Family Confirms Death of Tony Dow

'Wally Cleaver' actor was 77
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2022 6:00 PM CDT
Family Confirms Death of Tony Dow
Tony Dow, actor, director, and artist, poses at his home and studio in the Topanga area of Los Angeles, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2012. “   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

On Tuesday, reports of Leave It to Beaver star Tony Dow's death turned out to be erroneous. On Wednesday, sadly, they were true, according to a statement from his manager, Frank Bilotta, CNN reports. A statement on the 77-year-old actor's official Facebook page said confirmation had been received from Dow's son, Christopher, that "Tony passed away earlier this morning, with his loving family at his side to see him through this journey." Dow is also survived by Lauren, his wife of 42 years, and his brother Dion.

"Although this is a very sad day, I have comfort and peace that he is in a better place,” the Facebook post quoted Dow's son as saying. "He was the best Dad anyone could ask for. He was my coach, my mentor, my voice of reason, my best friend, my best man in my wedding, and my hero." Dow, who had liver cancer, played Wally Cleaver, big brother of "Beaver Cleaver," in Leave It to Beaver, which ran from 1957 to 1963, and reprised the role in a sequel series in the 1980s. Dow was born in 1945 in Hollywood, where his mother was a stuntwoman. He had other roles over the years, but he felt "hopelessly typecast" by the straight-arrow Wally, the New York Times reports.

In the 1980s, he went public with his struggles with clinical depression and made self-help videos on dealing with the illness, reports the AP. In the '90s, he started working as a director. When he was in his 50s, he took up sculpting and was renowned for his abstract bronzes. One piece, "Unarmed Warrior," was displayed at a Louvre exhibition in 2008. In later years, he said he no longer felt weighed down by his early success on Leave It to Beaver. "I felt that way probably from the time I was 20 until I was maybe 40," he said earlier this year, per the Times. "At 40, I realized how great the show was." (Read more Tony Dow stories.)

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