Billingsley had been a minor, if somewhat popular, movie actress until landing her most famous role in 1957. From there her fame skyrocketed, if only for a little while. After Leave it to Beaver went off the air in 1963, she went on to a series of smaller roles, including a memorable appearance in Airplane! and most recently in an episode of My Name Is Earl.
I remember watching and enjoying Leave it to Beaver back in the day. It was an ok show, but does not hold up well, as it presents a very unrealistic vision of life in the 1950’s/1960’s; one that’s undermined quite well by shows like Mad Men and books like The Way We Never Were. But it had its moments, and seeing her on Earl was wonderfully fun.
From all accounts Billingsley was a nice woman and certainly talented. She will be missed.