‘Leave It To Beaver’ Star Tony Dow Tagged Along With His Dad’s Friend Who Auditioned for Another Role

by Megan Molseed

The classic TV sitcom series Leave It To Beaver left a major mark on the entire family sitcom genre. As well as on the entire TV culture as a whole. However, while the hit situational comedy TV series is named for the young boy we know as Beaver – or “the Beav” – Cleaver, it was certainly about so much more.

Playing the big brother Wally Cleaver to Jerry Mathers’ Beaver is the late Tony Dow. Wally is the oldest son of June and Ward Cleaver. He’s also one of TV’s first heartthrobs. Becoming a nearly overnight sensation as he portrayed the popular character from 1957 until 1963. However, Dow very nearly missed this opportunity, as he initially had no intention of trying out for the iconic role.

Tony Dow Was Just Tagging Along On An Audition When He Landed The Role Of Wally Cleaver

When Dow stepped into the Leave It To Beaver auditions decades ago, he had no intention of trying out for his now iconic role. In fact, Tony Dow was simply tagging along one this audition with a family friend, an actor friend of his parents, who was vying for the role of Ward Cleaver.

Dow’s attendance at the audition was intended to help this unnamed family friend, as he helped with the script reading. After all, it’s the father-son moments that the series is all about, right? However, one outlet reported in 1959 (per MeTV) that this audition ended very differently than initially intended. With the late Tony Dow almost immediately securing the now iconic big-brother role.

“The actor didn’t come close to getting the role of Ward Cleaver,” notes the article of the family friend who brought Dow to the audition. However, this historic try-out moment did end up finalizing the Leave It To Beaver producers’ “search for Beaver’s older brother,” the article notes. In all, Dow beat around 270 other actors who had already tried out for the role.

Catch Some Of Dow’s Best Episodes During Sunday’s Leave It To Beaver Marathon

This weekend, MeTV, the channel that dedicates itself to all things associated with classic TV, is honoring the late Tony Dow with a Sunday Leave It To Beaver marathon this weekend. This special event features some of our favorite episodes of the iconic family sitcom highlighting Dow’s Wally Cleaver.

“MeTV Remembers Tony Dow this Sunday, July 31st,” notes a recent MeTV Insta post, highlighting the upcoming marathon event. Each one of the selected episodes in the Sunday marathon has been chosen because of how it highlights the “memorable” big brother’s most legendary moments. The event will air on MeTV, starting at noon/11 a.m. CST on Sunday, July 31.