Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford died the other day at age 71, and given the man had by his own account (via his autobiography “Call Me Lumpy” ) banged more than 1,000 women, pounding a bit hard on the beaver so to speak, it’s a wonder he lived as long as he did.
For those under the age of 40, Frank Bank played an oafish bully nicknamed Lumpy on the 50’s era, white-bread comedy series “Leave it to Beaver.” My recollection at the time was that Bank deserved the moniker “Lumpy” because compared to the athletic, boy-next-door Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow) and the anorexic, hyperactive Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond), Bank was an overweight blob of cellulite, a pure dough-boy. As a first-grader in 1963, I personally knew of no adolescents rivaling the plumpness of Lumpy, and it wasn’t until the eighth grade that I first encountered a fellow student who surpassed Lumpy’s enormity.
That said, were the Lumpy Rutherford of the late 50s magically transported to any American high-school across the fruited plain, he’d be among the fitter of today’s bunch of fried-cheese and McNugget-eating youngsters who would equate walking up an escalator with running a half-marathon.
It’s remarkable in light of today’s juvenile obesity epidemic that Lumpy was considered a corpulent cretin in his time. I would even go so far as to assert that Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden – who was the heaviest load in the early days of television – would not deviate from the norm in modern America, his girth no greater than that of many sedentary, middle-school fast-food chompers. Imagine if the local high-school drama club decided to put on an episode of “The Honeymooners.” No doubt the biggest casting challenge would be to find someone rail-thin enough to play Ed Norton.