Ken Osmond, otherwise known as Eddie Haskell, the Leave It To Beaver king of flagrantly insincere teenage suckuptitude, has bitten the dust. He was only 76 but we’re all specks of dust in the cosmic sprawl of backyard leaves, and when God comes along with a rake…scratch that. When your number’s up, it’s up.
No history of 1950s and early ’60s sitcoms would be complete without raising a glass to Haskell, a one-note but essential superstar character who was easily on par with Bob Denver‘s Maynard G. Krebs, Fess Parker‘s Davy Crockett and George Reeves‘ Superman.
Haskell became an iconic figure because every high-school sufferer knew and recognized him. Because high schools of the Eisenhower and JFK eras were unfortunately punctuated with Eddie Haskells…completely devious weasels, totally consumed with showing deference to authority figures with the most revolting kiss-ass phrases and kowtowings.**
What happened to Eddie Haskell when psychedelic substances took hold in the mid ’60s and everyone had to reckon with them one way or the other? What happened to him when he smoked DMT in his mid 20s? I’ll tell you what happened to him. He started rubbing his cordouroy-covered thighs and then stared at the ground beneath his feet, going “uh-oh…uh-ooohhhh”. And then he looked up at the night sky like Anthony Quinn‘s Zampano at the end of La Strada and said something like “aacckk-aacckk-aacckk!”
Osmond had a tough time finding new work because of the Haskell typecasting. He called it “a death sentence,” and he presumably knew whereof he spoke. He joined the LAPD in ’69, growing a moustache in order to hide the Haskell. On 9.20.80 Osmond was shot five times by a suspected car thief, but four bullets were absorbed by a bullet-proof vest and the fifth hit his belt buckle. He was placed on disability and eventually retired from the force in ’88 at the age of 45.
Two Osmond rumors went around in the 70s. One was that he was actually Alice Cooper, the other that he’d become porn star John Holmes, aka “Johnny Wadd.”
Wiki excerpt: “Osmond returned to acting in 1983, reprising his role as Eddie Haskell in the CBS made-for-television movie Still the Beaver, which followed the adult Cleaver boys, their friends, and their families. This led to the revival comedy series The New Leave It to Beaver, which premiered the following year and ran for four seasons — ’84 to ’89.
He continued to make television appearances throughout the ’80s and ’90s on Happy Days, Rags to Riches, and in the TV movie High School U.S.A. He also had a bit part in the 2016 indie movie Characterz. In 2011 Osmond began appearing as a celebrity spokesman for St. Joseph aspirin.
Osmond died earlier today. No cause of death revealed. Hugs and condolences to all concerned.
** Seriously, Haskell had undoubtedly been severely traumatized as a young child by a dictatorial, possibly sadistic father, and had adopted the unctuous thing as a shield to use with probing authority figures.