Leave It To Beaver's Jerry Mathers Shares Heartfelt Tribute For Co-Star And 'Lifelong Friend' Tony Dow After Mistaken Reports Of His Death

tony dow and jerry mathers interview
(Image credit: KTLA)

Frequently, it seems that little time passes where we don’t lose a beloved star of either the big or small screen, so it makes sense that today saw many fans begin to mourn the loss of classic TV show actor, Leave it to Beaver's Tony Dow (he played stalwart older brother, Wally) thinking he'd died at 77. Apparently, Dow's wife, Lauren, mistakenly posted about his death on Facebook, but that prompted his co-star and “lifelong friend,” Jerry Mathers, to share a heartfelt tribute to Dow after the incorrect report of his passing.

What Did Jerry Mathers Say About His Leave It To Beaver Co-Star, Tony Dow?

It’s probably true that one can go through a formative experience like growing up on the set of an extremely popular TV show as a star of that series and not become great friends with any of your co-stars, but that was not the case for Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow, who played Beaver and Wally Cleaver, respectively, on the hit series. While we now know that Dow is still with us, thanks to a Facebook update from Los Angeles ABC reporter George Pennacchio, Mathers had earlier taken a tribute to Dow to his own Facebook page, where he said:

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. 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.

Mathers' touching words were accompanied by a photo of the two men, which appears to have been taken relatively recently, where they're both smiling at the camera and sporting colorfully printed shirts and wearing leis around their necks. And, with Mathers' obvious sadness at thinking his long-time friend had died, such an image is clearly how he'd like to think of Dow when he does have to remember him.

Dow and Mathers met as kids when he played the athletic, polite, and smart older brother to Mathers' frequently misbehaving Beaver on Leave it to Beaver, with the original show running from 1957 through 1963. The family comedy was so popular (with the stars noting a few years back that it was an unlikely success) that the two reteamed in 1983 for the TV movie, Still the Beaver, and the sequel series, The New Leave it to Beaver, which ran from 1985 through 1989, and even appeared in a Saturday Night Live segment together.

After his work on the series, Dow continued to act, making appearances on series such as Lassie, Mod Squad, Knight Rider, Murder, She Wrote, and Diagnosis Murder, and also portrayed himself in David Spade's 2003 film, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. Dow also later moved behind the scenes to direct, produce, and write, with his directing work taking him to shows like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Coach, and Babylon 5, as well as The New Leave it to Beaver

Tony Dow's wife noted that he's been in hospice care at their home, and in poor health, for several months now, and it was her sadness over his health that's led her to be "a little fuzzy" mentally lately, which was part of what led to her mistake.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Yennefer's apprentice, Gilmore Girl; will Vulcan nerve pinch pretty much anyone if prompted with cheese...Yes, even Jamie Fraser.