Tony Dow, Big Brother Wally on ‘Leave It to Beaver,’ Dies at 77

Tony Dow, who shot to stardom at age 12 as Wally Cleaver, the barely-teen-year-old brother in the hit 1950s and ’60s comedy series “Leave It to Beaver,” passed away on Thursday. Private home in Topanga, California. He is 77 years old.

His death was confirmed by his manager, Frank Bilotta. On Tuesday, his representative erroneously announced his death in a Facebook post; It was later deleted, but it wasn’t long before many news organizations, including The New York Times, published obituaries, relying on that post as confirmation of the death. In May, Mr. Dow said he had been diagnosed with liver cancer.

He went through a varied adult career, finding mixed success as an actor, a director, a producer and then a sculptor, but he never could completely shake up his relationship with “Leave It to Beaver,” an early hit that may have contributed to his later struggles with depression.

The sitcom’s central character is the cute, trouble-prone Beaver Cleaver, played by Jerry Mathers, but whenever Beaver needs advice from an older and wiser person who isn’t capable of shouting scolding him, he turned to Wally, his only brother and most trusted confidant. They share a bedroom – and a private bathroom – in a well-kept two-story home in Mayfield, a fictional, walkable, crime-free and seemingly all-American suburb. white.

Wally was a good student, polite to his elders, and a responsible good guy who was “obedient and honest,” as Brian Levant, executive producer of the 1980s sequel series “The New,” Leave It to Beaver,” described him to The Arizona Republic in 2017. Wally plays Chinese chess with his brother in their room, sometimes accompanied by his friend Eddie Haskell’s misguided pranks and more than enough. children in the first season to ask, “Dad, if I save my pocket money, can I buy a monkey? “

And he would never “cry” Beav, unless he had to.

As the seasons pass, Wally matures, attracting the attention of teenage female audiences, but his attitude towards his brother remains unchanged. “What did you go and do it for?” he will ask. And, “Will you stop being nice to me and come back with a little shiver?”

But when talking to his parents, Wally was more contemplative. As he observes at the end of an episode, “For such a small child, there is definitely a lot going on in his head.”

Anthony Lee Dow was born in Hollywood on April 13, 1945, the son of John Stevens Dow, a designer and contractor, and Muriel Virginia (Montrose) Reduce. His mother is a Western stuntwoman and has starred in films for silent screen star Clara Bow.

Tony is an active boy who has won swimming and diving competitions. In fact, it was a coach who asked Tony to go with him to an acting audition, his first. He had almost no acting experience when he was cast as Wally Cleaver in “Leave It to Beaver”.

“I’ve always been a little rebellious,” he was quoted as saying by The Outsider in 2021, and success has come too easily. His face soon appeared on the covers of magazines aimed at teen readers. After six years, as the fictional Wally prepared to go to college, Mr. Dow was ready to move on to something new.

He has appeared as a guest star on series like “Dr. Kildare” (1963), “My Three Sons” (1964), “Lassie” (1968), “The Mod Squad” (1971), “Love, American Style” (1971) and “Emergency” (1972). He was a regular in “Never Too Young” (1965-66), a movie geared towards teen audiences. But he soon realizes that he’s been hopelessly typing into his “Leave it to the Beaver” character.

In his 20s, he began to suffer from clinical depression, which he describes as a “feeling of worthlessness, hopelessness”. Helped by psychotherapy and medication, he became a spokesman for the National Depression and Mania Association.

Mr. Dow told the Chicago Tribune in 1993: “I realize there’s a perceived irony to this, acknowledging that his name and face is associated with one of the longest-running series in history. broadcast history. But popularity is part of the problem.

“If you stay anonymous, you can sit in the corner and poop and nobody cares,” he said. “But if you’re a celebrity, pouting is going to be very uncomfortable.”

Twenty years after “Leave It to Beaver” aired, it’s back – in the form of a CBS television series, “Still the Beaver” (1983). It reunited the cast, with the exception of Mr. Beaumont, who was died in 1982 aged 72. Wally was a lawyer at the time, who was married to a high school sweetheart. Beaver has been going through a messy divorce.

The series became a Disney Channel series for one season and returned on TBS as “The New Leave It to Beaver” from 1986 to 1989. The series offered cabinet monsters; take risks with borrowed cars, bicycles, comic books, football tickets and dates; and a seemingly ceaseless source of flashbacks (clips from the original series).

In the ’90s, Mr. Dow turned to directing, being hired for episodes of shows like “Coach,” “Harry and the Hendersons,” “Babylon 5” and, of course, “The New Leave It to Beaver.” his own. He directed a television series, Child Stars: Their Story (2000), and produced two other films, “The Adventures of Captain Zoom From Outer Space” (1995) and ” It Came From Outer Space II” (1996).

Later, when he appeared on camera in movies or television, it was often a healthy dose of pleasurable self-awareness. In David Spade’s comedy “Dickie Roberts, Former Child Star,” Mr. Dow sang in the front row of a fun club of former child stars. His last on-screen role was in a 2016 episode of the anthology series “Suspense.”

At the same time, he also has a business contract and does visual effects for movies. But he found his passion when, in his 50s, he started working sculpture, work mainly with wood and copper. In 2008, his sculpture “Unarmed Warrior” was exhibited in Paris at the Salon de la Societé Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Carrousel du Louvre.

He stayed with his first wife, Carol Marlow, from 1969 until their divorce in 1980. He married Lauren Shulkind, a ceramicist, in 1980. Information about his survivors is not available. provided immediately.

In the end, Mr. Dow said he was no longer worried about his initial successful outcome. “I felt that way probably from when I was 20 years old until I was maybe 40 years old,” he said in a 2022 interview on “CBS Sunday Morning. “At the age of 40, I realized how great the show was.”

Danielle Cruz contributed reporting.

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