Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rant #943: He Took It To the Bank

It sure has been a tough couple of days for obituaries.

I said that yesterday, and I am saying it today.

Here is another person from our youth who has gone onto the great beyond.

Frank Bank, who played the slow-witted bully Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford on "Leave It To Beaver" but who, in real life, was a sharp stock trader who handled the business portfolio of Jerry Mathers and Barbara Billingsley, his former co-stars, died on Saturday at age 71.

Bank had just celebrated his 71st birthday, and at this writing, no cause of death was given.

Bank's character was sort of the direct opposite of the character played by Tony Dow on the show. While Wally was shy, good looking and somewhat confident, Lumpy was a bully, not too bright--he was supposed to be older than the other boys, and although never said, it was implied that he was left back in school a few years--and a boaster.

Of course, he learned the boasting trait from his dad, perfectly played by Richard Deacon as the friend, and inter-company rival, of Ward Cleaver, played by Hugh Beaumont.

Lumpy was supposedly a good athlete, and if you listened to Mr. Rutherford, he was pursued by all the top schools.

Yup, and I bet if he had a bridge to sell you, he would have tried to run that by you too.

As the show developed, the writers played down Lumpy's bullying character, and simply made him the slower-witted partner of Eddie Haskell, played by Ken Osmond.

During his acting career, which pretty much concluded after "Beaver" ended its run in 1963, Bank was in a couple of movies, and at the tail end of the "Beaver" run, he starred in the unsold pilot for "Archie," and yes, he played Archie Andrews in that pilot.

The pilot episode was populated by former "Beaver" alumni, including Cheryl Holdridge, who played the recurring role of Mary Ellen Rogers on the show, and Bank claimed that the reason it didn't sell was that people could not separate his "Lumpy" character from the actor.

Yes, he was that good in the role.

Later, he admitted to "living the life" in Hollywood, and wrote about it in his autobiography that came out a few years ago.

But as an adult, he made his name in stocks and bonds, and was quite well known in that field.

I wonder how many people actually put Bank and his Lumpy character together as one and the same person.

And I wonder if Mr. Rutherford was around, how proud he would have been of the old Lump, err, Clarence, if he went into that field rather than become an All-Pro football player, as his father envisioned.

Anyway, here's to Frank Bank, who as Lumpy, will live on forever in "Leave It To Beaver" reruns.

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