Ken Osmond Dead: ‘Leave It to Beaver’ Star Dies at 76

Ken Osmond death

Getty Ken Osmond arrives at the 82nd Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on December 1, 2013.

Ken Osmond, who rose to fame playing the role of Eddie Haskell on the TV show Leave It to Beaver, died on Monday, according to Variety. He was 76.

Sources told the news outlet that he died at his home in Los Angeles while surrounded by family. While a cause of death was not immediately revealed, Osmond’s former partner at the Los Angeles Police Department said that the actor had suffered from respiratory issues. Osmond had joined the LAPD in 1970 while still working as an actor. During his 14 years as a police officer, he also guest-starred on TV shows such as Happy Days and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose and reprised his role as Eddie Haskell in The New Leave It to Beaver, which ran from 1983 to 1989, according to IMDb.

Osmond is survived by his wife of nearly 51 years, Sandra Lee Purdy, and their two children, Christian and Eric Osmond.

Born on June 3, 1943, in Glendale, California, Osmond started acting professionally as a young kid. With his brother, Dayton Osmond, he made his film debut in 1952’s Plymouth Adventure and booked his first speaking role at age 9 in the movie So Big, which starred Jane Wyman and Sterling Hayden.

While Osmond’s acting career began in 1952 and included guest-appearances on the TV show Annie Oakley and the film Good Morning, Morning Miss Dove, in 1957, Osmond got his big break after being cast in the hit series Leave It to Beaver. While he was originally cast as a guest star, Osmond was so impressive as Eddie Haskell that producers made his character a mainstay. Osmond continued to play the role until 1963, appearing in 97 episodes.

Osmond starred alongside Jerry Mathers, who played the titular role, Barbara Billingsly as June Cleaver, Hugh Beaumont as Ward Cleaver and Tony Dow as Wally Cleaver.

Here’s what you need to know about the legendary Ken Osmond:

1. Osmond Survived Being Shot 3 Times While Working for the LAPD

Ken Osmon

GettyKen Osmond arrives at the launch party for ‘Gilligan’s Island: The Complete First Season’ in 2004.

The actor testified in court about the day he was shot while working as an on-duty officer for the LAPD in 1980. “I saw a flash of light and the next thing I knew, I was flat on my back on the sidewalk, 10 to 15 feet away. I was not able to move. I thought I was dying,″ Osmond recalled eight years later.

In 1988 Osmond was called to testify against the man who shot him, Albert Cunningham, who was facing the death penalty after being charged with killing 36-year-old Enrique Treto on December 2, 1985. The actor said he and his partner were on motorcycle patrol during the incident in 1980 when they spotted a stolen taxi with Cunningham behind the wheel.

After chasing Cunningham on foot, Osmond was shot three times during the confrontation. However, Osmond was extremely lucky. During the gunfire exchange, his bulletproof vest blocked two of the bullets while his belt buckle stopped the third from penetrating his body.

During his testimony, Osmond said he suffered from clinical depression following the incident, which forced him into early retirement after serving 14 years on the force.

2. Both of Osmond’s Real Life Sons Starred On ‘The New Leave It To Beaver’

Mixing real-life with fiction, Osmond’s sons, Christian and Eric, starred in the reboot of their father’s hit show, The New Leave It to Beaver. Eric played the role of Frederick ‘Freddie’ Haskell throughout the entire show’s run, while Cristian appeared as Edward C. ‘Bomber’ Haskell Jr. in 10 episodes between 1986 and 1989.

3. Osmond Co-Authored the Memoir ‘Eddie: The Life and Times of America’s Preeminent Bad Boy’

Ken Osmond book

AmazonOsmond published a memoir about his life playing Eddie Haskell in 2014.

In 2014, Osmond helped pen the ultimate behind-the-scenes story of playing the iconic bad boy on Leave It to Beaver. In the book, Osmond said Haskell was such a famous character that when NBA star Kobe Bryant yelled at a referee, he was dubbed to be “acting like Eddie Haskell.” He also said Bart Simpson was the animated show creator Matt Groening’s version of Haskell.

Mathers, who played Beaver on the series, wrote the forward for the book. He said of Osmond, “[He] was the best actor on the program because he was so diametrically opposed to the character he played.”

4. An Urban Legend Circulated That Alice Cooper Was Secretly Osmond In Real Life

Ken Osmond Alice Cooper

GettyAlice Cooper performs onstage during The 58th GRAMMY Awards in 2016.

After Osmond largely retired from acting, he grew a mustache and disappeared into his work with the LAPD. In his absence, a rumor started circling that underneath rocker Alice Cooper’s wild stage makeup, it was the real-life Osmond hiding in plain sight. The urban legend grew so popular, that Cooper actually started to wear a t-shirt that had ‘No, I’m Not Eddie Haskell‘ emblazoned on the front.

According to Cooper, the rumor started when a college paper asked him what kind of kid he was growing up and the rocker responded, “‘I was obnoxious, disgusting… a real Eddie Haskell,’ but the story said I was the real Eddie Haskell. It was the biggest rumor that ever came out about me.” Even after wearing the t-shirt, Cooper said, people still believed the rumor.

However, when Osmond returned to star in the Leave It to Beaver reboot at the same time Cooper was on tour with KISS, the urban legend was finally put to rest.

5. Tributes to Osmond Filled Twitter Following His Death

Leave It to Beaver was an iconic and beloved series during its run. Following the news of Osmond’s death, fans shared how much the show and Osmond’s boisterous performance affected their lives growing up. Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach tweeted, “If you want to talk about my all-time influences, Ken Osmond AKA Eddie Haskell is right up there. My whole life I have laughed so hard watching Ken Osmond in Leave it to Beaver. During this time my kids have started watching too. Just last night [Disappointed face] THANK U.”

Another online user tweeted about how Eddie Haskell was one of the original characters audiences loved to hate. “Ken Osmond should be remembered for playing one of the first unrepentant dirtbags in sitcom history. If Mayfield USA was a Garden of Eden, Eddie Haskell was the serpent. Every subsequent TV sleazeball owes him a debt of gratitude. #RIPKenOsmond #RIPEddieHaskell.”

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