After news of Tony Dow’s death was mistakenly announced on Tuesday, Deadline reports the Leave It To Beaver star passed on Wednesday. The 77-year-old actor was receiving hospice care for a battle with cancer. A statement on Dow’s Facebook page confirmed the news that his son, Christopher, relayed.
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. We know that the world is collectively saddened by the loss of this incredible man. He gave so much to us all and was loved by so many. One fan said it best—”It is rare when there is a person who is so universally loved like Tony.”
Our heart goes out to Tony’s wife, Lauren, who will miss her soulmate of 42 years…To his son, Christopher, who will dearly miss his father, who was also his best friend…to his daughter-in-law, Melissa, who loved him like her own father…To his Granddaughter, Tyla, who will undoubtedly carry on her Grandfather’s kind soul, To his Brother Dion and Sister-in-Law, Judy, and to all of his extended family and friends. Words cannot express how much we will all feel his absence, but will cherish the memories he left to each and every one of us.
Christopher has stated: Although this is a very sad day, I have comfort and peace that he is in a better place. He was the best Dad anyone could ask for. He was my coach, my mentor, my voice of reason, my best friend, my best man in my wedding, and my hero. My wife said something powerful and shows the kind of man he was. She said: “Tony was such a kind man. He had such a huge heart and I’ve never heard Tony say a bad or negative thing about anyone.”
We respectfully ask that everyone give the family privacy in their time of mourning.
According to Deadline, Dow sought to live a creative life and found that in more ways than just acting. Born in Hollywood on April 13, 1945, Dow was somewhat of an athlete early on becoming a Junior Olympian on his school’s diving team. He discovered acting when he answered the call sheet for what would be his most known role, Wally Cleaver on the 1950s family sitcom, Leave It to Beaver. For six years, he portrayed the older brother of the beloved Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver, played by Jerry Mathers (The Trouble With Harry). Mathers posted a tribute to his long-time friend and castmate on his Facebook page.
After the massive success of the television sitcom, Deadline reports Dow appeared on several other shows in bit parts including My Three Sons, Dr. Kildare, and Mr. Novak. However, he found it hard to break through the typecasting of his definitive child role. Taking a break from Hollywood, Dow enlisted in the National Guard. While he would return to acting in a few featured roles in the future, he began fulfilling his creative space elsewhere.
According to Deadline, Dow ventured into directing TV in the 1990s with future credits that included The New Lassie, Coach, Babylon 5, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. By the early 2000s, he was devoting more time to a trade he picked up in the 1970s as a woodworker. His unique sculpturing elected him one of three United States sculptors to be chosen for the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibition at the Louvre in 2008.
Throughout his life, Dow was a vocal advocate for mental health and depression as he experienced it after his Beaver success, via Deadline. In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Dow referenced bitterness toward his major success as a teen as the source of his depression.
“I think my anger stemmed from a lack of control in the Beaver show,” Dow said in the interview, “and also the fact that I was known for something I did when I was 12, a kid, and was now a person in his 20s who does things but was never recognized for anything I did. Anger, if its untreated, turns into depression. Anger turned inward.” You can view the clip below.
According to Deadline, Dow leaves behind Lauren Shudlind, his wife of 43 years; his son, Christopher; and, a brother and granddaughter.