Just two months after announcing a terminal cancer diagnosis, TV's Tony Dow has died at 77.
In a since-deleted post on his Facebook page, Dow's death was confirmed:
“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 truly a joy to just be around him. His gentle voice and unpretentious manner was immediately comforting and you could not help but love him. The world has lost an amazing human being, but we are all richer for the memories that he has left us. From the warm reminiscences of Wally Cleaver to those of us fortunate enough to know him personally — thank you Tony. And thank you for the reflections of a simpler time, the laughter, the friendship and for the feeling that you were a big brother to us all. We will miss you.”
Dow was lovable Wally on Leave It to Beaver from 1957-1963. He was Wally again in The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977), and did a total revisit of the character in the TV movie Still the Beaver (1983).
That hatched The New Leave It to Beaver, on which he acted for 100+ episodes (people forget how popular it was) from 1983-1989.
He also played Wally on the 1987 Love Boat finale episode.
The only living star from Leave It to Beaver is now 74-year-old Jerry Mathers.
Wally aside, Dow was a regular on the teen soap Never Too Young (1965-1966) and also acted on series like Dr. Kildare (1963), My Three Sons (1964), Mr. Novak (1963-1965), Adam-12 (1970), Mod Squad (1971), Emergency! (1972), Square Pegs (1982), and Murder, She Wrote (1987).
His My Three Sons co-star Stanley Livingston remembered Tony on Facebook, writing:
"I’ve known TONY DOW for most of my life. I met him when I was 6 years old. We were both swimmers and divers in those days and we shared the same diving coach, Award Winning Olympic Diver, Johnny Riley. A few years later, we both entered the world of Show Business. Tony became 'Wally Cleaver' in LEAVE IT TO BEAVER'. I became 'Chip Douglas' on MY THREE SONS. Throughout our long careers our paths would cross many times... both professionally and personally. Tony was a great friend, an incredible artist, a talented actor and director. I’ll miss going to the house that he and Lauren built by hand. It’s hard to say goodbye when you’ve known someone that long. Tony is in a much better world now... he will be missed in this one. Love you Tony!"
In Dow's later years, he directed for TV and became a successful sculptor, one who specialized in bronze works.
Having suffered from depression, he spoke out about the illness in a series of self-help videos.
Dow is survived by Lauren, his wife of more than 40 years.