Frank Bank, the actor who played the goofy bully Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford on the classic sitcom “Leave It to Beaver,” has died at the age of 71.
Bank played the chubby, slow-witted friend of Beaver Cleaver’s older brother, Wally. Lumpy had an annoying habit of ineptly trying to boss around the younger kids on the show . As The New York Times wrote of Bank’s character: “Hapless and harmless, he appeared in 50 episodes during the show’s seven seasons, occasionally as the center of attention. (Certainly that was the case in the episodes called “Lumpy’s Scholarship,” “Lumpy’s Car Trouble” and “Wally Stays at Lumpy’s.”
The show ran from 1957 to 1963. After the series was canceled, Bank found that he was typecast, and moved on to other work, becoming a securities trader, the Times reported. Bank’s on-camera career got a boost from the 1980s obsession with the 1950s. He reprised his role as Lumpy on “The New Leave It to Beaver,” which aired for most of the decade, a time when his old show was in heavy syndication on local TV stations, as well as stations with national reach, including TBS and WGN.
To whatever extent Lumpy was an oaf, the actor who played him was anything but, said Jerry Mathers, who played “The Beaver” and was often the target of Lumpy’s blundering bullying.
“Lumpy was the ultimate bully, but Frank was a very, very kind and gentle person and a very good actor to play it so well,” Mathers told the Los Angeles Times. “The show was about all the people you knew growing up and throughout your life, and Frank brought that perspective to the show.”
The LA Times reported that Rutherford, who died on Saturday, had endured a series of illnesses. A cause of death was not released. Rutherford is survived by his wife, Rebecca; four daughters and five grandchildren.