'Leave it to Beaver' star Tony Dow dies at 77

The actor is best known for his role as Wally Cleaver in the iconic TV sitcom.

July 27, 2022, 3:46 PM

Tony Dow, best known for playing Wally Cleaver on the iconic TV sitcom "Leave it to Beaver," has died. He was 77.

"It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share with you the passing of our beloved Tony this morning," Dow's management team and friends wrote in a statement posted Wednesday. "Tony was a beautiful soul -- kind, compassionate, funny and humble. 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."

PHOTO: Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow, stars of "Leave It To Beaver."
Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow, stars of "Leave It To Beaver."
Abc Photo Archives/Getty Images, FILE

Dow was born in Hollywood, California, in 1945 and began his career on television as older brother Wally Cleaver in "Leave it to Beaver" from 1957 to 1963. After, he went on to star in a number of television shows, including "Never Too Young," and made appearances in "Murder She Wrote," "Charles in Charge" and "The Mod Squad."

He returned to his role as Wally Cleaver in "The New Leave It To Beaver," which followed Wally and Beaver as adults, and ran for four seasons beginning in 1983.

Dow also tried his hand at directing, helming episodes of "The New Leave It To Beaver," "Swamp Thing" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show."

In 1987, he was honored by the Young Artist Foundation with its Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award for his role as Wally Cleaver.

PHOTO: Jerry Mathers, as Theodore Cleaver, and Tony Dow, as Wally Cleaver, star in "Leave It To Beaver."
Jerry Mathers, as Theodore Cleaver, and Tony Dow, as Wally Cleaver, star in "Leave It To Beaver."
CBS via Getty Images
PHOTO: Tony Dow, actor, director and artist, poses at his home and studio in the Topanga area of Los Angeles, Sept. 18, 2012.
Tony Dow, actor, director and artist, poses at his home and studio in the Topanga area of Los Angeles, Sept. 18, 2012.
Reed Saxon/AP, FILE

In August 2021, his wife, Lauren Shulkind, said that Dow had been hospitalized with pneumonia, but wrote on Facebook that Dow was in good spirits.

In May, Dow shared the news that he was diagnosed with cancer.

After his diagnosis, Dow kept fans updated on Facebook, sharing that he began immunotherapy in late May and thanked everyone for their well wishes and prayers.

Last week, Frank and Renee, Dow's management team, shared on Facebook that Dow had been "in and out of the hospital with various complications and treatments."

"The world has lost an amazing human being, but we are all richer for the memories that he has left us," the statement from Dow's management team said. "From the warm reminiscences of Wally Cleaver to those of us fortunate enough to know him personally -- thank you Tony. And thank you for the reflections of a simpler time, the laughter, the friendship and for the feeling that you were a big brother to us all."

On Tuesday, Dow's agent had incorrectly posted on Facebook that the actor had died, only to later delete the post after Dow's wife said he was still alive.

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