‘Leave It to Beaver’ star Tony Dow dead at 77

Tony Dow, best known for his role as big brother Wally in the classic TV sitcom “Leave It to Beaver,” has died. He was 77.

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

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

“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. The world has lost an amazing human being, but we are all richer for the memories that he has left us.”

The post — written by Frank Bilotta and Renee James, who managed the star and called themselves “dear friends” — also thanked fans for their support.

“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. We will miss you.”

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

Because of death was not immediately given.

The actor, who played Wally Cleaver on the iconic ’50s sitcom, announced he was diagnosed with cancer on May 5.

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

LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, (top) Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley, Hugh Beaumo
“Leave It to Beaver” aired from 1957 until 1963.
Everett Collection

The Hollywood native’s health issues 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 corridors with his nurse. If he could only get rid of that darn cough. It’s going to take some time.”

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

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

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

Aside from “Leave It to Beaver,” Dow found success guest-starring on shows like “My Three Sons,” “Dr. Kildare,” “Lassie” and “The Greatest Show on Earth,” before taking on a recurring role on “Mr. Novak.” He also got behind the camera, having directed 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 his hand at writing and entered journalism school in the 1970s.

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

In the 1980s, he took on roles in the projects “Knight Rider,” “Square Pegs” and “Murder, She Wrote.”

The ’90s saw the filmmaker take some time behind the camera. He did some directing work on episodes for series such as “Babylon 5” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”


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