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R.I.P. Tony Dow, Who Played Wally Cleaver in Leave It To Beaver, Dead at 77

Dow starred in all six seasons of the iconic American sitcom

Tony Dow in Leave It To Beaver
Tony Dow in Leave It To Beaver, photo via ABC Photo Archives
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    Tony Dow, who played Wally Cleaver on the iconic American television sitcom Leave It To Beaver, died Wednesday, July 27th at the age of 77.

    Dow previously revealed in May of this year that he had been diagnosed with liver cancer.

    Dow’s death was prematurely announced on Tuesday by his wife, Lauren, was led to believe that her husband had passed. Now, Dow’s son, Christopher, has confirmed that his father has in fact passed away.

    “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,” reads a statement posted to the actor’s Facebook page.

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    The son of a Hollywood stunt woman who was a Junior Olympics diving champion in his youth, Dow initially had no aspirations for a career in show business. He stumbled into the role of Wally Cleaver by happenstance, after accompanying a friend who was auditioning for a different project at the studio.

    Alongside Jerry Mathers (who played the show’s namesake and Wally’s younger brother, Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver) and Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley (as the boys’ parents, Ward and June Cleaver), Dow starred in Leave It To Beaver for six seasons between 1957 and 1963. The series told the story of an idealized white suburban family, often through the lens of comedy and mischievous.

    In the 1980s, Dow reprised the role of Wally in a television movie and sequel series, The New Leave It To Beaver.

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    Later in his career, Dow directed episodes of The New Lassie, Coach, Babylon 5, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He also pursued sculpting, and was chosen to represent the United States delegation in a showing at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibition, in the Carrousel du Louvre, in Paris, France, in December 2008.

    In May 2020, Ken Osmond, who portrayed Wally Cleaver’s best friend, Eddie Haskell, passed away at the age of 76.

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