  He spoke about his time on TV and his own Catholic education.

"Leave it to Beaver" has never been off the air, entertaining generation after generation for 55 years. Today, it is the longest running sitcom in American television history.  Mathers still gets recognized everywhere he goes, usually, as the Beav, but not always.

"In Japan, I'm called "The Happy Boy."  They'd say 'Happy Boy, oh you Happy Boy.  I'm thinking, 'ok, I'm a happy person, they must know me from the show,' but I didn't realize that they don't have beavers, so it's called "The Happy Boy and his family," recounted Mathers.

He can truly say he's done it all, radio, tv, movies and musicals.  He was on Broadway a couple of years ago in Hairspray.

He graduated from Notre Dame High School and says his Catholic education has helped guide him over the years.

"It gives a child a different perspective than a public education, and one that I believe in," said Mathers who also sent his three children to Catholic school

Mathers' family lived in Morningside and he was baptized at Immaculate Conception.  Today, he lends his name to many non-profit causes.

"When they are events that I feel  my presence would add and bring more people to, I'm more than happy to participate," said Mathers.

Being part of a show that's stood the test of time has brought its own rewards.

"It's very nice that you can be associated with something that has such a good moral value.  Every show is real life, each show has a moral message.  And it was written for a family to watch," pointed out Mathers.

Something, he says, you'll rarely find in today's sitcoms.  In fact, the only tv he says he watches are political and financial news programs, no sitcoms.

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