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1950s / Vanishing TV Character- Larry Mondello
Robert (Rusty) Stevens played Larry Mondello in 67 episodes of the first three seasons of Leave It To Beaver between 1957 and 1960. That meant he appeared in approximately 2/3 of those 102 shows. Larry was Beaver's best buddy. Good-natured, obese, but not the brightest kid on the planet, Larry often led Beaver into various messes. We never saw Larry's father, but his harried mother (played by Madge Blake) was constantly threatening Larry with the consequences of his iron-fisted pop laying down the law on him once he got home from another business trip. After the 1959-60 season, however, Larry just vanished from the sitcom. According to some reports, Rusty Stevens' father took a job in Pennsylvania. Thus the Stevens family was suddenly uprooted from California, which effectively ended Rusty's TV career. However, a few reports--including comments made by Barbara Billingsley (who played June Cleaver) late in her life--indicate that Stevens' mother was an insufferable stage mom whose presence and antics rankled the producers. Eventually the brains behind the show had had enough of her and decided abruptly to drop Larry Mondello from the show.