Tony Dow’s wife mistaken; ‘Leave it to Beaver’ star still alive, reps say | News

Tony Dow, the actor and director best known for his role as older brother Wally Cleaver on “Leave It to Beaver,” is still alive, but he “is not doing well,” according to an update from his management team.

Frank and Renee James, Dow’s managers, posted on Dow’s official Facebook fan page on Tuesday that Dow had died after a battle with cancer. That post has since been deleted and replaced with a new message.

“This morning Tony’s wife Lauren, who was very distraught, had notified us that Tony had passed and asked that we notify all his fans,” the James said in their update. “As we are sure you can understand, this has been a very trying time for her. We have since received a call from Tony’s daughter-in-law saying that while Tony is not doing well, he has not yet passed.”

Tony Dow, an actor and director best known for his role as “The Beaver’s” older brother Wally Cleaver on “Leave It to Beaver,” died Tuesday, according to his agent.

Dow’s son, Christopher, told Fox News that his father is in his “last hours.”

“This is a difficult time,” Christopher Dow said. “Yes, he is still alive, but in his last hours; under hospice care.”

Dow revealed in May that he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Dow was thrust into stardom at age 12, when he was cast on the soon-to-be-smash sitcom “Leave It to Beaver.” In the role, Dow helped create the archetype of a suburban nuclear family and became a household name to millions of viewers. The show ran from 1957 to 1963.

In a January interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Dow recalled learning over a hamburger and malt that he was offered the part after auditioning on a whim.

“There went my life,” he said.

Wally Cleaver, the straight-arrow teenage son, star athlete and Boy Scout, became inextricably tied to Dow, who said he struggled to stand on his own.

“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 happened for you,” he told CBS.

Leave It To Beaver

Members of the original cast of the “Leave It To Beaver” television series pause during filming of an upcoming TV special, “Still The Beaver,” in Los Angeles on Dec. 10, 1982. From left to right are Ken Osmond, Tony Dow, Babara Billingsley and Jerry Mathers.

Dow, who said he experienced undiagnosed depression from age 20 to age 40, spoke out for the decades about his mental health challenges, long before it was common for celebrities to disclose that information publicly. In 1993, he was an honorary speaker at a convention for the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association.

“I realize there’s a perceived irony about this,” he told the Baltimore Sun of his depression in 1993. “You know, the fact that I was in a TV program that epitomized the supposed ideal world of the ’50s, and here I’ m suffering from depression. But I’m just one of millions.”

Dow told CBS that once he accepted his diagnosis and began treatment, he found hope. He channeled that hope into art, too, sculpting ornate pieces at his home studio.

“I think people should take the leap of faith that they can feel better,” he said.

Jerry Mathers;Barbara Billingsley;  Tony Dow;  Lauren Shulkind;Frank Bank;Ken Osmond

The cast of Leave It To Beaver poses for a photo as they are reunited in Santa Monica, Calif. Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show. The cast was shooting a segment for Good Morning America. Seated (L to R): Jerry Mathers, Barbara Billingsley, Tony Dow and his wife Lauren Shulkind. Standing (L to R): Frank Bank and Ken Osmond.

Dow continued to work in Hollywood, taking parts in TV series and even reprising his role in “The New Leave It to Beaver” in the 1980s. He also directed episodes of series like “Harry and the Hendersons,” “Coach” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

Jerry Mathers, who starred opposite Dow as Beaver on their hit sitcom, told fans earlier this month that he’d been in contact with Dow, whose managers said had been “in and out of the hospital with various complications and treatments.”


Leave a Comment