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[Deathwatch] Stanley Fafara, former child actor, 53

Thanks to a loyal reader for this submission - Ed.

'Whitey' from 'Leave It to Beaver' Dies
Fri Sep 26, 3:47 PM ET

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES - Former child actor Stanley Fafara, who played Beaver's
pal Whitey on the idyllic family sitcom "Leave It to Beaver" but
descended into a real-life adulthood of drugs, alcohol and petty crime,
has died at age 53, friends said on Friday.

Fafara died in a Portland, Oregon, hospital on Saturday, Sept. 20, of
complications from surgery he underwent last month to repair a
constricted intestine caused by a hernia, according to Tom Hallman Jr.,
a reporter for the Portland Oregonian who knew him.

Hallman, who had kept in touch with Fafara since writing a profile of
him in December 2002, said the former actor already was weakened by a
hepatitis C infection contracted years ago from intravenous drug use.
Hallman said friends of Fafara told him the former actor ultimately was
removed from life support after slipping into a coma.

His death capped a tragic adult epilogue to the boyhood celebrity
Fafara enjoyed as a young actor portraying "Whitey" Whitney, the
tow-headed pal of the title character played by Jerry Mathers on "Leave
It to Beaver."

The show, set in the fictional suburban town of Mayfield, aired on CBS
and ABC from 1957 to 1963.

Fafara, who grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs of Studio City and was
pushed into acting by his mother, landed the part as Whitey after doing
a number of commercials. He also had appeared in an episode of "The
Adventures of Rin Tin Tin."

In a recent online interview, Fafara said it was Whitey who uttered the
first line spoken on the show, asking Mathers' character, "What did she
do to you, Beaver?" as the Beav emerged from his teacher's classroom
with a note to bring home to his parents.

But the innocent, sheltered suburbia depicted on "Leave It to Beaver"
was a far cry from the lifestyle Fafara assumed after the series ended
its run.

By his own account, he began drinking and doing drugs as a teenager and
briefly lived in a house with members of the rock band Paul Revere and
the Raiders. Sent off to live with his sister in Jamaica, he returned
to Los Angeles at age 22 and started dealing drugs.

By the early 1980s, he was breaking into pharmacies and was eventually
sentenced to a year in jail for burglary. After his release, he worked
a number of odd jobs and resumed drug dealing to support his habit.

In and out of jail and rehab, he moved to Portland in the early 1990s
hoping to get off drugs. But he ended up as a junkie living in a rented
motel room, then the streets, before finally checking himself into a
detox center in August 1995.

Clean and sober since then, he moved into a halfway house for
recovering addicts and alcoholics, then into a subsidized apartment on
the edge of Skid Row, where he scraped by on Social Security checks
until being hospitalized, Hallman said.

Near the end of his life Fafara took some acting classes, but his
aspirations to return to show business never gelled.