Actor Tony Dow, who played Wally Cleaver on the long-running sitcom “Leave It to Beaver,” died Wednesday morning at the age of 77, his son has confirmed to news outlets.
Dow’s death was due to complications from liver cancer, according to The Washington Post.
The death was officially announced on the actor’s Facebook fan page, and was confirmed by both TMZ and Fox News.
On Tuesday, Dow’s management team had erroneously announced the actor’s death in a Facebook post that has since been deleted.
Later on Tuesday, Dow’s manager and his wife, Lauren Shulkind, both told TMZ that Dow was still alive and in hospice care.
Dow was born in Hollywood to a mother who worked as a stunt performer in the early days of the film industry, but he was more interested in swimming as a child and was a Junior Olympics diving champion, according to Variety.
But the acting bug hit him in 1957 after he was cast as Wally, the older brother of Beaver Cleaver, played by Jerry Mathers, in the family sitcom “Leave It to Beaver.”
Dow didn’t set out to get the role. He’d just tagged along with a friend who was auditioning, but he ended up getting the part himself.
The show ran from 1957 to 1963 and still airs in syndication.
After “Leave It to Beaver” ended, Dow continued to act, but also served in the National Guard between 1965 and 1968, according to TMZ.
In the late ’70s, Dow reunited with Mathers to tour dinner theaters in the play “So Long Stanley.” He reunited with most of the “Beaver” cast for the 1983 reunion film “Still the Beaver,” which was followed by a “Leave It to Beaver” sequel series that ran on TBS from 1986 to 1989.
Dow directed five episodes and wrote one for that show, and later branched out into directing other series, including “Harry and the Hendersons,” “Coach,” “Babylon 5,” “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” according to Variety.
He also enjoyed sculpting, and his works appeared in galleries and international exhibitions.