Tony Dow, best known for his role as big brother Wally in the classic TV sitcom “Leave It to Beaver”, has passed away. He was 77.
“We have received confirmation from Christopher, Tony’s son, that Tony passed away earlier this morning, with his loving family by his side to guide him through this journey,” Dow’s Facebook account read Wednesday afternoon.
“We know the world is collectively saddened by the loss of this incredible man. He gave us all so much and was loved by so many. One fan said it best: “It’s rare that there is a person as universally loved as Tony,” the statement added.
His son Christopher called it “a very sad day” in the announcement.
“Although this is a very sad day, I have comfort and peace that he is in a better place. He was the best father anyone could wish for. He was my coach, my mentor, my voice of reason, my best friend, my best man at my wedding and my hero,” he said in the heartfelt tribute. “My wife said something powerful and shows what kind of man he was. She said, ‘Tony was such a nice man. a big heart and I’ve never heard Tony say anything bad or negative about anyone.’”
Dow’s death was prematurely announced Tuesday after his wife, Lauren Shulkind, accidentally notified the actor’s management team.
Dow’s manager said Shulkind, 75, was “extremely distraught” about her husband’s condition and believed he had been pronounced dead.
On Tuesday night, the actor’s son, Christopher Dow, shared an update on Facebook, saying his father was in hospice and having “his last hours.”
The post came hours after the actor’s management team prematurely announced his death.
In a now-deleted post, the statement – from Frank Bilotta and Renee James – read: “It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share with you the passing of our beloved Tony this morning.
“Tony was a beautiful soul – kind, compassionate, funny and humble. It was a real pleasure just to be around him. His soft voice and unpretentious manner were instantly comforting and you couldn’t help but love him The world has lost a great person, but we are all richer because of the memories he left us.”
Dow and Shuklind announced in May that the “Still the Beaver” star had been diagnosed with cancer, but what type it was.
“Dear friends and fans of Tony Dow, I have very sad news to share with you,” Shulkind wrote at the time. “Unfortunately, Tony has been diagnosed with cancer again. He approaches this reality so bravely, but it is truly heartbreaking.
“We would like to thank you in advance for your caring thoughts. Our love, Lauren & Tony.”
The Hollywood resident’s health problems first came to light in August 2021, when he was briefly hospitalized with pneumonia and suffered a “violent cough.”
“Tony’s spirit is positive,” Shulkind wrote on Facebook last year. “He gets his daily exercise by walking the halls with his nurse. If only he could get rid of that damn cough. It’s going to take a while.”
“For the most part, the members of his medical ‘team’ are compassionate and we appreciate their efforts,” she added. “We also appreciate all of you for your thoughts and concerns. Hopefully Tony will be home soon. Poppy can’t wait to get her dad back.”
Mathers had previously been in touch with Dow and his management team and had regularly informed fans about Dow’s condition via social media.
Dow starred as Wally, the older brother of Beaver (Mathers), in “Leave It to Beaver” for six seasons from 1957 to 1963.
He later reprized his role in the sitcom sequel, “The New Leave It to Beaver,” in 1983. The show aired for four seasons until 1989.
Dow guest-starred on shows like “My Three Sons,” “Dr. Kildare,” “Lassie” and “The Greatest Show on Earth,” before taking on recurring roles on “Mr. Nova.”
He also got behind the camera, directing episodes of TV shows like “Coach,” “Babylon 5” and “Harry and the Hendersons.”
In 1965, he took a break from acting to serve with the National Guard for three years. He even tried to write and entered journalism school in the 1970s.
Dow spoke to CBS This Morning earlier this year about his iconic role in ‘Leave It to Beaver’ and how he couldn’t be independent as a child star.
“From the age of 11 or 12, I was told what to do. I was told on set. I was told at home. I had no control over my life,” he said.
While Wally’s role defined it, he didn’t want to be in the public eye and the fame that came with it. “I’d have to live with it for the rest of my life,” Dow noted. “It’s sad to be famous at age 12 or something, and then you grow up and become a real person, and nothing happens for you.”
In the 1980s, he took on roles in the projects “Knight Rider”, “Square Pegs” and “Murder, She Wrote”.
In the 1990s, the filmmaker took some time behind the camera. He did some directing work for episodes of series like ‘Babylon 5’ and ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’.