In the late 1950s, few actors epitomized suburban fatherhood better than Hugh Beaumont, who played Ward Cleaver on the 1950s sitcom Leave It to Beaver. The character didn’t always have all the answers, but Ward showed kindness and wisdom in his frequent talks with his sons — something that grew out of Hugh’s own life as a father of three.

“He had a lot of input into the character,” Hugh’s daughter, Kristan Beaumont, tells Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “When we got into trouble, we usually had a talk with Dad, just like on the show. He’d never yell or get upset.”

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A native of Lawrence, Kansas, Hugh studied theology before heading out to make his name in Hollywood. Though he worked frequently in film and TV, he appreciated the security Leave It to Beaver offered. “He took his responsibilities very seriously,” says Kristan. “That was one of the reasons he did the series. It was a way to support his family.”

Hugh “loved poetry,” possessed “an infectious laugh,” and thrived in the outdoors. His family’s annual trip to Minnesota was a high point of the year. “When you got in the car with Dad, you drove until you got there — and it was 36 hours!” says Kristan, who recalls balmy days of hiking, swimming and fishing. “I don’t even think Dad cared if he caught anything or not,” she laughs. “He just loved it.”

After Beaver went off the air in 1963, Hugh continued to act, wrote screenplays and short stories and operated a Christmas tree farm. He also remained a friend and mentor to Leave It to Beaver’s young actors until his death in 1982. “My father believed that if you wanted to change anything, you had to start small. You couldn’t do everything at once,” says Kristan. “He always used to say: ‘You start by tying your shoes.’”

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