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1960s / Jerry Mathers False Death Report
Jerry Mathers, the iconic sitcom child from Leave It To Beaver, became the subject of an urban myth in 1969 when it was falsely reported that he had been killed in Vietnam. Mathers served in the Air National Guard but never left the United States. Apparently an American soldier with a similar name had been reported killed in action. Several news agencies wrongly reported that Beaver Cleaver had died in Vietnam. The inaccurate story got even more publicity when Shelley Winters appeared on The Tonight Show. During a chat with Johnny Carson she expressed sadness about Mathers' supposed demise. Tony Dow, who played Wally on Leave It To Beaver, sent flowers and a condolence note to the Mathers family. It took Mathers a few years to convince the public that he was alive and well.