Tony Dow, Wally Cleaver from ‘Leave It to Beaver’, dies aged 77

Tony Dow, the actor and director best known for playing brave older brother Wally Cleaver in Jerry Mathers’ Beaver Cult series “Leave It to Beaver” died. He was 77.

His official facebook page released the announcement on Tuesday.

“It is with an extremely heavy heart that we announce the passing of our beloved Tony this morning,” his management team said in an announcement.

“Tony was a beautiful soul – kind, compassionate, funny and humble. It was truly a pleasure just to be around him. His soft voice and unpretentious manner were instantly reassuring and you couldn’t help but love him.”

Born in Hollywood, Dow’s mother was an early stuntwoman and double for Clara Bow. He was a junior Olympic gold medalist in diving but didn’t have much showbiz experience when he got together with a friend and ended up auditioning for the role of Wally and winning it.

Leave It to Beaver aired in 1957 and ran until 1963. The popular black-and-white sitcom centered on the typical idealized family of the time and followed the adventures of mischievous young Beaver, his handy brother Wally and their sneaky friend Eddie Haskell and her long-suffering but understanding parents played by Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont.

The show’s writers, Bob Mosher and Joe Connelly, modeled the characters on their own children and incorporated details like Wally’s constant combing of their hair that they observed in their own teenagers. As the show wound down, Wally wanted to start college while Beaver was ready for high school.

Dow returned in the 1980s for the TV movie Still the Beaver and the series The New Leave It to Beaver, for which he also directed five episodes and wrote one.

Image: Tony Dow as "Wally" in "Leave it to beavers."
Tony Dow as Wally in Leave It to Beaver.ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

He transitioned into writing, producing, and directing while continuing to be an actor, directing several episodes of Harry and the Hendersons, Coach, Babylon 5, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and an episode of Star Trek : Deep Room Nine.”

After Leave It to Beaver, Dow appeared in shows like General Hospital, Mr. Novak, Never Too Young, Lassie, Love, American Style, Square Pegs, and The Love Boat, which he himself starred on. He also played himself in the 2003 comedy Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, which featured cameos from dozens of former young actors, and appeared in the John Landis sketch comedy The Kentucky Fried Movie.

Dow battled depression in his 20s, made the self-help video “Beating the Blues” to help others, and later survived two bouts of cancer. He also became a sculptor and founded a construction company.

“The world has lost an amazing human being, but we are all richer for the memories he left us,” read Tuesday’s announcement.

“From the fond memories of Wally Cleaver to those of us who were lucky enough to know him personally – thank you Tony. And thank you for the reflections on a simpler time, the laughs, the friendship and for making us feel like a big brother.”

“We will miss you.”

He is survived by his wife Lauren and two children. Tony Dow, Wally Cleaver from ‘Leave It to Beaver’, dies aged 77

Fry Electronics Team

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