Happy Birthday Tony Dow: Relive the Actor’s Best Moments as ‘Wally’ on ‘Leave It to Beaver’

by Clayton Edwards
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Leave It to Beaver is timeless. No matter what era you’re living in, you can relate to the Cleaver family. At the same time, the series is great for the whole family. If you’re looking for a nice, warm, slice of nostalgia, look no further. One of the biggest parts of that show was the relationship between Wally and Beaver as played by Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers, respectively. They were loving brothers. Even when hijinks got in the way, their bond never weakened. The two actors bounced off of one another like seasoned professionals.

Today, Tony Dow turns 76 years old. So, to celebrate, we’re going to look back at some of his best moments on Leave It to Beaver.

However, before we dig into Wally’s best Leave It to Beaver moments, it’s important to mention that it was Tony Dow’s first acting role, according to his IMDb. Before landing the role, Dow was an accomplished athlete. He was a Junior Olympic diving champion. But it seems that the talent was hereditary. He was the son of an actor and a stuntwoman. So, performing was literally in his blood. He expertly played his role on the classic show for its entire six-year run. He then went on to have a successful acting career including appearances on several TV shows like Charles in Charge, Knight Rider, and, Lassie.

Tony Dow’s Wally Was a Trendsetter

In the season two episode “Wally’s Haircomb,” Tony Dow’s character tries out a new hairstyle. His parents know that he’s following a fad. They also don’t like the way it looks. However, Ward decides to let him continue wearing his hair the way he wants even if they think it looks ridiculous. Before long, his pals and even Beaver are falling in line. Wally Cleaver was quite the trendsetter.

The Realness of Wally Cleaver

Some might think that Leave It to Beaver is a saccharine-sweet slice of nostalgic escapism. While that might be partially true, there is some realness mixed in as well. Tony Dow plays Wally like a real teenage boy from the era.

For instance in the season five episode, “Wally’s Big Date,” we see the eldest Cleaver boy dealing with some serious insecurities. In that episode, Wally gets tricked into taking a tall girl to a school dance. He thinks she’s pretty but the fact that she has about four inches on him is an issue. Wally is afraid that the other guys will make fun of him for being shorter than his date. In the end, he goes with her and has a great time. However, that comes after days of agonizing over the big night. Tony Dow really gives Wally a new dimension in the episode and brings out the confident teen’s insecurities.

Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers Working Together

Watching Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers work off of one another is one of the best parts of Leave It to Beaver. In the season three episode, “Beaver’s Tree,” we get a great look at that.

Beaver gets inspired to go back to their old house and steal one of the trees that Ward planted for him before their move. The boys have to work together to dig up the tree and haul it back home. It’s an unusual premise that makes for some great comedy. At the same time, it shows the Cleaver brothers working together for a common, if incredibly odd, goal.

Today, Tony Dow is a grandfather and an accomplished sculptor. He lives with his wife, Lauren in the Santa Monica Mountains in California.

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