Tony Dow, Wally Cleaver of ‘Leave It to Beaver’, dies at 77

Tony Dowactor and director best known for portraying loyal older brother Wally Cleaver in Jerry Mathers’ Beaver in the iconic series “Leave It to Beaver”, is dead. He was 77 years old.

His official facebook page released the announcement on Tuesday.

“It is with extremely heavy hearts that we share with you the passing of our beloved Tony this morning,” said the announcement from his leadership team.

“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 to like.”

Dow was born in Hollywood and his mother was an early stunt double and Clara Bow. He was a Junior Olympics diving champion, but didn’t have much showbiz experience when he went with a friend and ended up auditioning and winning the role of Wally.

“Leave it to Beaver” began airing in 1957 and ran until 1963. The popular black-and-white sitcom centered on the idealized family typical of the era, following the adventures of mischievous young Beaver, his brother practice Wally, their sneaky friend Eddie Haskelland their enduring but understanding parents played by Barbara Billingsley and Hugues Beaumont.

The show’s writers Bob Mosher and Joe Connelly based the characters on their own children, incorporating details such as Wally’s constant hairstyling that they observed in their own teenage years. When the show ended, Wally was about to start college while Beaver was ready for high school.

Dow returned in the 1980s for the TV movie “Still the Beaver” and the series “The New Leave It to Beaver”, for which he also directed five episodes and wrote one.

Image: Tony Dow as
Tony Dow as “Wally” in “Leave it to Beaver”.ABC Photo Archive/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

He moved on to writing, producing and directing while continuing to act, and directed several episodes of ‘Harry and the Hendersons’, ‘Coach’, ‘Babylon 5’, ‘Honey, I Shrunk children” and an episode of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

After “Leave It to Beaver”, Dow appeared in series such as “General Hospital”, “Mr. Novak”, “Never Too Young”, “Lassie”, “Love, American Style”, “Square Pegs” and “The Love Boat”, on which he performed himself. He also starred himself in the 2003 comedy “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star,” which featured cameos from dozens of former young actors, and appeared in John Landis’ comedy feature “The Kentucky Fried Movie. “.

Dow battled depression in his twenties, making the “Beating the Blues” self-help video to help others, and later survived two bouts of cancer. He also became a sculptor and started a construction company.

“The world has lost an incredible human being, but we are all richer in the memories he left us,” said Tuesday’s announcement.

“Warm memories of Wally Cleaver to those of us who were lucky enough to know him personally – thank you Tony. And thank you for the reflections of a simpler time, the laughs, the friendship and the feeling that you were a big brother to all of us.”

“We will miss you.”

He is survived by his wife Lauren and two children.

Leave a Comment