Tony Dow, ‘Leave it to Beaver’s’ Wally Cleaver, Battling Cancer

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Tony Dow (r) with his TV brother, Jerry Mathers, in Leave it to Beaver

Tony Dow, best known for his portrayal of the older brother on the TV sitcom Leave it to Beaver, has been diagnosed with cancer. The news was shared with his wife, Lauren, on May 5, 2022. Her post on Dow’s Facebook page noted that her husband “is approaching this reality so bravely, but it is truly heartbreaking.” The brief post did not identify the specific form of cancer. Dow turned 77 on April 13.

Dow played Wally Cleaver, the older brother to Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver, portrayed by Jerry Mathers, on the family sitcom. Their TV parents, Ward and June Cleaver, were played by Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsley.

Dow was born April 13, 1945. Mathers was born June 2, 1948. Both Billingsley and Beaumont have passed. Ken Osmond, who played Wally’s wise-cracking pal, Eddie Haskell, died in 2020 at age 76.

Lauren Dow’s brief post noted: I have some very sad news to share with you. Unfortunately, Tony has once again been diagnosed with cancer. He is approaching this reality so bravely, but it is truly heartbreaking.

We want to thank you in advance for your caring thoughts.

Our Love,
Lauren & Tony

The couple married in 1980.

Mathers posted on note to his Facebook page: “I was so saddened to hear about my lifelong friend, Tony Dow’s, cancer diagnosis. Tony has always been and will continue to be the pillar of strength that I have always known him to be. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.”

Leave it to Beaver ran from 1957-1963, initially on CBS. The network dropped the program after one season due to poor ratings. ABC then picked it up, though it was never a Top 30 series in any given season. Remarkably, there are 234 episodes; 39 were made each year. The series lives on in re-runs, airing on MeTV.

After the series ended in 1963, Dow starred daily in Never Too Young for a year, then became a member of the General Hospital cast and made guest appearances on a variety of television shows. In the 80s, he began a career in TV directing and producing that continued for twenty years.

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  1. phil
    #1 phil 6 May, 2022, 17:17

    I watch ‘Leave It to Beaver’ every morning, sponsored by old-age ads ..

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  2. Dino Saur
    #2 Dino Saur 8 May, 2022, 09:07

    I have always said to friends and colleagues:

    “Everything you need to know about how to conduct your life could be learned from the lessons embedded in the “Leave It To Beaver” episodes, regardless of where, who, how , or when you started out in life.”

    Bless you Tony, for being a big brother to the rest of us Beavers.

    Reply this comment
  3. Rene Arellano
    #3 Rene Arellano 10 May, 2022, 03:22

    Leave it to Beaver, was and still would be a very Educational program. It shows us what life would be like, if we put our heart and soul, into what the show was a Labour. We wouldn’t have the problems we have now.

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