PopCult Rudy Panucci on Pop Culture

Mitch O’Connell Leave It To Beaver Monster Shirts

Mitch O’Connell Leave It To Beaver Monster Shirts

Today’s final suggestion in The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide is the perfect gift for the die-hard fan of Leave it to Beaver, or also a great gift for fans of early 1960s gross-out monsters like Rat Fink.  It’s shirts (T Shirts or Sweatshirts–you pick) based on “Sweatshirt Monsters,” a 1962 episode of Leave it To Beaver.

In case you don’t remember this particular episode, here’s a synopsis from “Huggo” at IMDB

Beaver, Richard, Whitey and Alan are all excited about the new sweatshirts they have each purchased, each one which has a different monster face on it. Although he is not the one who comes up with the idea and is the one least amenable to it, Beaver ultimately agrees with a group pact that they will each wear their sweatshirt to school the next day. They figure that if they all do, they won’t, in their terminology, get “clobbered” by the teachers.

Although they can’t force Beaver to return the sweatshirt which they detest, Ward and June can demand that Beaver not wear the sweatshirt to school, or so they believe. When Beaver leaves the house, he is wearing a regular shirt. But once outside, he takes off that shirt and has his monster sweatshirt underneath. When he arrives in class, he finds that the sweatshirt causes much commotion, especially as he is the only one of the four wearing it.

Not only does Beaver feel like he will get into much trouble, but he also feels betrayed by his friends for them not sticking to the pact. He ultimately learns that good judgment trumps promises made.

Now, even though I was not a huge fan of Leave It To Beaver, that episode stuck with me. I always wondered if there were ever any attempt to market these designs on real shirts (seriously, I was just talking about this with a friend a few months ago).

It always seemed like a golden marketing opportunity missed, but with the nascent state of pop culture licensing back then, and the fact that the attitude of the show being that designs like this were borderline evil, it never came to be.

Now my buddy from Chicago (who I haven’t seen in person for over thirty years), Mitch O’Connell, has done something about the situation. Here’s what Mitch says:

If you never saw the peewee version of ‘The Wild Ones’ on tv and are a little confused about what I’m yacking about, watch it for free.

I did see it as a youth, and immediately salivated over the surfin’ wild Rat Fink-like graphics, but sadly, they only existed in tv land. According to Tony ‘Wally’ Dow, a talented stagehand actually painted the iconic incredibly icky shirts that you see hanging in the window at Tildens. It took me 56 years to get around to doing my best to replicate those cool duds, and through Threadless, you can finally get all four Beaver horror heads printed on pretty much whatever your heart desires, including grey sweatshirts!

So if you go to Mitch’s Threadless store, you can purchase your favorite design (or all four) on an almost infinite variety of garments, in a rainbow of colors. You’ll also find a bunch of other cool designs by Mitch there. Best of all, you can pretend that they’re gifts, but actually keep them for yourself because they’re so cool.