October 17, 2010, - 12:37 am
She raised a generation of America’s kids, then taught them as adults how to speak Ebonics.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned actress Barbara Billingsley on this site (as the perfect new bi-lingual translator for the DEA) and wondered to myself how old she was and whether she was still alive. I was happy to see that America’s most beloved TV mom from ’50s series, “Leave It to Beaver,” was still with us, in her nineties. Sadly, she died, today, at age 94.
When I think of Barbara Billingsley, the first thing that comes to mind is not her role as June Cleaver–America’s mom whom I used to watch in after school re-runs in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Instead, it’s the line that began one of her funniest scenes ever,
Oh, Stewardess, I speak Jive.
And, I also think of my favorite line–also uttered by her–in the movie in which that scene appeared, 1980’s “Airplane“:
Chump don’ wan’ da help, chump don’ get da help.
When she served as the Ebonics translator, Billingsley said it revived her career all over again. Here, she talks about learning Jive and how it “changed her life”:
“Barbara was a patient advisor and teacher. She helped me along this challenging journey through life by showing me the importance of manners and respect for others,” Jerry Mathers, 62, who played the Beaver from 1957-63, said in a statement. “She will be missed by all of her family, friends, fans and, most especially, by me.”
“She was as happy as a lark being recognized as America’s mom,” Tony Dow, 65, who played Wally, told CNN. “She had a terrific life and had a wonderful impact on everybody she knew, and even people she didn’t know.”
Later on, whenever I’d lament the death of American values, I’d be lectured back by this or that liberal relative or adult,
You just want to go back to the ’50s and the days of “Leave It to Beaver.” Well, it’s not like that anymore.
And, of course, it was always said as if the traditional family portrayed on that show was some sort of crime or villainy perpetrated on America, something to be reviled. Well, I was not alive then, so it’s hard to “go back,” but those days and that nuclear family dynamic were much better for America than the Sarah/Bristol/Levi/Tripp/Todd/inner-city Shaniqua baby mama and Mr. Mom anti-dynamics of today. The traditions of ’50s TV were highly underrated, even if the real life Billingsley divorced her first husband (her other two husbands pre-deceased her).
I don’t think most people realize what a powerful–and positive–influence she had on America’s moms/wives (and husbands/fathers and kids) at the time, through her TV persona. Her style, grace, and elegance touched even those of us who watched her in re-runs decades later. A beautiful and classy lady who loved America, and it loved her back (until leftists reviled her stay-at-home, married mom status and faux-conservatives like Sarah Palin, Michelle Fraudkin, and Kelly Ayotte reviled it, too).
Barbara Billingsley, Rest In Peace.
Tags: airplane, Barbara Billingsley, Chump Don't Get Da Help, Chump Don't Want Da Help, Chump Don't Want Da Help Chump Don't Get Da Help, ebonics, I Speak Jive, Jerry Mathers, jive, June Cleaver, Leave It to Beaver, Oh Stewardess I Speak Jive, Rest In Peace, Sarah Palin, Stewardess I Speak Jive, Tony Dow, video, videos, Wally