Tony Dow, ‘Leave It To Beaver’ actorwho played Wally Cleaver on the popular sitcom, died Tuesday at age 77.
Dow manager Frank Bilotta said in an email to USA TODAY on Tuesday that the actor “passed away from cancer.”
In a now-deleted statement on Dow’s Facebook page, Bilotta and Renee James shared the news: “It is with extremely heavy hearts that we share with you the passing of our beloved Tony this morning,” they wrote. declared.
“Tony was a beautiful soul – kind, compassionate, funny and humble. It was truly a joy to just be around him. His soft voice and unassuming manner were immediately heartwarming and you couldn’t help love,” they added.
“The world has lost an incredible human being, but we are all richer in the memories he left us. Warm memories of Wally Cleaver to those of us lucky enough to know him personally – thank you Tony. And thank you for the reflections of a simpler time, the laughter, the friendship and the feeling that you were a big brother to all of us,” the post read.
In the hit sitcom, which aired on CBS and then ABC from 1957 to 1963, Wally was the eldest son of Ward and June, a more direct contrast to the more eccentric main character of Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver (Jerry Mathers). A popular jock, Wally has also been ensnared by the schemes of his friend, the mischievous and talkative Eddie Haskell (Ken Osmond).
The news comes less than three months after the actor and his wife, Lauren Shulkind, released a joint statement share the “very sad news” of his cancer diagnosisalthough they did not disclose details of the illness.
“Dear friends and Tony Dow fans, I have some very sad news to share with you. Sadly, Tony has been diagnosed with cancer again. He approaches this reality with such courage, but it is truly heartbreaking,” reads the joint statement. .
Cancer by Tony Dow:‘Leave It To Beaver’ announces diagnosis: ‘It’s really heartbreaking’
Mathers mourned his ‘Beaver’ co-star in a post on Facebook on Tuesdayclaiming that Dow was not just a brother on television, but “in many ways in life as well”.
“Tony leaves an empty place in my heart that will not be filled. He was always the kindest, most generous, gentle, loving, sincere and humble man, it was my honor and my privilege to be able to share memories with him for 65 years,” he wrote. “The world may have lost a star today, but the sky has gained another.
Mathers had updated fans on Dow’s cancer battle on Thursdayasking for “prayers and healings”.
He included a note from Dow’s Facebook page, which said his illness had been a “roller coaster of ups and downs” with Dow “in and out of the hospital with various complications and treatments.”
The actor and director has gone public with his previous health issues. In August, he was hospitalized with pneumonia, Bilotta confirmed at the time.
Dow then reprized his role as Wally in a spin-off “Beaver” from 1983 to 1989. He also directed several episodes of 1993’s “Babylon 5” as well as 1999 episodes of “Crusade” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”.
The actor, born Anthony Lee Dow, starred in numerous television series as a child and was involved with A Minor Consideration, a nonprofit foundation that supports child actors.
In 2017, Dow reflected on his acting career and celebrated the 60th anniversary of “Leave It To Beaver.” in an interview with the Arizona Republicwhich is part of the USA TODAY Network.
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“It’s nice to be remembered in every possible way, so I accomplished that,” Dow said at the time. “I enjoy the show much more. I was not unhappy, but I was always a bit rebellious.”
Dow’s friends in the industry paid tribute to the actor on social media, also remembering him as an artist and carpenter.
TV producer Jim Michaels shared in a post“I will miss my friend Tony Dow – an incredibly kind person, talented director, actor, wood craftsman and artist. I smile every time I think of him and his beloved wife Lauren. I have loved playing golf with him and his favorite barefoot approach to golf. shoes!”
Wrestler Jerry Lawler shared his wish for Dow to rest in peace. “Man, so sad to hear that one of my TV favorites, Tony Dow, Wally from ‘Leave It To Beaver’ has just passed away. RIP Wally”
Actor Alan Tudyk praised Dow’s carpentry skills in a tweet: “Tony Dow built the beach house I lived in when I first moved to Los Angeles to shoot Firefly,” he posted. “Hell of a carpenter.”
Contributors: Elise Brisco, Jenna Ryu, Erin Jensen