Actor Tony Dow, best known for portraying Wally Cleaver on iconic family sitcom “Leave It to Beaver”, has passed away at age 77.
On Wednesday, the actor’s management shared the sad news that he had passed away in a post on his Facebook page.
“We have received confirmation from Christopher, Tony’s son, that Tony passed away earlier this morning, with his loving family at his side to see him through this journey,” the statement said.
“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,” it continued. “One fan said it best—’It is rare when there is a person who is so universally loved like Tony.'”
The statement also included words from Dow’s son Christopher, who said, “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. My wife said something powerful and shows the kind of man he was. She 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 sad news comes a day after confusion about Dow’s condition led his wife to communicate to his management team that he had died, though at that time he was still alive.
After a post on his Facebook page announcing his death was taken down, Los Angeles ABC reporter George Pennacchio confirmed that Dow, who was in home hospice care, had not yet died.
“I had a conversation with his wife, Lauren,” Pennacchio wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “She is understandably distraught and grief-stricken about what’s been going on with Tony’s health battle these past months. He’s been in hospice care at their home, and based on some health issues overnight, Lauren inferred that Tony had passed away to some people close to her and the word quickly spread.”
He continued, “She told me she now feels ‘foolish’ about what has transpired since his death has been reported around the world. She also told me, through her pain, ‘it is of my own doing.’ I told her we know it’s been a very stressful time and people understand overwhelming grief. Lauren says she ‘loves and adores’ her husband of 42 years with all of her heart.”
Finally, the reporter added, “While she did say he passed, she now understands the miscommunication and is sorry for causing a commotion in this challenging time.”
The original statement announcing Dow’s death had read, “It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share with you the passing of our beloved Tony this morning.”
“The world has lost an amazing human being, but we are all richer for the memories that he has left us,” the statement added. “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 played Wally Cleaver, older brother of Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver (played by Jerry Mathers), throughout the series’ 1957-1963 run.
He would go on to reprise the role in the 1983 TV movie “Still the Beaver” and the revival series “The New Leave It to Beaver”, which ran from 1983-1989.
Subsequent screen roles including such TV series as “Dr. Kildare”, “My Three Sons”, “Lassie”, “Mod Squad”, “The Love Boat” and many others.
Dow also worked behind the camera as a producer, visual effects supervisor and director, directing episodes of TV series including “Harry and the Hendersons”, “Coach”, “Babylon 5” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and more.
In recent years, Dow worked as a sculptor.
In May 2022, Dow revealed that he’d been diagnosed with cancer, but offered no further details.
After the mistaken announcement of his death, Dow’s onscreen brother, Jerry Mathers, paid tribute in a heartfelt post he shared on Facebook.
“It is with the utmost sadness I learned this morning of my co-star and lifelong friend Tony Dow’s passing,” wrote Mathers.
“He was not only my brother on tv, but in many ways in life as well,” he added, noting that Dow’s passing “leaves an empty place in my heart that won’t be filled… The world may have lost a star today, but the heavens gained another.
Many others also pay tribute on social media, including Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson, “Resident Alien” star Alan Tudyk and more.
Thinking of Tony Dow, who passed this morning. pic.twitter.com/NXr24ulpbb
— Brian Wilson (@BrianWilsonLive) July 26, 2022
Tony Dow built the beach house I lived in when I first moved to Los Angeles to shoot Firefly. Hell of a carpenter. https://t.co/EOA3nWm9hj
— alan tudyk (@AlanTudyk) July 26, 2022
Man, so sad to hear that a life-long TV favorite of mine, Tony Dow, Wally from "Leave It To Beaver" just passed away. R.I.P. Wally pic.twitter.com/jVTztZTTMa
— Jerry Lawler (@JerryLawler) July 26, 2022