Tony Dow, best known for playing Wally Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver, died Wednesday, a day after it was incorrectly announced he had passed away. He was 77.
A statement on his official Facebook page says, “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. We know that the world is collectively saddened by the loss of this incredible man.”
His son Christopher also wrote, “Although this is a very sad day, I have comfort and peace that he is in a better place. He was the best Dad anyone could ask for. He was my coach, my mentor, my voice of reason, my best friend, my best man in my wedding, and my hero. My wife said something powerful and shows the kind of man he was. She said: ‘Tony was such a kind man. He had such a huge heart and I’ve never heard Tony say a bad or negative thing about anyone.’”
No cause of death was given, but according to CNN, Dow was diagnosed with cancer in May.
Dow portrayed older brother Wally Cleaver on the beloved sitcom, which ran from 1957 to 1963.
In January 2022, the actor spoke to Sunday Morning about how the role affected him. “There went my life,” he recalled. “It’s sad to be famous at 12 years old or something, and then you grow up and become a real person, and nothing’s happened for you.”
Dow’s ‘Leave It to Beaver‘ co-star, Jerry Mathers, shared a message to his former TV sibling saying, “It is with the utmost sadness that I learned from Christopher, Tony’s son, that Tony passed away earlier this morning with his loving family by his side.”
“Tony was not only my brother on TV, but in many ways in life as well. He leaves an empty place in my heart that won’t be filled. Tony was always the kindest, most generous, gentle, loving, sincere, and humble man, and it was my honor and privilege to be able to share memories together with him for 65 years,” he shared.
“Tony was so grateful for all of the kindness and support from our fans around the world and he so much appreciated all the love. My wife Teresa and I send our deepest condolences to his wife Lauren, his family and to all of those who knew and loved him so very much,” he concluded