LOS ANGELES – Even decades after the show ended, Barbara Billingsley expressed surprise at the lasting affection people had for “Leave It to Beaver” and her role as the warm, supportive mother of a pair of precocious boys.

The actress, who gained supermom status for her gentle portrayal of June Cleaver in the 1950s television series, died Saturday after a long illness. She was 94.

“We knew we were making a good show, because it was so well written,” Billingsley said in 1994. “But we had no idea what was ahead. People still talk about it and write letters, telling how much they watch it today with their children and grandchildren.”

Billingsley resurfaced in 1980 in a cameo in “Airplane!” When flight attendants were unable to communicate with a pair of jive-talking hipsters, Billingsley’s character volunteered to translate, saying, “I speak jive.” The three then engage in a raucous street-slang conversation.