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 — on the series that ran on CBS in the 1957-58 season and on ABC from 1958-63.
“I will greatly miss my lifelong friend Ken Osmond who I have known for over 63 years,” Jerry Mathers, who starred as Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver, tweeted.
“I have always said that he was the best actor on our show because in real life his personality was so opposite of the character that he so brilliantly portrayed. RIP dear friend.”
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.”
Crowe added that he `always dreamed Jeff Spicoli was a distant relative of the Haskells,” referring to the stoner surfer character played by Sean Penn in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” based on Crowe’s book and screenplay.
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 reunion movie, “Still the Beaver,” with other members of the original cast which aired on CBS and a revival series, “Still the Beaver,” which aired on Disney Channel in the 1984-85 and on TBS from 1986-89 as “The New Leave It to Beaver.”
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 bet 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 officer, 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 granted 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.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: