Ken Osmond, 'Leave It to Beaver' actor and former LAPD cop, dies
"Osmond destroyed every scene, and when the show was over, he dropped the mic to become a cop. Classic”
LOS ANGELES — Ken Osmond, who as a teen landed the role of wily troublemaker Eddie Haskell in the 1950s-era television comedy “Leave It to Beaver” and went on to serve as a Los Angeles police officer, during which he survived two close-call shooting incidents, died Monday, his family announced.
Osmond died at his Los Angeles home. He was 76 and had suffered from respiratory issues, Henry Lane, his former partner at the LAPD, told Variety.
The family did not release the cause of death in a statement one of his two sons issued through his father’s manager.
“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,” Eric Osmond said.
Osmond played the iconic character of Eddie Haskell — a scheming friend of Beaver’s older brother Wally who always sweet-talked Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver — from 1957 to 1963.
“He was a terrific guy, he was a terrific actor and his character is probably one that will last forever,” Tony Dow, who played Wally, told The Associated Press on Monday.
“He was one of the few guys on the show who really played a character and created it,” Dow added, chuckling as he mimicked the evil laugh Osmond would unleash when his character was launching one nefarious scheme or another and trying to pull Wally and his younger brother Beaver into it.
Writer-director Cameron Crowe (“Almost Famous,” “Jerry McGuire”) posted an autographed photo that Osmond personalized for him and tweeted: “Eddie Haskell is one of the greatest characters ever. Ken Osmond destroyed every scene, and when the show was over, he dropped the mic to become a cop. Classic.”
Born in Glendale, Osmond made his film debut with his brother Dayton as a child extra in “Plymouth Adventure,” starring Spencer Tracy, according to his biography on the Internet Movie Database at imdb.com. Osmond landed his first speaking role at age 9 in the film “So Big,” starring Jane Wyman and Sterling Hayden.
He won the role of Haskell at 14. When the run of “Leave It to Beaver” ended, Osmond joined the Army and later picked up some roles on popular shows like “Petticoat Junction” and “The Munsters.”
Osmond also reprised his best-known role in a 1983 reboot called “The New Leave It to Beaver” with other members of the original cast, as well as for the feature “Leave It to Beaver” in 1997.
“I was very much typecast. It’s a death sentence,” Osmond told radio host Stu Stoshak in a 2008 interview on “Stu’s Show.” “I’m not complaining because Eddie’s been too good to me, but I found work hard to come by. In 1968, I bought my first house, in ’69 I got married, and we were going to start a family and I needed a job, so I went out and signed up for the LAPD.”
Dow, who was a lifelong friend of Osmond’s said “His motorcycle cop stories are terrific.”
Our thoughts are with the family of former #LAPD officer, and TV star, Ken Osmond. He was best known for his role as Eddie Haskell on Leave It to Beaver, but Osmond was also a #LAPD Officer for 18 years. Thanks for both serving and entertaining us. #KenOsmond #EddiHaskell #hero pic.twitter.com/WzukY8W97R— LAPD Rampart (@LAPDRampart) May 19, 2020
Osmond was a member of the LAPD from 1970-1988 and survived two shooting incidents during his career. In 1980, he was shot in the chest while chasing a suspected car thief and wearing a bulletproof vest. Two slugs were stopped by the vest and a third ricocheted off his belt buckle, according to a 1988 Los Angeles Times report. A month later, a bullet fired by a security guard came close enough to part Osmond’s hair.
Osmond, who worked as a motorcycle cop, fought the department for a disability pension based on concerns that going back on the job would exacerbate depression triggered by the attacks. The pension was at first denied by the Board of Pension Commissioners, which was forced to grant it retroactively by a court ruling on appeal.
The car theft suspect was later sentenced to death in another man’s murder.
In addition to Eric, Osmond is survived by another son, Christian, and his wife Sandy.