The ever-LumpyFrank Bank

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A child actor, Bank played several minor roles before he leapt to fame in an iconic 1950s TV show that’s still in reruns: Leave It to Beaver (1957-1963). He played the comic fool (and foil to protagonists Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver and his brother Wally), Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford. “Lumpy was the ultimate bully, but Frank was a very, very kind and gentle person and a very good actor to play it so well,” said Jerry Mathers, who played The Beaver. “The show was about all the people you knew growing up and throughout your life, and Frank brought that perspective to the show.” But the show ruined Bank’s showbiz career: he was typecast as Lumpy, and lost subsequent roles because producers couldn’t see him as any other character. Long interested in business, he quit acting and ended up as a stockbroker, including for series co-star Barbara Billingsley (mom June Cleaver). “Frank is certainly brighter than Lumpy Rutherford,” she said in 1988, “and a very good stockbroker.” Still, he reprised Lumpy in the TV movie Still the Beaver (1983), and in The New Leave It to Beaver (1985-1989). Bank was the first of the kid actors from the show to die — on April 13, the day after he turned 71.

From This is True for 14 April 2013