Who is Rusty Stevens?

Rusty Stevens is an American former child actor most fondly remembered for his role as “Larry Mondello” in the original Leave It to Beaver TV series.

Rusty Stevens appeared in 68 of the show’s 234 episodes between 1957 and 1960 and amassed a great fan base for his hilarious role. However, many fans were disappointed as he left the show in the middle of its fourth season.

There are so much misinformation and speculations regarding Rusty Stevens whereabouts. Why did Rusty Stevens suddenly leave the show he was doing so good on?

Rusty Stevens Biography
Rusty Stevens Biography

As a Leave It To Beaver fan, we know you have so many questions. So today, we shall try to answer all these questions in this article. So, please make sure that you read the article till the end!

Quick Facts

Full nameRobert Rusty Stevens
NicknameRusty
BirthdateNovember 25, 1948
Age73 years old
Sun signSagittarius
TraitsPositive- Loving, Energetic, and Adventurous
Negative- Impulsive, Impatient, and Careless
BirthplaceBoston, Massachusetts, USA
Currently ResidingNew Jersey, USA
Marital StatusMarried
SpouseTheresa Marinelli
ProfessionActor, Salesman
Net Worth$ 2 million
Quick Facts

Interesting facts

Rusty Stevens hadn’t told his wife he had been a child actor. So, when a detective tracked him down in the ’80s when CBS wanted Stevens for its sequel Leave It to Beaver, his wife assured the detective that he had the wrong house.

Rusty served in the U.S. Army in 1969 with a military occupational specialty of armor. Though the Vietnam War was in full swing, he never got orders to serve there. So instead, he served in Daley Barracks, Border Guard Unit, Bad Kissingen, West Germany.

Early Life and Childhood

Rusty Stevens was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on November 25, 1948. He grew up in the loving care and protection of his parents.

Stevens was a normal kid who attended school and sold newspapers during his free time. He hadn’t acted in a school play or a church skit. However, as his mother admitted, he loved to watch movies and TV Westerns and act out the parts around the house.

Rusty Stevens childhood photo
Rusty Stevens childhood photo

So, Rusty had been selling newspapers for ten months without anyone paying attention when a children’s talent scout named Lola Moore noticed him. As Lola mentioned, she liked Rusty’s style. Undoubtedly, Stevens’ parents were shocked. Rusty’s mother even gave an interview to the newspaper The Valley Times in 1957, which was the very newspaper her son had been selling. She said,

“The studio people say he’s a real discovery.”

That was how Rusty made his TV debut on Leave It to Beaver. He became an instant celebrity as many audiences loved his role as Larry Mondello.

Romantic Affairs and Relationships

Theresa Marinelli (Rusty Stevens’ Wife)

Stevens is happily married to Theresa Marinelli. They also have one child together.

Career

Rusty began his career as a child actor in the hit TV series Leave It to Beaver. His role as a mischievous plump boy named Larry Mondello won the heart of many fans. Stevens appeared in 68 of the show’s 234 episodes as Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver’s young friend.

Additionally, the star child also acted in many TV series. According to IMBD, My Three Sons, Perry Mason, and National Velvet are some of the TV shows played by Rusty.

There was no doubt that Stevens would have made a name for himself in the movie industry had he continued working in his field. But instead, he suddenly left the show, which had given him celebrity status.

After he stopped appearing as Larry Mondello, the latest TV appearance he made was in The Rifleman in 1963. After a long time, Rusty reappeared in the 1983 made-for-television reunion movie Still the Beaver.

Jerry Mathers searched for decades to reunite with Rusty Stevens.

After Rusty Stevens’s parents ended his contract with the show Leave It to Beaver and left Los Angeles, it seemed like everybody forgot about Rusty. However, his old friend and co-star Jerry Mathers had not forgotten his dear friend.

Larry Mondello from Leave It to Beaver
Rusty Stevens and Jerry Mathers from Leave It to Beaver

He kept searching for his old friend and was deeply frustrated when he couldn’t find him. In an interview with The Pantagraph in 1982, Mathers said,

“Nobody could find him for the longest time. Everybody lost touch with him.”

However, Mathers did not lose hope and left no stone unturned to find his old buddy. Finally, he succeeded in finding Stevens, who was in New Jersey, working as a car insurance salesman.

So, Jerry persuaded Rusty to participate in 1983 Leave It To Beaver reunion movie, and Rusty did three guest spots on episodes of The New Leave It To Beaver, making his final TV role the same as the first. From then on, the pair of best buddies never lost touch again.

Rusty Stevens Movies List

MovieReleased YearRole
The New Leave It To Beaver1983-1989Larry Mondello
Still the Beaver1983Larry Mondello
The Rifleman1963Melvin
Wagon Train1962Johnny
Perry Mason1962Brucie Hillman
My Three Sons1962Cletus Bleeker
National Velvet1961Alvy’s Friend
The Jim Backus Show1961Alexander ‘Sandy’ Cleaver
Angel1957-1969 
Leave It to Beaver1957-1960Larry Mondello
Shirley Temple’s Storybook1960Stuffy Cole/ Gypsy Boy
77 Sunset Strip1960Max
Cimarron City1958Boy Reading Script
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof1958Sonny
Telephone Time1958Fat Boy
Racket Squad1951Detective Steve

Controversy

Rusty Stevens had gained massive popularity for his role as Larry Mondello. Undoubtedly, he would go on to achieve great heights in his acting career. However, things took an unexpected turn when Rusty’s parents moved suddenly from Burbank to Philadelphia.

It was in the middle of the 4th season when the show’s producers announced that Rusty would no more appear in the show. This left many of his fans surprised, and they couldn’t understand why he left in the middle of the show.

Rusty Stevens in Leave It to Beaver
Rusty as Larry Mondello from Leave It to Beaver

Later, Barbara Billingsley, who played June Cleaver in the series, said in a TV Archive interview that Stevens was fired because his overbearing mother caused grief for the producers. She 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 in the neck.”

However, the former child actor later revealed that it was he who had wanted to leave the show. According to Rusty himself, the truth is that as his character Larry Mondello became more popular on the show, he was signed to a contract by the show producers. At that time, aside from the cast members, he was the only other actor to be under contract.

At first, Stevens loved spending most of his time at the studio. However, he started missing his everyday life, where he would go to school and spend time with his family. Rusty kept the frustration inside for a while, but later, he told his parents that he couldn’t handle it anymore.

Rusty said he didn’t know to what length his mother might have gone to help him. But eventually, the show producers released him from his contract.

Rusty Stevens Net Worth

Rusty Stevens was one of the most famous child artists of the 1950s. He was one of the most loved and entertaining characters on popular TV shows.

So, based on all the available facts about the famous actor, his net worth as of 2022 is estimated at $2 million.

FAQs

Why did Larry Mondello leave the show?

Larry Mondello left the show in 1960 because his family moved from Burbank to Philadelphia. However, some sources state that Stevens was fired because his overambitious mother made irrelevant demands with the series’ producers.

Where is Larry Mondello now?

Rusty Stevens, aka Larry Mondello, now lives a retired life with his wife, Theresa, in New Jersey.

Was Rusty Stevens on The Rifleman?

Yes, Rusty Stevens was on The Rifleman in 1963. This was the last movie he played as a child actor.

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