Leave it to Beaver‘s iconic big brother Wally Cleaver, played by Tony Dow, has died. The actor’s reps confirmed the news that he passed away Wednesday morning, July 27, via Facebook. “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,” the announcement read in part. “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.'”
The official news comes after an awkward earlier report that said he’d passed away on Tuesday, July 26. Tony’s management team had posted to Facebook on Tuesday, July 26, that the star, 77, had died, but the message was abruptly removed. Los Angeles reporter George Pennacchio claimed he spoke with Tony’s wife Lauren Dow Tuesday.
“Tony Dow is still alive,” George posted directly to Facebook Tuesday. “I had a conversation with his wife, Lauren. She is understandably distraught and grief-stricken about what’s been going on with Tony’s health battle these past months. He’s been in hospice care at their home, and based on some health issues overnight, Lauren inferred that Tony had passed away to some people close to her and the word quickly spread. Lauren admits she’s been ‘a little fuzzy’ these days – understandable.”
George explained further, saying that Lauren feels bad about the miscommunication about Tony, who announced through her in a vague Facebook statement in May he was diagnosed with cancer. Last week, per The Chicago Tribune, the actor’s management team stated that his condition was deteriorating.
“She told me she now feels ‘foolish’ about what has transpired since his death has been reported around the world,” George continued in the Facebook post. “She also told me, through her pain, ‘it is of my own doing.’ I told her we know it’s been a very stressful time and people understand overwhelming grief. Lauren says she ‘loves and adores’ her husband of 42 years with all of her heart. While she did say he passed, she now understands the miscommunication and is sorry for causing a commotion in this challenging time.”
Tony’s son Christophe Dow reportedly told Fox News Tuesday that the family was prepared for his passing. “This is a difficult time,” he told Fox News, per Deadline. “Yes, he is still alive, but in his last hours; under hospice care.”
Tony played all-American big brother Wally opposite Jerry Mathers‘ petulant Beaver in the TV sitcom classic, which ran between 1957 and 1963.