Tony Dow, known for playing Wally Cleaver on “Leave It to Beaver”, dies at 77

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

“Tony passed away earlier this morning, with his loving family by his side to guide him on this journey,” the statement read. “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.”

Cast of the TV show “Leave It To Beaver”, circa 1959. Clockwise (top to bottom): Tony Dow, Hugh Beaumont, Jerry Mathers and Barbara Billingsley.

Getty Images

Dow was in hospice after a cancer recurrence. His death was widely publicized on Tuesday after an earlier Facebook post on his page said he had passed away. But the post was soon deleted and later replaced with a post explaining that Dow’s “very distraught” wife had asked for the news to be shared too soon with his fans, and that “although Tony is not well, he is not yet passed.”

Wednesday’s new statement read: “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 has previously passed away…

Posted by Tony Dow on Wednesday 27 July 2022

Earlier reports said the actor had been “in and out of the hospital” after being diagnosed with cancer several months ago.

“He’s approaching this reality so bravely, but it’s really heartbreaking,” said a statement about his diagnosis, posted May 5.

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

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

Tony Dow On A Lifetime Of Art After “Leave It To Beaver”


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

During his conversation with Axelrod, the actor mentioned that he and his wife have turned to art, and he has even credited his art — combined with medication and therapy — for helping him manage his depression.

“And I’ve got it pretty much under control,” he told Axelrod. “You know, I think people should take the plunge and feel better.”

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

The sadness turned to anger, forcing Dow into a battle 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 ‘Cheer up!’ about. You know, it’s something very powerful. And it’s had a lot of effect on my life.”

Leave a Comment