Tony Dow

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tony Dow
Dow in 1961
Anthony Lee Dow

(1945-04-13)April 13, 1945
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedJuly 27, 2022(2022-07-27) (aged 77)
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
  • sculptor
Years active1949–2022
Carol Marlow
(m. 1969; div. 1980)
Lauren Shulkind
(m. 1980)

Anthony Lee Dow (April 13, 1945 – July 27, 2022) was an American actor, film producer, director and sculptor. He portrayed Wally Cleaver in the iconic television sitcom Leave It to Beaver from 1957 to 1963. From 1983 to 1989, Dow reprised his role as Wally in a television movie and in The New Leave It to Beaver.

Early life[edit]

Dow was born in the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, the son of Muriel Virginia (Montrose), a stuntwoman in westerns, and John Stevens Dow, a designer and contractor.[3] In his youth, he trained as a swimmer and was a Junior Olympics diving champion.[4]

Screen career[edit]

Dow (top) with his Leave It to Beaver co-stars (L–R): Hugh Beaumont, Barbara Billingsley and Jerry Mathers, circa 1959

With a little stage acting and two television pilots as his only acting experience, Dow's career began when he went on an open casting call and landed the role of Wally Cleaver in Leave It to Beaver.[5][4][6] With the exception of the television pilot, for the show's entire run, from 1957 to 1963, he played the older son of June (played by Barbara Billingsley) and Ward (played by Hugh Beaumont) Cleaver, and the older brother of protagonist Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver (played by Jerry Mathers). As played by Dow, Wally was the "all-American" boy—an intelligent, polite teenager, trusted by his parents, popular with his peers, and liked by his teachers. (Wally was based on the series writer Joe Connelly's son, Jay.)[7] In the show's later years, Dow grew into an attractive, athletic young man and was often featured in "heartthrob"-type magazines aimed principally at teen girls. Producers took advantage of Dow's popularity and scripted episodes delving into Wally's dating life, his after-school jobs, his friends, and his car.[8]

After Leave it to Beaver, Dow appeared on other television shows, including My Three Sons, Dr. Kildare, The Greatest Show on Earth, Never Too Young, and on five episodes of Mr. Novak in three different roles. He guest-starred on the television series Adam-12, Love, American Style, Knight Rider, Square Pegs, The Mod Squad, The Hardy Boys and Emergency!.

Dow took a break from his acting career to serve in the California Army National Guard from 1965 to 1968 during the Vietnam War, where he was assigned to the Special Services division and served in Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th Armored Division, as a photographer.[9][10]

During the 1970s, Dow continued acting while working in the construction industry, and studying journalism and filmmaking.[6] In 1977, he parodied his role as Wally from Leave it to Beaver in The Kentucky Fried Movie, with Jerry Zucker playing Beaver.[11]

From 1983 to 1989, Dow reprised his role as Wally Cleaver in a reunion television movie and a subsequent sequel series, The New Leave It to Beaver, for which Dow wrote an episode in 1986.[12] In 1987, he was honored by the Young Artist Foundation with its Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award for his role as Wally Cleaver.[13]

In 1989, Dow made his debut as a director with an episode of The New Lassie. It was followed by episodes of Get a Life, Harry and the Hendersons, Coach, Babylon 5, Crusade and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Dow served as the visual effects supervisor for Babylon 5. In 1996, he provided visual effects for the FOX television movie Doctor Who.[14][12]

Dow also co-produced The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space in 1995, and It Came from Outer Space II in 1996.

Stage career[edit]

In 1978, Dow and Jerry Mathers starred in a production of the comedy play Boeing, Boeing, which ran for 10 weeks in Kansas City, Missouri. Dow and Mathers then toured the dinner theater circuit in a production of So Long, Stanley, written specifically for the TV brother duo, for 18 months.[15]

Art career[edit]

In addition to acting, directing, producing, and writing, Dow was a sculptor, creating abstract bronze sculptures. He said about his work: "The figures are abstract and not meant to represent reality, but rather the truth of the interactions as I see and feel them. I find the wood in the hills of Topanga Canyon and each piece evolves from my subconscious. I produce limited editions of nine bronzes using the lost wax process from molds of the original burl sculpture."[16] Reuters wrote of Dow's work that it "features humanlike forms devoid of expression or detail; they are widely open to the viewer's interpretation."[17]

In December 2008, Dow was chosen as one of three sculptors to show at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibition, located in the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, France. He represented the United States delegation, which was composed of artists from the Karen Lynne Gallery. His sculpture shown at the Parisian shopping mall was titled Unarmed Warrior, a bronze figure of a woman holding a shield.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Dow married Carol Marlow in June 1969 and their marriage ended in 1980.[3] They had one child, who was born in 1973. In June 1980, Dow married Lauren Shulkind.[4]

In the 1990s, Dow revealed that he had suffered from clinical depression. He subsequently starred in self-help videos chronicling this battle, including the 1998 Beating the Blues.[19] Dow was also hospitalized with pneumonia in 2021.[20][21][22]


In May 2022, Dow was diagnosed with liver cancer.[23] He died on July 27, 2022, a day after his death was widely misreported.[24][25][26]

Selected filmography[edit]


Visual effects[edit]



  • The New Leave It to Beaver (one episode, 1986)[14]



  1. ^ "Glimpse into Tony Dow's Life after 'Leave It to Beaver' and His Almost 40-Year Marriage". January 8, 2020. Archived from the original on November 9, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  2. ^ "'Leave It to Beaver' star Tony Dow 'doing well' after pneumonia hospitalization". USA Today. Archived from the original on November 9, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Gates, Anita (July 26, 2022). "Tony Dow, Big Brother Wally on 'Leave It to Beaver,' Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c "Tony Dow (Wally Cleaver): The Beaver's older brother is a man of many talents". Archived from the original on June 12, 2017. Retrieved September 20, 2017.
  5. ^ Dalton, Andrew (July 27, 2022). "Tony Dow, big brother Wally on 'Leave it to Beaver,' dies". Associated Press. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  6. ^ a b "Leave it to Beaver: Tony Dow". TV Land. Archived from the original on April 28, 2006.
  7. ^ McLellan, Dennis (February 14, 2003). "Joe Connelly, 85; Helped Create 'Leave It to Beaver'". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ Colella, Jennifer. The Leave It to Beaver Guide to Life: Wholesome Wisdom from the Cleavers! (Running Press, 2006). ISBN 0762427736, ISBN 9780762427734
  9. ^ Tony Dow, Biography Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 12, 2023.
  10. ^ The MeTV Network Celebrates Tony Dow with a Special Presentation of "Leave It to Beaver" WBBJ-TV. Retrieved May 12, 2023.
  11. ^ "Tony Dow, 'Leave It to Beaver' Star, Dies at 77". TheWrap via MSN. July 27, 2022. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Tony Dow List of Movies and TV Shows". TV Guide. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  13. ^ "9th Annual Youth in Film Awards". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2011.
  14. ^ a b c d e "Fans remember life of Tony Dow amid reports of his death". MeTV. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  15. ^ Cowan, Richard (November 18, 1979). "It's Wally and the Beaver". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved April 26, 2023.
  16. ^ "Karen Lynne Gallery". Archived from the original on March 7, 2016.
  17. ^ Ferrell, David. "Tony Dow: Sculpting a Life After "'Leave It To Beaver'," Reuters (Oct. 24, 2010).
  18. ^ Haithman, Diane (November 11, 2008). "Who Knew? "Leave It to Beaver" actor Tony Dow, also an artist, will have a sculpture on display at the Louvre". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  19. ^ "Leave it to Beaver 50th Anniversary on Good Morning America". Good Morning America. October 4, 2007. Retrieved October 6, 2007 – via YouTube.
  20. ^ Jackson, Dory (August 30, 2021). "Leave It to Beaver Alum Tony Dow Hospitalized with Pneumonia". People. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  21. ^ Wynne, Kelly; Goldstein, Joelle (July 26, 2022). "Leave It to Beaver Star Tony Dow in His 'Last Hours' After Cancer Diagnosis, Son Says". People. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  22. ^ "'Leave It to Beaver' Star Tony Dow Hospitalized with Pneumonia". TMZ. August 29, 2021. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  23. ^ Brisco, Elise (May 6, 2022). "'Leave It To Beaver' actor Tony Dow announces cancer diagnosis: 'It is truly heartbreaking'". USA Today. Archived from the original on May 8, 2022. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  24. ^ Saperstein, Pat (July 27, 2022). "Tony Dow, Who Played Wally Cleaver on 'Leave It to Beaver,' Dies a Day After Erroneous Announcement". Variety. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  25. ^ Overhultz, Lauryn (July 27, 2022). "Tony Dow, 'Leave It to Beaver' star, dead at 77, son confirms: 'He is in a better place". Fox News. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  26. ^ Bernstein, Adam (July 27, 2022). "Tony Dow, the all-American Wally on 'Leave It to Beaver,' dies at 77 look in". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 29, 2022.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Tony Dow". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 27, 2022.
  28. ^ a b Wynne, Kelly. "Leave It to Beaver Star Tony Dow in His 'Last Hours' After Cancer Diagnosis, Son Says". People. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  29. ^ Everett, Todd (August 25, 1995). "The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space". Variety. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  30. ^ Andrew, Scottie (July 26, 2022). "Tony Dow's management team removes statement star has died". CNN. Archived from the original on July 26, 2022. Retrieved July 27, 2022.

External links[edit]