‘Leave It Beaver’ star Tony Dow dies at 77

Tony Dow, best known for his role as Big Brother Wally on the classic TV series Leave It to Beaver, has passed away. He was 77 years old.

His management team announced the news of his death on his official Facebook page on Tuesday morning.

“It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of our beloved Tony this morning,” the post read.

“Tony was a beautiful soul – kind, compassionate, funny and down to earth. It was a real pleasure to be around him. His gentle voice and down-to-earth style were instantly comforting and you couldn’t help but love him. The world has lost a wonderful human being, but we are all richer in the memories he left us.”

The post – written by Frank Pelotta and Renee James, who directed the star and called themselves “Dear Friends” – also thanked fans for their support.

“From the warm memories of Wally Cleaver to those of us lucky enough to get to know him personally – thank you Tony. And thank you for the simpler time reflections, the laughter, the friendship and the feeling that you were such a big brother to us all. We will miss you.”

Tony Dow

He is survived by his wife, Lauren, and two children.

The cause of death was not immediately revealed.

The actor, who played Wally Cleaver on the popular 1950s sitcom, announced that he has cancer on May 5.

His wife shared the news and thanked fans for their prayers, but she wouldn’t reveal what type of cancer Dow was battling, according to TMZ.

Leave it to endure, (top) Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley, Hugh Bomo
Leave It To The Beaver aired from 1957 to 1963.
Everett Group

The Hollywood native’s health problems first surfaced in August 2021 when he was briefly hospitalized with pneumonia.

“Tony’s spirit is positive,” Lauren wrote on Facebook last year. “He gets his daily exercise by walking the aisles with his nurse. If only he could get rid of that darn cough. It will take some time.”

She noted at the time that he had a “violent cough” that was “causing pains in the top of his head” at the time.

Dow played Wally, the older brother of Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver (Jerry Mathers), during the original show from 1957 to 1963 for six seasons.

He later reprized his role in the sequel to the sitcom “The New Leave It to Beaver” in 1983. The show aired for four seasons until 1989. The new series followed the Cleaver children as adults dealing with their family’s issues.

Jerry Mathers, Barbara Billingsley, and Tony Dow
Jerry Mathers, Barbara Billingsley, and Tony Dow celebrated the 50th anniversary of the beloved sitcom in 2007.
AP

Aside from “Leave It to Beaver,” Dow successfully starred in guest appearances on shows such as “My Three Sons,” “Dr. Kildare,” “Lassie,” and “The Greatest Show on Earth,” before taking a recurring role on “Mr. Novak.” He also stood behind the camera, directing episodes of TV shows like “Coach,” “Babylon 5,” and “Harry and the Hendersons.”

In 1965, he took a break from acting to serve in the National Guard for three years. He even tried writing and entered journalism school in the 1970s.

Dow has also spent the decade with guest spots on “Adam-12”, “The Mod Squad” and “Love American Style”.

In the 80s, he took on roles in the projects “Knight Rider”, “Square Pegs” and “Murder, She Wrote”.

The 1990s saw the director take some time behind the camera. He did some directing work on episodes of series such as “Babylon 5” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”.

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