Ken Osmond, best known for his role as troublemaker Eddie Haskell in TV’s “Leave it to Beaver,” has passed away at the age of 76. Besides acting, Osmond also spent 18 years with the Los Angeles Police Department.
His passing is a sad loss of another icon of early American television.
Osmond’s role as Eddie Haskell enshrined him in the eyes of the American public but eventually killed his acting career.
Osmond said he was typecast because of how well he played Haskell. “In the industry, that’s an absolute death sentence. I would walk into a casting office and all they could see was Eddie,” he said. “I couldn’t get work to save my soul. I had a few minor parts here and there, but nothing that’s going to sustain a life and a salary.”
In a very real sense, Osmond was suffering from the success of his iconic role. While Osmond would return to the beloved character in a reboot of the series in the ’80s, his acting career didn’t take off.
Seeing little potential in acting, Osmond decided to join the Los Angeles Police Department, where he grew out a mustache to ensure he wouldn’t be recognized.
His law enforcement career was a wild ride. Osmond made it into the LAPD and became a motorcycle cop. Tony Dow, who played Wally Cleaver on “Leave It To Beaver” and was a lifelong friend, said, “His motorcycle cop stories are terrific.”
One of Osmond’s more terrific stories, according to Dow, involved Osmond chasing down a robbery suspect and getting shot in the chest. Osmond was saved by his bulletproof vest but still had to go to the hospital.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore paid tribute to Osmond, saying, “Ken may have been a famous TV star but his real life role as Los Angeles Police Officer was where he made his biggest impact. After his successful run on one of the most popular shows of all time, he chose to protect and to serve the residents of Los Angeles, and I’m proud to have been able to call him a law enforcement partner.”
Osmond was beloved by both his co-stars and his family. Son Eric said, “He was an incredibly kind and wonderful father. He had his family gathered around him when he passed. He was loved and will be very missed.”
Many Americans will surely miss Osmond as well. “Leave it to Beaver” has transcended the cult classic status and is largely recognized as an American treasure.
Osmond is survived by his wife and two sons, Eric and Christian.