Tony Dow, best known for playing Wally Cleaver in ‘Leave It to Beaver’, dies at 77

Tony Dow, best known for his role as Wally Cleaver in the iconic 1950s television series “Leave It to Beaver,” died Wednesday morning, his family confirmed in a statement posted on his official Facebook page. He was 77 years old.

“Tony passed away earlier this morning, with his loving family by his side to accompany him on this journey,” said the statement said. “We know the world is collectively saddened by the loss of this incredible man. He gave so much to all of us and was loved by so many.”

TV show cast
Cast of the TV show ‘Leave It To Beaver’, circa 1959. Clockwise (from top): Tony Dow, Hugh Beaumont, Jerry Mathers and Barbara Billingsley.

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Dow had been in hospice care after a cancer recurrence. His death was widely reported on Tuesday after a previous Facebook post shared on his page announced that he had died. But the post was quickly deleted, then replaced with a notice explaining that Dow’s “very distraught” wife had asked for the news to be shared with her fans too soon, and that “although Tony is not well, he is not has not passed yet.”

Wednesday’s new statement said: “We have received confirmation from Christopher, Tony’s son, that Tony passed away earlier this morning.”

Dear family, friends and fans We have received confirmation from Christopher, Tony’s son, that Tony passed away early…

posted by Tony Dow on Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Previous posts said the actor was “in and out of hospital” after being diagnosed with cancer several months ago.

“He approaches this reality with so much courage, but it is truly heartbreaking,” read a statement about his diagnosis, released May 5.

Dow was just 12 when he started playing big brother Wally Cleaver on the television series depicting an idealistic version of mid-century American life. “Leave It to Beaver” debuted in 1957 and proved so popular that its reruns have been on the air for decades. Dow reprized the role of Wally as an adult in a TV movie and reunion series in the 1980s.

In a interview with Jim Axelrod of CBS News in January, Dow said “the genius of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ was that the series was written from a child’s point of view.”


Tony Dow on a post-“Leave It to Beaver” art life

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He was married to his wife, Lauren Dow, for 42 years.

During his chat with Axelrod, the actor shared that he and his wife turned to art, and he even credited his art — combined with medication and therapy — with helping him get his heart under control. depression.

“And I have it under control, pretty much,” he told Axelrod. “You know, I think people should take a leap of faith that they can feel better.”

Dow said he finds it “sad to be famous at 12 or something, and then you grow up and become a real person, and nothing happens to you.”

Sadness turned to anger, preparing Dow for a struggle that would mark the rest of his life.

“Anger, if left untreated, anger turns into depression,” he said. “But depression isn’t something you can say ‘Chery up!’ You know, it’s a very powerful thing, and it’s had a big effect on my life.

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