Tony Dow, known for playing Wally Cleaver on 'Leave It to Beaver,' dies at 77

CBS News Los Angeles: The Rundown (July 26 AM Edition)


Actor, director and artist Tony Dow, who is well known for playing Wally Cleaver on the sitcom “Leave It to Beaver,” is near death, according to his wife, Lauren Dow.

Frank Bilotta and Renee James, Dow’s management team and friends took to Facebook Tuesday morning to confirm the news. The post, however, was taken down, and Lauren Dow confirmed to CBS Sunday morning that her husband is still alive and breathing, but is in hospice care.

“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. 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.”

He had been battling a re-occurrence with cancer.

Dow was born in Hollywood and began playing Wally Cleaver at age 12.

“The genius of “Leave It to Beaver” was that the show was written from a child’s point of view,” Dow said to CBS in an interview.

Dow tagged along with his swimming coach to an audition and got the role. 

When the show’s run ended, Dow moved more into writing and directing, but continued to make appearances on shows including “The Love Boat,” “Charles in Charge” and “Lassie.” As a director, he helmed episodes of shows including “Coach,” “Babylon 5,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Swamp Thing.”

He has since spent much of his time focusing on his artwork.

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