WASHINGTON — Actor Tony Dow, best known for his role as big brother Wally Cleaver on the "Leave it to Beaver" sitcom in the 1950s and 60s, died Wednesday at the age of 77, family members have confirmed.
The beloved actor passed away "with his loving family at his side to see him through this journey," a statement posted on his official Facebook page stated.
Dow's death came one day after his management team prematurely announced his death while he was in hospice care. Tony's wife, Lauren, later explained to multiple outlets that she had mistakenly insinuated to several people Tuesday morning that her husband had died. She confirmed that it was a miscommunication and regrets causing any confusion.
Tony's son, Christopher, confirmed his death on Wednesday and passed along a statement.
"Although this is a very sad day, I have comfort and peace that he is in a better place," Christopher Dow said. "He was the best dad anyone could ask for. He was my coach, my mentor, my voice of reason, my best friend, my best man in my wedding and my hero."
Back in May, Dow's wife posted on his Facebook page to tell fans that the "Leave it to Beaver" star had cancer again. Although no specific diagnosis was ever given, Dow had survived two bouts with cancer before.
Last week, his management team said Dow's cancer battle had recently been "a rollercoaster of ups and downs" and he had been in and out of the hospital "with various complications and treatments."
Throughout his career, Dow also appeared on "General Hospital," "Never Too Young" and as himself on "The Love Boat."
He was born in Hollywood and was a Junior Olympics diving champion. But he broke into show business with his audition as Wally in the popular "Leave it to Beaver" show. It ran from 1957 to 1963.
The sitcom followed a stereotypical Cold War family, including the mischievous Beaver, Wally and their parents, played by Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont.
In recent years, Dow had started carving out a name for himself in the art world as an abstract artist.