LOS ANGELES – Tony Dow, who as Wally Cleaver on the sitcom “Leave It to Beaver” helped create the popular and lasting image of the American teenager of the 1950s and 60s, died Wednesday. He was 77.
Frank Bilotta, who represented Dow in his work as a sculptor, confirmed his death in an email to The Associated Press.
No cause was given, but Dow had been in hospice care and announced in May that he had been diagnosed with prostate and gall bladder cancer.
“Although this is a very sad day, I have comfort and peace that he is in a better place,” Dow’s son Christopher said in a post on his father’s official Facebook page. “He was the best Dad anyone could ask for. He was my coach, my mentor, my voice of reason, my best friend, my best man in my wedding, and my hero.”
A previous post on Dow’s Facebook page on Tuesday prematurely reported that he had died, but his wife and management team later took down the post and explained that it was announced in error.
Dow’s Wally was an often annoyed but essentially loving big brother who was constantly bailing out the title character, Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver, played by Jerry Mathers, on the show that was synonymous with the sometimes hokey wholesome image of the 1950s American family.