'Leave It To Beaver' Star Tony Dow Dies At 77

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Tony Dow promtional photo for “Leave it to Beaver” in 1961.

ABC Photo Archives via Getty Images

Actor Tony Dow, who played Wally Cleaver on the long-running sitcom “Leave It To Beaver,” died Tuesday morning at the age of 77.

Dow’s death was announced on his Facebook page, but no cause was mentioned. His wife, Lauren Shulkind, shared in May that he had once again been diagnosed with cancer, according to Variety.

Born in Hollywood, Dow had a show business connection from the beginning: His mother was a stunt woman in the early days of the film industry.

However, Dow was more interested in swimming growing up and was a Junior Olympics diving champion, per Variety.

He got his big break in 1957 when he tagged along with a friend to an audition and ended up being cast as Wally, the older brother of Beaver Cleaver, played by Jerry Mathers.

The show ran from 1957 to 1963 and still airs in syndication.

After the show ended, Dow continued to act, but also served in the National Guard between 1965 and 1968, according to TMZ.

According to The Washington Post, Dow’s career stalled after his stint in the Guard. He couldn’t make acting commitments since he never knew when he’d be ordered to report for active duty.

However, he joked that he was cast on the popular cop show “Adam-12” because he “was the only actor in town at that time with short hair.”

Jerry Mathers (left) and Tony Dow are seen on Nov. 26, 2017, in Los Angeles.

GP/Star Max via Getty Images

In the late ’70s, Dow reunited with Mathers to tour dinner theaters in the play “So Long Stanley.”

In the early ’80s, most of the “Beaver” cast reunited for the television movie “Still the Beaver,” which later inspired a “Leave It To Beaver” reboot that ran on TBS from 1986 to 1989.

Dow directed five episodes and wrote one for the show, and later branched out into directing other series, including “Harry and the Hendersons,” “Coach,” “Babylon 5,” “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” according to Variety.

Starting in his 20s, Dow battled clinical depression, and gave speeches telling people that “If Wally Cleaver can be depressed, anybody can be.”

He also had a side career as a sculptor. His works appeared in galleries and international exhibitions.

Dow is survived by his second wife, Lauren, and two children.

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