A new statement posted to Dow’s Facebook page on Tuesday afternoon reads as follows:
“This morning Tony’s wife Lauren, who was very distraught, had notified us that Tony had passed and asked that we notify all his fans. As we are sure you can understand, this has been a very trying time for her. We have since received a call from Tony’s daughter-in-law saying that while Tony is not doing well, he has not yet passed. Tony’s son Christopher and his daughter-in-law Melissa have also been by his side comforting him, and we will keep you posted on any future updates.”
UPDATE: Dow ultimately passed one day later, on July 27. For the latest, click here.
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW:
Tony Dow, best known for portraying Wally Cleaver on TV’s Leave It to Beaver, has died at age 77.
“It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share with you the passing of our beloved Tony this morning,” reads an entry on Dow’s Facebook page, posted Tuesday morning. “Tony was a beautiful soul – kind, compassionate, funny and humble. 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 statement continues, “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.” The post was signed, “Frank Bilotta and Renee James- Tony’s Management Team & Dear Friends.”
Jerry Mathers, who played Dow’s TV brother Theodore Cleaver (aka “The Beaver”) posted the following heartfelt tribute to his own Facebook page on Tuesday: “It is with the utmost sadness I learned this morning of my co-star and lifelong friend Tony Dow’s passing. He was not only my brother on TV, but in many ways in life as well. Tony leaves an empty place in my heart that won’t be filled. He was always the kindest, most generous, gentle, loving, sincere, and humble man, that it was my honor and privilege to be able to share memories together with for 65 years.”
Mathers concludes, “Tony was so grateful for all of the love and support from our fans across the world. My wife Teresa and I send our deepest condolences to his wife Lauren, his family and to all of those who knew and loved him. The world may have lost a star today, but the heavens gained another.”
In addition to playing one of pop culture’s most iconic older brothers — a role he played from 1957 to 1963, then reprised in The New Leave It to Beaver from 1983 to 1989 — Dow’s career included high-profile appearances on shows like Diagnosis Murder, Knight Rider, Lassie and Mod Squad.