Update Wednesday, July 27, 5 p.m. ET:
Dow’s agent, Frank Bilotta, confirmed to Us Weekly that the actor passed away on Wednesday morning. His death was also announced via his official Facebook page.
“We have received confirmation from Christopher, Tony’s son, that Tony passed away earlier this morning, with his loving family at his side to see him through this journey,” his management team wrote. “We know that the world is collectively saddened by the loss of this incredible man. He gave so much to us all and was loved by so many. One fan said it best — ‘It is rare when there is a person who is so universally loved like Tony.’”
They added, “Our heart goes out to Tony’s wife, Lauren, who will miss her soulmate of 42 years … To his son, Christopher, who will dearly miss his father, who was also his best friend* … to his daughter-in-law, Melissa, who loved him like her own father … To his Granddaughter, Tyla, who will undoubtedly carry on her Grandfather’s kind soul, To his Brother Dion and Sister-in-Law, Judy, and to all of his extended family and friends. Words cannot express how much we will all feel his absence, but will cherish the memories he left to each and every one of us.”
As for Tony’s son Christopher, the social media post quoted him as saying: “Although this is a very sad day, I have comfort and peace that he is in a better place. 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. My wife said something powerful and shows the kind of man he was. She said: ‘Tony was such a kind man. He had such a huge heart and I’ve never heard Tony say a bad or negative thing about anyone.’”
Updated Tuesday, July 26 at 4 p.m. ET:
Dow is “in his last hours,” the actor’s son, Christopher Dow, clarified to Fox News after the sitcom star’s death was prematurely announced earlier on Tuesday.
“This is a difficult time,” Christopher said. Yes he is still alive but in his last hours. Under hospice care.”
The Facebook post announcing Tony’s death has since been deleted.
Original story continues below:
Leave It to Beaver star Tony Dow, who portrayed Wally Cleaver on the 1950s sitcom, has died at age 77.
The late actor’s death was announced Tuesday, July 26, via his official Facebook page.
“It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share with you the passing of our beloved Tony this morning. Tony was a beautiful soul – kind, compassionate, funny and humble,” his management team wrote, per NBC News. “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. The world has lost an amazing human being, but we are all richer for the memories that he has left us.”
The post continued: “From the warm reminiscences of Wally Cleaver to those of us fortunate enough to know him personally — thank you Tony. 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. We will miss you.”
Dow’s death comes two months after his wife, Lauren Shulkind, announced that her husband had “once again been diagnosed with cancer.”
“Dear friends and fans of Tony Dow, I have some very sad news to share with you,” she wrote via his official Facebook at the time, Variety noted. “Unfortunately, Tony has once again been diagnosed with cancer. He is approaching this reality so bravely, but it is truly heartbreaking. We want to thank you in advance for your caring thoughts. Our Love, Lauren & Tony.”
Dow portrayed Beaver’s older brother, Wally, on the 1950s sitcom from 1957 to 1963. He later reprised the beloved role for another six years on The New Leave It to Beaver, which aired from 1983 to 1989, as well as in the Still the Beaver TV movie in the early ‘80s.
In addition to his time as the older Cleaver brother, the California native continued to score TV roles throughout the next several decades, including a starring role in 153 episodes of Never Too Young in the mid-‘60s. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Dow made appearances on Lassie, My Three Sons, Mr. Novak, Murder, She Wrote and Charles in Charge.
The Freddy’s Nightmares alum acted sporadically in the ‘90s and 2000s, with a two-episode arc on Diagnosis Murder in 1999 and a part in the David Spade comedy Dicky Roberts: Former Child Star in 2003. His final acting appearances were in a 2015 episode and a 2016 episode of Suspense.