UPDATE: Tony Dow is still alive, but the public was only just now made aware of that fact after hours of mourning. Dow's official management shared a death announcement on Tuesday morning. However, it turned out to be false and was only shared after Dow's wife Lauren misspoke about his health status. Before this clarification occurred, his Leave It to Beaver co-star Jerry Mathers offered a heartbreaking message after learning the now-debunked news. Mathers starred as Theodore "The Beaver" Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver, while Dow played his older brother, Wally. Mathers, 74, and Dow, 77, are the last surviving member of the iconic show's original cast.
Mathers wrote on Facebook, alongside a recent photo of the two actors together: "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."
"Tony was so grateful for all of the love and support from our fans across the world," Mathers continued. "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."
One again, to clarify, Dow is still alive, and the above statement was made before Mathers knew that. However, it truly stands as a testament to just how much Mathers' on-screen brother means to him.
Leave It to Beaver debuted on CBS in 1957 and moved to ABC the following year. The show concluded in 1963 and was followed by The New Leave It to Beaver (1983-1989). Hugh Beaumont and Barbara Billingsly played Theodore and Wally's parents. Beaumont died in 1982 and Billingsley died in 2010. Ken Osmond, who played Wally's friend Eddie Haskell, died in May 2020.
After Leave It to Beaver ended, Dow went on to have a successful career as a television producer and director. He directed episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Coach and Babylon 5. He was hospitalized with pneumonia in October 2021 and diagnosed with cancer in May. His wife is obviously upset over her error in prematurely announcing his death, as she relayed to ABC7 reporter George Pennacchio.
"She (Lauren) is understandably distraught and grief-stricken about what's been going on with Tony's health battle these past months," Pennacchio says. "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.
"She told me she now feels 'foolish' about what has transpired since his death has been reported around the world. 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."