‘Leave It to Beaver’ star Tony Dow reportedly not dead, despite earlier statement from reps
Correction: An earlier version of this article had reported on Tony Dow’s passing after the actor’s management team prematurely released a statement on his death.
(NEXSTAR) – Tony Dow, who starred as Wally Cleaver on “Leave It to Beaver,” was reportedly alive and under hospice care when his management team released a statement on his death Tuesday morning, according to his wife Lauren Dow and son Christopher Dow.
The statement, attributed to managers and friends Frank Bilotta and Renee James, has since been removed from Dow’s official Facebook page and replaced with this update from Christopher Dow:
This is a difficult time. Dad is at home, under hospice care, and in his last hours. My wife and I are by his side along with many friends that have visited. He has a fighting heart.
Another statement published Tuesday afternoon to Dow’s Facebook page, presumably from Bilotta and James, said that a “very distraught” Lauren Dow notified them that Tony had passed “and asked that we notify all his fans.”
“As we are sure you can understand, this has been a very trying time for her,” the statement continued. “We have received a call from Tony’s daughter-in-law saying that while Tony is not doing well, he has not yet passed. Tony’s son Christopher and his daughter-in-law Melissa have also been by his side comforting him, and we will keep you posted on any future updates.”
Nexstar reached out to Dow’s representatives for more information about what led to the apparent confusion, but didn’t receive a response before publishing time.
The statement posted by Bilotta and James earlier on Tuesday 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 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.”
One of Dow’s managers told TMZ that Dow’s death was prematurely announced because Dow’s wife, believing he was gone, instructed his managers to release the statement.
Jerry Mathers, Dow’s former co-star on “Leave It to Beaver,” was one of many friends and fellow actors to react to the news of Dow’s passing on social media.
“He was always the kindest, most generous, gentle, loving, sincere, and humble man, that it was my honor and privilege to be able to share memories together with for 65 years,” Mathers had written.
Dow, 77, is perhaps best known for playing Wally Cleaver, brother to Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver, on “Leave It to Beaver” between 1957 and 1963. Dow appeared in all 234 episodes, as well as the 1983 TV reunion film “Still the Beaver” and the sequel series “The New Leave It to Beaver,” which ran for four seasons in the mid-‘80s. He also made appearances in popular shows including “My Three Sons,” “Lassie” and “Adam-12.”
In addition to acting, Dow has directed television episodes of “The New Leave It to Beaver,” “Harry and the Hendersons,” “Coach” and “Babylon 5,” as well as nearly a dozen other series, according to IMDb.
He also became a sculptor in later years, with one of his pieces being temporarily displayed as part of an exhibition at the Louvre, the L.A. Times reported in 2008.
Erroneous reports of Dow’s death on Tuesday morning follow news of Dow’s health scares in recent years, including his hospitalization for pneumonia in August 2021. At the time, his agent told The Hollywood Reporter he was “in good spirits” despite the diagnosis.
Months later in May, Dow’s wife had also revealed Dow was “once again” diagnosed with cancer, suggesting he had battled the disease previously.