UPDATE: Tony Dow is on his deathbed, his family told media outlets on Tuesday after it was incorrectly reported by the 77-year-old Leave It to Beaver star’s management team that he had died.
Dow’s son Christopher confirmed to PEOPLE: “This is a difficult time. Yes he is still alive but in his last hours. Under hospice care.”
“My wife and I are by his side,” Christopher added, expanding on his comments to Fox News Digital.
Dow’s wife, Lauren Shulkind, also confirmed to CBS News her husband is “near death.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Dow’s management team — Frank Bilotta and Renee James — wrongfully announced his death in a Facebook post. “It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share with you the passing of our beloved Tony this morning,” the now-deleted post read.
“Tony was a beautiful soul – kind, compassionate, funny and humble. It was truly a joy to just be around him,” they continued. “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 actor’s team also pointed to his role as Wally Cleaver — the All-American big brother not only to “Beaver” Ward Cleaver (Jerry Mathers), but to viewers everywhere.
“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.”
ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty
Dow was diagnosed with an unspecified type of cancer in March. His wife, Shulkind, told TMZ the couple was heartbroken over the diagnosis.
The star was best known for his role as Wally on Leave It to Beaver from 1957 to 1963 on the CBS/ABC series. He held a long list of acting credits, including roles in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Lassie, Never Too Young and Mr. Novak.
In addition, Dow was a noted Hollywood director on series including The New Leave It to Beaver, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids: The TV Show, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Crusade and Babylon 5.
In January, Dow spoke to CBS This Morning about his role on Leave It to Beaver, and how childhood stardom led to a lack of authority in his own life. “From the time I was 11 or 12, I was told what to do. I was told on the set. I was told at home. I didn’t have control of my life,” Dow said.
He added that the role of Wally did define him — though he didn’t sign up for the fame that followed. “I was gonna have to live with it for the rest of my life,” Dow said. “It’s sad to be famous at 12 years old or something, and then you grow up and become a real person, and nothing’s happening for you.
Dow admitted that he held anger surrounding the Leave It to Beaver box he found himself in — which turned into depression.
In the later years of his life, Dow found meaning again in art. He spent the last 20 years as a sculptor with a passion for turning art into something new — including altering emotions on statues. Alongside Shulkind, whom he married in 1980, he put his artwork at the forefront.