Baltimore Sun

Actor earned early fame as Wally on ‘Leave It to Beaver’

- By Alexandra Del Rosario and Kenan Draughorne

Tony Dow, the actor best known as Wally Cleaver in the beloved 1950s and ’60s sitcom “Leave It to Beaver,” has died. He was 77.

Dow died Wednesday morning, his son, Christophe­r Dow, confirmed in a post on the actor’s official Facebook account. No cause of death was revealed, but Dow was previously diagnosed with cancer.

“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,” the Wednesday Facebook post said.

His death came not long after his management team and wife, Lauren, prematurel­y announced that the actor had died Tuesday morning. Several news outlets had reported Dow’s death, including the L.A. Times, prompting his representa­tives to delete the initial Facebook post announcing his demise. Dow’s verified Facebook account clarified on Tuesday that Dow was still alive but “not doing well.”

Dow was diagnosed with and treated for cancer several years ago, and his wife announced in May that it had returned.

Dow was born on April 13, 1945, in Hollywood where he was raised. In 1957, the actor, who at the time possessed little acting experience, made his debut when he was cast in “Leave It to Beaver.”

Wally was the older brother to Jerry Mathers’ titular Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver. Together with Mathers, Dow fostered a relatable brotherly chemistry; as Wally, Dow helped

younger brother Beaver understand the ways of the world and charmed viewers with memorable one-liners.

When best friend Eddie Haskell, played by Ken Osmond, asked Wally to tell his father that he’s a “big, stupid dope,” Wally playfully scoffed: “Don’t worry about it, Eddie. I think he’s kind of suspected it for years.”

After the series concluded in 1963, Dow appeared in additional TV shows, including “The Greatest Show on Earth,” “Mr. Novak” and “Never Too Young.”

The actor joined the California Guard in 1965. He was assigned to Special Services and served as a photograph­er in Headquarte­rs and Headquarte­rs Company, 40th Armored Division, according to the Camp Roberts Historical Museum. During his service, he also studied journalism and photograph­y.

Dow returned to acting in the late 1960s and early 1970s, appearing in “Lassie,” “A Great American Tragedy” and “Death Scream.” In 1969, he married Carol

Marlow, with whom he shares son Christophe­r Dow. In June 1980, Dow married Lauren Shulkind.

Dow reprised the role of Wally when the Cleaver family returned to television for the reunion movie “Still the Beaver” and the sequel series “The New Leave It to Beaver,” which ran 1983–1989. During his time on the revival, Dow debuted his directing chops, helming episodes for both “The New Leave It to Beaver” and “The New Lassie.”

In 1988 the Young Artists Awards honored Dow with the Former Child Star Lifetime Achievemen­t Award for his performanc­e as Wally.

The actor also dabbled in visual effects work, receiving credits for “Babylon 5” and “Doctor Who: The Movie,” according to IMDb. He was a painter and sculptor too, with work once displayed in the Louvre in Paris.

He is survived by his son Christophe­r, wife Lauren, daughter-in-law Melissa, granddaugh­ter Tyla, and a brother-in-law and sisterin-law.

 ?? FREDERICK M. BROWN/GETTY 2009 ?? Tony Dow died Wednesday at 77, one day after his death was prematurel­y announced.
FREDERICK M. BROWN/GETTY 2009 Tony Dow died Wednesday at 77, one day after his death was prematurel­y announced.

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