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Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford forever will be an overgrown unsuccessful bully of 17.
Somehow, though, his secret identity, former actor Frank Bank, who played the friend of big brother Wally Cleaver on the late ’50s-early ’60s TV series, “Leave It To Beaver,” got away from us and turned 71 Friday. He died the next day in Southern California.
Bank was a pretty good actor who played the part of Lumpy, Wally’s sad sack friend, so well that he became typecast to a large degree. But he didn’t tarry in show business long. He studied business and became a stocks and bonds broker.
His only attempts at acting in his later years were in a TV-movie revival of the show, “Still the Beaver,” and later, a re-worked version of the series, “The New Leave It To Beaver,” which had the same actors playing their original characters as adults.
In 1997, Bank wrote an autobiography, “Call Me Lumpy: My Leave It to Beaver Days and Other Wild Hollywood Life.”
His character tried to be a bully when his overbearing father, Fred Rutherford, played by Richard Deacon, wasn’t around. Mostly, all Lumpy was successful at was pushing around the title character, Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver, played by Jerry Mathers. Then, when Beaver complained about the mistreatment, big brother Wally, played by Tony Dow (now a sculptor), would chastise him with a scolding, “Aw, knock it off, Lumpy.”
Frank Bank, a solid part of the acting ensemble that made “Leave It To Beaver” an all-time classic, will be missed by the surviving fans of the show.
— Mike Dougherty, Editor