Dow struggled with depression in his twenties and later survived two bouts of cancer.
Tony Dow, best remembered for his role as Wally Cleaver in the classic 1950s television sitcom Leave It to Beaver, died Wednesday morning at the age of 77. In a statement put on his official Facebook page, his family confirmed the news, reports CBS News.
The statement reads, "Tony passed away earlier this morning, with his loving family at his side to see him through this journey. We know that the world is collectively saddened by the loss of this incredible man. He gave so much to us all and was loved by so many."
Dow had been under hospice care following a cancer relapse. His death was widely reported on Tuesday after an earlier Facebook post published on his profile stated that he had died. As we reported earlier, the post was quickly removed and replaced with a disclaimer noting that Dow's "very distraught" wife had requested that the news should be shared with his admirers as soon as possible.
Tony Dow, who as Wally Cleaver on the sitcom “Leave It to Beaver” helped create the popular and lasting image of the American teenager of the 1950s and 60s, died Wednesday. He was 77. https://t.co/JMvsyzxlkR— The Associated Press (@AP) July 27, 2022
The new statement mentions receiving a confirmation from Dow's son, Christopher, along with his words, "Although this is a very sad day, I have comfort and peace that he is in a better place. 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."
Christopher's wife, Melissa Dow, said, "Tony was such a kind man. He had such a huge heart and I’ve never heard Tony say a bad or negative thing about anyone." The statement further reads, "We know that the world is collectively saddened by the loss of this incredible man. He gave so much to us all and was loved by so many." He had been married to Lauren Dow for 42 years.
Tony Dow, the actor and director best known for playing the stalwart older brother Wally Cleaver to Jerry Mathers’ Beaver in the iconic series “Leave It to Beaver,” died Wednesday after it was incorrectly announced Tuesday that he had died. He was 77.https://t.co/nsOUNgiyUC— Variety (@Variety) July 27, 2022
According to previous posts, the actor has been "in and out of the hospital" since being diagnosed with cancer many months ago. A statement posted on May 5 reads, "He is approaching this reality so bravely, but it is truly heartbreaking."
Dow was only 12 years old when he started playing older brother Wally Cleaver on the TV show presenting an idealized image of mid-century American life. Leave It to Beaver premiered in 1957 and became so popular that reruns have been shown for decades. Dow played Wally again as an adult in a reunion TV movie and series in the 1980s.
Jerry Mathers, who played his younger brother in the TV series, remembered Dow in a Facebook post, "He was not only my brother on TV, but in many ways in life as well. Tony leaves an empty place in my heart that won’t be filled. He was always the kindest, most generous, gentle, loving, sincere, and humble man, that it was my honor and privilege to be able to share memories together with for 65 years."
REST IN PEACE 💔 The "Leave It to Beaver" star Tony Dow has now died.— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) July 27, 2022
The actor - who was thrust into stardom at age 12 when he was cast on the soon-to-be-smash sitcom "Leave It to Beaver" - revealed in May that he had been diagnosed with cancer. https://t.co/hG7AiKkBZv pic.twitter.com/cTid934jWK
Dow continued his acting career while writing, producing, and directing episodes of Harry and the Hendersons, Coach, Babylon 5, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Dow featured in a number of television shows, including General Hospital, Mr. Novak, Never Too Young, Lassie, Love, American Style, Square Pegs, and The Love Boat, on which he played himself, per Variety.
Dow struggled with depression in his twenties, creating the self-help film Beating the Blues to aid others, and subsequently survived two bouts of cancer. He also became a sculptor and established a construction business.
He is survived by his wife Lauren, son Christopher, brother Dion, and a grandchild.
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Tony Dow