Tony Dow, the actor best known for his role as Wally Cleaver on the classic sitcom Leave it to Beaver, has died. He was 77.
Dow's death was confirmed Tuesday on his official Facebook page. "Tony was a beautiful soul — kind, compassionate, funny and humble," a statement from his management team and friends said. "It was truly a joy to just be around him. His gentle voice and unpretentious manner was immediately comforting and you could not help but love him."
In May, Dow and his wife confirmed that he had been diagnosed with cancer. "He is approaching this reality so bravely, but it is truly heartbreaking," a joint statement said. He was previously hospitalized with pneumonia in August 2021.
Dow rose to fame as a child actor playing Wally, the brother of the title character, on Leave it to Beaver, and he was 12 when the show began. Decades after the series ended in 1963, he reprised the role in the sequel series, The New Leave It to Beaver, in the 1980s.
Outside of Leave it to Beaver, Dow had acting credits on shows including The Mod Squad and Murder, She Wrote, and he directed episodes of numerous shows like Babylon 5. He also had a background as a Junior Olympics diving champion and made a self-help video for those battling depression after struggling with depression himself in his 20s, Variety notes.
"From the warm reminiscences of Wally Cleaver to those of us fortunate enough to know him personally — thank you Tony," the statement shared on his Facebook page said. "And thank you for the reflections of a simpler time, the laughter, the friendship and for the feeling that you were a big brother to us all."
Update 4:20 p.m. ET: TMZ on Tuesday afternoon reported Dow is still alive, and the Facebook post mistakenly announcing his death has been removed. His wife, Lauren, reportedly wrongly believed he had died. "Yes he is still alive but in his last hours," Dow's son told Fox News. "Under hospice care."