Update: According to the New York Times and TMZ, Tony Dow is still alive and in hospice care. The statement announcing his death, which was posted to his official Facebook page, was reportedly done by mistake after Dow’s wife, Lauren, was led to believe that her husband had passed.
— Original Story —
Tony Dow, who played Wally Cleaver on the iconic American television sitcom Leave It To Beaver, has died at the age of 77.
Dow previously revealed in May of this year that he had been diagnosed with liver cancer.
“Tony was a beautiful soul – kind, compassionate, funny and humble,” reads a statement posted to Dow’s Facebook page. “It was truly a joy to just be around him. His gentle voice and unpretentious manner was immediately comforting and you could not help but love him. The world has lost an amazing human being, but we are all richer for the memories that he has left us.”
The son of a Hollywood stunt woman who was a Junior Olympics diving champion in his youth, Dow initially had no aspirations for a career in show business. He stumbled into the role of Wally Cleaver by happenstance, after accompanying a friend who was auditioning for a different project at the studio.
Alongside Jerry Mathers (who played the show’s namesake and Wally’s younger brother, Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver) and Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley (as the boys’ parents, Ward and June Cleaver), Dow starred in Leave It To Beaver for six seasons between 1957 and 1963. The series told the story of an idealized white suburban family, often through the lens of comedy and mischievous.
In the 1980s, Dow reprised the role of Wally in a television movie and sequel series, The New Leave It To Beaver.
Later in his career, Dow directed episodes of The New Lassie, Coach, Babylon 5, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He also pursued sculpting, and was chosen to represent the United States delegation in a showing at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibition, in the Carrousel du Louvre, in Paris, France, in December 2008.
In May 2020, Ken Osmond, who portrayed Wally Cleaver’s best friend, Eddie Haskell, passed away at the age of 76.