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Barbara Billingsley, Beaver's mom, dies

Santa Monica, Calif. -- Barbara Billingsley, who went from playing bad girls in the movies to starring as an ideal mother, June Cleaver, on television died Saturday in California.

Judy Twersky, a spokeswoman for her family, told The New York Times Billingsley, 94, died at her home in Santa Monica from a rheumatoid disease, polymyalgia.

While she became famous for playing a stay-at-home mom, Billingsley, a Los Angeles native, had a 60-year acting career. In the 1940s and 1950s, she appeared in movie roles she summed up as "the woman who was really the heavy but nobody knew it."

"Leave It To Beaver" ran from 1957 to 1963. Billingsley had difficulty finding work for some years afterwards, but parts began coming her way after she played an elderly white woman using street talk with two black men in the 1980 comedy "Airplane." She also appeared in "Beaver" spinoffs and had a small part in a 1997 movie version of the show.

Her first marriage to Glenn Billingsley ended in divorce and her second to director Roy Kellino with his early death in 1956. She said she finally achieved a Cleaver-like family when she married Dr. Bill Mortenson, who died in 1981.
She is survived by two sons from her first marriage.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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