Tony Dow, who played Wally Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver, has died. This comes after his death was erroneously confirmed earlier this week, when his wife inadvertently “inferred” to his management that he had died. According to Variety, the actor, who’s been in hospice care for some time, was diagnosed with cancer after previously suffering from it years earlier. He was 77 years old.
In a Facebook post announcing the news (per Deadline), his management team wrote:
It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share with you the passing of our beloved Tony this morning. 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 continued, “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.”
Dow was best known for playing the elder Cleaver brother; he later had guest appearances on shows like General Hospital, My Three Sons, and Mr. Novak. He eventually worked behind the scenes writing, producing, and directing, including episodes of Coach, Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and more.
According to the Deadline post, he later pivoted to a career as a sculptor and “was one of three United States sculptors chosen for the 2008 Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibition at the Louvre.” He is survived by his wife of 42 years Lauren Shulkind, son Christopher (with ex-wife Carol Marlow), a brother, and a granddaughter.
Dow’s television sibling Jerry Mathers posted a tribute to his co-star on his own Facebook, writing, “It is with the utmost sadness I learned this morning of my co-star and lifelong friend Tony Dow’s passing. 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.”
Mathers continued, “Tony was so grateful for all of the love and support from our fans across the world. My wife Teresa and I send our deepest condolences to his wife Lauren, his family and to all of those who knew and loved him. The world may have lost a star today, but the heavens gained another.”