And another figure from the golden age is gone: Frank Bank, 71, died over the weekend. Wires did not provide immediate details of cause of death, but Bank had lived in California. In a statement released to the Hollywood Reporter, Jerry Mathers — the Beav — had this to say:
"Lumpy was the ultimate bully, but Frank was a very, very kind and gentle person and a very good actor to play it so well. "The show was about all the people you knew growing up and throughout your life, and Frank brought that perspective to the show."
Lump wasn't the best-known or best-loved character from "Leave it to Beaver" — and he wasn't supposed to be — but he was vital member of the constellation of characters that surrounded Wally and Beaver, and in the process made those two more human in a more sitcom kind of way.
Gerard Jones, who wrote a terrific book a few years ago on the history of classic sitcoms — with the equally terrific title "Honey, I'm Home" — offered this excellent appraisal of Bank's Lumpy, who at first was the neighborhood bully before he morphed into a more dimensional character (insecure, under his father's thumb, not his own manboy, and so forth ...)
The kids were convincing: Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow played Beaver and Wally with an engaging lack of self-consciousness and preciosity. Their friends, whose main function was to lead them into innocent trouble, were weirder — and yet more believable — menagerie than sitcom had attempted: Oily wise guy Eddie Haskell; thickheaded, think-skinned Lumpy Rutherford; fat selfish Larry Mondello; belligerent, jealous rat-finking Judy Hensler ... "Lumpy was the ultimate bully, but Frank was a very, very kind and gentle person and a very good actor to play it so well," Mathers said. "The show was about all the people you knew growing up and throughout your life, and Frank brought that perspective to the show."