Tony Dow dead: ‘Leave It to Beaver’ actor was 77

Tony Dow, the actor best known as Wally Cleaver on the popular 1950s sitcom Leave It to Beaver, has died. He was 77.

Dow died Wednesday morning, his son Christopher Dow confirmed in a post on the actor’s official Facebook account. No cause of death was announced, but Dow was previously diagnosed with cancer.

“We have received confirmation from Christopher, Tony’s son, that Tony passed away this morning, with his loving family by his side to accompany him on this journey,” the Facebook post read Wednesday.

His death came not long after his management team and wife Lauren prematurely announced that the actor had died on Tuesday morning. Several news outlets had reported on Dow’s death, including The Times, urging his officials to delete the first Facebook post announcing his death. Dow’s verified Facebook account clarified Tuesday that Dow was still alive, but “was not doing well.”

Dow was diagnosed and treated for cancer a few years ago, and his wife announced in May that he had returned.

Dow was born on April 13, 1945 in Hollywood and grew up there. In 1957, the actor, who was then new to acting, made his Tinseltown debut as whip-smart, pompadourous Wally Cleaver on the popular sitcom Leave It to Beaver. .”

Wally was the older brother of Jerry Mathers’ Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver. Along with Mathers, Dow fostered a relatable fraternal chemistry; As Wally, Dow helped younger brother Beaver understand the ways of the world and charmed viewers with memorable one-liners.

When best friend Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond) asked Wally to tell his father that he was a “big, stupid idiot,” Wally playfully scoffed, “Don’t worry about it, Eddie. I think he suspected it for years.”

After the series ended in 1963, Dow appeared on other television shows including The Greatest Show on Earth, Mr. Novak” and “Never Too Young”.

The actor took a break from acting in 1965 to join the California Guard. He was assigned to special services and served as a photographer at headquarters and headquarters company of the 40th Armored Division, according to the Camp Roberts Historical Museum. He also studied journalism and photography during his service.

Dow returned to acting in the late ’60s and early ’70s, appearing in Lassie, A Great American Tragedy, and Death Scream. In 1969 he married Carol Marlow, with whom he has a son, Christopher Dow. In June 1980, Dow married Lauren Shulkind.

Dow reprized the role of Wally when the Cleaver family returned to television for the reunion film Still Beaver and the sequel series The New Leave It to Beaver, which ran from 1983 to 1989. During his time with the revival, Dow made his directorial debut, directing episodes for The New Leave It to Beaver and The New Lassie.

In 1988, Dow received the Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award at the Young Artists Awards for his performance as Cleaver.

The actor also dabbled in visual effects, earning credit for Babylon 5 and Doctor Who: The Movie, according to IMDb. He was also a painter and sculptor whose work was once exhibited at the Louvre in Paris.

He is survived by his son Christopher, wife Lauren, daughter-in-law Melissa, granddaughter Tyla, and a brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

“Although this is a very sad day, I have comfort and peace that he is in a better place. He was the best dad anyone could ask for,” Christopher Dow said in a Facebook post Wednesday. “He was my coach, my mentor, my voice of reason, my best friend, my best man at my wedding and my hero.” Tony Dow dead: ‘Leave It to Beaver’ actor was 77

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