Barbara Billingsley, who gained the title supermom for her gentle portrayal of June Cleaver, the warm, supportive mother of a pair of precocious boys in Leave it to Beaver, has died at age 94. She had suffered from a rheumatoid disease. Billingsley acted in a number of roles in movies from the mid-1940s to the mid-1950s, but it wasn't until Leave it to Beaver that she became a star.
When the show debuted in 1957, Jerry Mathers, who played Beaver, was 9, and Tony Dow, who portrayed Wally, was 12. Billingsley's character, the perfect stay-at-home 1950s mom, was always there to gently but firmly nurture both through the ups and downs of childhood. "We knew we were making a good show, because it was so well written," she once said. "But we had no idea what was ahead. People still talk about it and write letters, telling how much they watch it today with their children and grandchildren."