Whatever Happened to Robert 'Rusty' Stevens (Larry Mondello) from Leave it to Beaver?
Whatever happened to Robert 'Rusty' Stevens (Larry Mondello) from Leave it to Beaver? That's a very good question. I've wondered it myself many times in the past. Stevens appeared in 67 episodes of Leave it to Beaver (or 68 if you count the very last Beaver episode in which he only appeared in "flashbacks"). He later appeared in the made-for-TV movie Still the Beaver (1983), and also in 3 episodes of the TV series, The New Leave It To Beaver (1984-1989). Leave it to Beaver originally aired 1957-1963, but Rusty's last appearance was in late 1960.
Earlier research led me to believe that the reason for Rusty's demise from the Leave It To Beaver cast was because his father took a job out of state, and so the family moved away from Burbank, California to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, therefore ending his career on the show. But, as one commenter on this blog pointed out, Barbara Billingsley provides a different reason. In an interview conducted in July 2000 with the Archive of American Television, Barbara said, "We all loved Rusty so much. He was so good in that role. And, unfortunately they had to let him go... Because his mother was such a pain." She went on to mention that Rusty's mother would go to the producer's office and "make demands." So, "Finally, they let him go."
From what info I can gather, since leaving the show Rusty has apparently worked in some or all of the following fields: advertising, insurance salesman and/or real estate. According to his very short bio on imdb.com, it shows "(2001) Insurance Salesman in New Jersey." A more current version of his Wikipedia page said, "He and his wife now live in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey." (A few years ago it read: "He and his wife now live in Sharpsburg, Georgia.")
Many years after Leave It To Beaver had ended, when they were trying to locate Rusty to reprise his role as Larry in Still the Beaver, a detective had to be employed to try to find him. The detective found the right house and knocked on the door. Rusty's wife answered and the detective asked her if it was the residence of the former child star. She replied that he had the wrong house. When she later told this to Rusty, he told her the man did have the right house. He did indeed play Larry Mondello, he just never told his wife about it before!
Apparently, in recent years, Rusty has been purposely staying out of the limelight and has declined offers for TV appearances.
Robert 'Rusty' Stevens was born 11/25/1948 and is currently 66 years old (as of Nov. 2014).
The photo seen here is from a clip of The New Leave It to Beaver (aka Still The Beaver) that used to be on YouTube (long since deleted). Rusty had reprised his role as Larry Mondello for a few episodes of the series that ran from 1983-1989. As far as I know, the series isn't available on DVD. It'd be great if it was.
The New Leave It to Beaver/Still The Beaver also starred original Leave It To Beaver cast members; Jerry Mathers (Beaver), Tony Dow (Wally), Barbara Billingsley (June Cleaver), Frank Bank (Lumpy), and Ken Osmond (Eddie).