‘Leave It To Beaver’ Star Tony Dow Is ‘In His Last Hours’ In Hospice Care [UPDATE]
Actor Tony Dow, who played Wally Cleaver on the long-running sitcom “Leave It To Beaver,” is in hospice care, his family members have told multiple news outlets.
Dow’s death was erroneously announced on his Facebook page Tuesday, in a post that has since been deleted. Later in the day, Dow’s wife and his manager both told TMZ that the 77-year-old was still alive and in hospice care. Dow’s son made similar comments to Fox News Tuesday, saying his father was “still alive but in his last hours.”
Lauren Shulkind, Dow’s wife, shared in May that his cancer had returned after a previous occurrence, according to Variety.
Born in Hollywood, Dow had a show business connection from the beginning: His mother was a stunt performer in the early days of the film industry.
However, Dow was more interested in swimming growing up and was a Junior Olympics diving champion, per Variety.
He got his big break in 1957 when he tagged along with a friend to an audition and ended up being cast as Wally, the older brother of Beaver Cleaver, played by Jerry Mathers.
The show ran from 1957 to 1963 and still airs in syndication.
After the show ended, Dow continued to act, but also served in the National Guard between 1965 and 1968, according to TMZ.
The Washington Post notes that Dow’s career stalled after his stint in the Guard. He couldn’t make acting commitments, since he never knew when he’d be ordered to report for active duty.
However, he joked that he was cast on the popular cop show “Adam-12” because he “was the only actor in town at that time with short hair.”
In the late ’70s, Dow reunited with Mathers to tour dinner theaters in the play “So Long Stanley.”
In the early ’80s, most of the “Beaver” cast reunited for the television movie “Still the Beaver,” which later inspired a “Leave It To Beaver” reboot that ran on TBS from 1986 to 1989.
Dow directed five episodes and wrote one for the show, and later branched out into directing other series, including “Harry and the Hendersons,” “Coach,” “Babylon 5,” “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” according to Variety.
Beginning in his 20s, Dow battled clinical depression, and gave speeches telling people that “if Wally Cleaver can be depressed, anybody can be.”
He also had a side career as a sculptor. His works appeared in galleries and international exhibitions.
Hilary Hanson contributed to this report.
This story has been updated to reflect that initial reports of Dow’s death were incorrect.