Barbara Billingsley Biography
Barbara Billingsley was born Barbara Lillian Combes on Dec. 22, 1915, in Los Angeles, where she attended George Washington High School. A fashion-model-turned-actress, she left Los Angeles Junior College to appear in a short-lived Broadway play, Straw Hat. Through the succeeding years, Billingsley had numerous film appearances, but it was her role as the quintessential stay-at-home mom, June Cleaver (1957–1963), that made her famous. After Leave It to Beaver, Billingsley herself typecast and without jobs, but a role in Airplane! (1980) helped widen the net, and she had various small screen appearances after that, including Mork & Mindy, The Love Boat, and Murphy Brown. To the end, Billingsley relished her relationship with June, and had nothing but respect for her and what she represented. Barbara Billingsley, 94, died at home of polymyalgia, a rheumatoid disease. Bonus: June Cleaver was often the object of humor, with her perfectly coiffed hair, pearls, and high heels, presiding over her suburban household. Billingsley explained that the pearls were a convenient cover-up for a hollow in her neck, and the heels were a later addition—an effort to remain taller than the growing boys.