UPDATE 4:40 PM ET: Tony Dow is reportedly still alive, per TMZ. The post from Dow’s Facebook page breaking the news this morning has now been removed. Dow’s manager reported that the actor’s wife, Lauren, “believed her husband was dead.” TMZ adds that Dow remains in hospice care.
Tony Dow’s time in the spotlight began way back in 1957, when he earned the role of Beaver Cleaver’s older brother, Wally, on the classic TV series Leave It to Beaver. With his charm, athleticism, and All-American good looks, Tony Dow’s Wally Cleaver became an instant hit with fans. In the series’ later years, in fact, he became a full-blown teen heartthrob for its younger fans.
Throughout the ensuing 65 years, the Leave It to Beaver star appeared in dozens of TV series, making countless friends along the way. As those closest to him shared, “It was truly a joy to just be around him. His gentle voice and unpretentious manner [were] immediately comforting and you could not help but love him.”
So when news of his tragic passing reached his friends and fans, the outpouring of love and admiration was immense. Among those heartbroken by the loss was WWE legend Jerry “The King” Lawler, a longtime friend and fan of Tony Dow’s.
“Man, so sad to hear that a life-long TV favorite of mine, Tony Dow, Wally from Leave It to Beaver just passed away. R.I.P. Wally,” Lawler wrote alongside a picture of himself and Dow at what appears to be a 60th Anniversary celebration for the beloved series.
Man, so sad to hear that a life-long TV favorite of mine, Tony Dow, Wally from “Leave It To Beaver” just passed away. R.I.P. Wally pic.twitter.com/jVTztZTTMa— Jerry Lawler (@JerryLawler) July 26, 2022
‘Leave It to Beaver’ Star Jerry Mathers Posts Touching Tribute to the Late Tony Dow
For six years, Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow played the Cleaver brothers on Leave It to Beaver. And for nine-year-old Jerry Mathers, the adoration for his on-screen brother stretched far beyond the realm of fiction.
As the Leave It to Beaver star has shared many times in the past, Tony Dow was his childhood hero. The fictional brothers were so fond of each other that they remained friends for decades. As such, the news of Dow’s passing was nothing short of earth-shattering for Jerry Mathers.
Earlier today, the Leave it to Beaver star penned a heartbreaking tribute to his close friend on Facebook. “It is with the utmost sadness I learned this morning of my co-star and lifelong friend Tony Dow’s passing,” Mathers wrote. “He was not only my brother on TV but in many ways in life as well. Tony leaves an empty place in my heart that won’t be filled.”
“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.”
“Tony was so grateful for all of the love and support from our fans across the world,” Mathers continued. “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. The world may have lost a star today, but the heavens gained another.”