‘Leave It To Beaver’ Star Tony Dow Recalled Being Discovered at Age 11

by Taylor Cunningham
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(Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

When classic TV actor Tony Dow was discovered at only 11 years old, it was a never aired revolutionary series that he was set to star in, but that didn’t work out. So, he went with plan B, Leave it to Beaver.

As Dow told Fox News, he unwittingly walked into stardom simply by being in the right place at the right time.

As a kid, Dow was a “pretty good” swimmer and diver. And by nine, he was a “junior diving champion and held a national record.”

And because he was born and raised in Hollywood, he trained out of an athletic club that was swarming with hopeful actors. One of those actors happened to be a lifeguard he had come to know through his countless hours of practice.

One day, the lifeguard asked Dow’s mom if he could borrow her son for an audition, and she allowed it.

“I’m going to this interview for a show where they’re looking for a father and son,” Dow remembers his saying. “Can Tony go with me because we kind of look alike?”

Excited to meet real-life Hollywood producers, Dow put on his best “blue suit” and followed the lifeguard to the casting call one day. But things turned out much different than he expected that day.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” the actor admitted. ” But everything was new and interesting. And I was with him so I felt at ease.”

Instead of his friend getting cast in the project, it was 11-year-old Tony Dow who ended up getting a role.

“So that was unfortunate,” he admitted.

The Newly Discovered Tony Dow Originally Landed a Role in ‘Johnny Wildlife’

But it wasn’t the iconic part of Wally Cleaver that Dow ended up scoring first. Instead, he was asked to join a series called Johnny Wildlife.

As the now 77-year-old remembers, the show was “about a wildlife photographer and his son.” And it would have been the first-ever color series on television.

“It was way ahead of its time,” Dow added.

The budding actor went as far as filming the pilot episode. The story showed the dad and son duo dealing with Japanese fishermen over hunting whales. And they also confronted a company that was dumping toxic waste into the ocean.

However, the whole project ended up being scrapped because the stock footage the directors needed “couldn’t be duplicated.”

At that point, Tony Dow expected to head back to the pool. But the network execs still had their hearts set on the young star.

“There was another show called Wally and The Beaver,” he continued. “That made the cut. It was later renamed to Leave It to Beaver.”

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