‘Leave It to Beaver’ Star Tony Dow Dies at 77 After Premature Announcement

LEAVE IT TO BEAVER's Tony Dow
Gene Trindl/Courtesy of Everett Collection

Leave It to Beaver star Tony Dow has died at the age of 77. Following a premature death announcement on Tuesday, July 26, Dow’s manager confirmed in a statement on Wednesday, July 27 that Dow died in hospice care earlier that morning. Best known for playing Wally Cleaver in the classic sitcom, Dow’s son, Christopher, confirmed the news of his death to the actor’s management on July 27.

“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,” a statement shared on Dow’s official Facebook page reads. “We know that the world is collectively saddened by the loss of this incredible man. He gave so much to us all and was loved by so many. One fan said it best— ‘It is rare when there is a person who is so universally loved like Tony.'”

The statement continued: “Our heart goes out to Tony’s wife, Lauren, who will miss her soulmate of 42 years…To his son, Christopher, who will dearly miss his father, who was also his best friend…to his daughter-in-law, Melissa, who loved him like her own father…To his Granddaughter, Tyla, who will undoubtedly carry on her Grandfather’s kind soul, To his Brother Dion and Sister-in-Law, Judy, and to all of his extended family and friends. Words cannot express how much we will all feel his absence, but will cherish the memories he left to each and every one of us.

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Christopher has stated: 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.’ We respectfully ask that everyone give the family privacy in their time of mourning.”

On July 26, Dow’s wife, Lauren Dow, mistakenly told her husband’s management that he had passed away.

“Tony’s wife Lauren, who was very distraught, had notified us that Tony had passed and asked that we notify all his fans,” according to a statement on his Facebook page. “As we are sure you can understand, this has been a very trying time for her. We have since 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.”

Dow was born on April 13, 1945, in Los Angeles, California. Wally Cleaver was his breakout role in the industry, starring in the series from 1957 to 1963.

He later starred in Never Too Young, Lassie, The New Leave It to Beaver, The Love Boat, Diagnosis Murder, Knight Rider, and more.