Hugh Beaumont (February 16, 1909 - May 14, 1982) was an American actor, television director, and Methodist minister. He is best known for his portrayal of the character Ward Cleaver on the popular TV series Leave It to Beaver from 1957 to 1963.
Eugene Hugh Beaumont was born in Lawrence, Kansas and after graduating from high school he attended the University of Chattanooga where he played football. He later studied at the University of Southern California, and graduated with a Master of Theology degree in 1946. He married Kathryn Adams in 1942 and they had 3 children. He was an ordained Methodist Church minister.
Beaumont began his career in show business by performing in theaters, nightclubs, and on the radio in 1931. He began acting in motion pictures in 1940, and had appeared in over 3 dozen films before taking his best-known role as philosophy-dispensing suburban dad Ward Cleaver on the popular sitcom television series Leave It to Beaver.
An interesting precursor to his role as the kindly father figure came in The Adventures of Superman. In a 1953 episode called The Big Squeeze, he plays an ex-convict with a wife and son whose trust he must win back after an apparent return to his criminal past.
Leave it to Beaver premiered on October 4, 1957, and ran until September, 1963 for a total of 234 half hour performances on network television. The first season the show was on CBS, and the next five on ABC.
Not only did Beaumont act in Leave It to Beaver, but he also wrote and directed several episodes. His portrayal as Ward Cleaver ranked #28 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" in the June 20, 2004 issue.
After Leave It to Beaver went off the air in the fall of 1963, Beaumont appeared in many community theater productions and did a few guest roles on TV shows like Mannix, The Virginian, Wagon Train and Petticoat Junction.
Hugh Beaumont retired from show business in the late 1960s, launching a second career as a successful Christmas tree farmer. He was forced to slow down after suffering a stroke in 1972. Ten years later, Beaumont died suddenly of a heart attack on May 14, 1982, while visiting his son, a psychology professor, in Munich, Germany. He was 73 years old.