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Jerry Mathers is mourning the loss of his “Leave It to Beaver” co-star and “wonderful friend” Tony Dow.
Dow’s son, Christopher Dow, confirmed to Fox News Digital Wednesday that the actor has died. He was 77.
“It is with the utmost sadness I learned of my co-star and lifelong friend Tony Dow’s passing,” Mathers, 74, told Fox News Digital. “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,” the former child star shared. “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,” Mathers added.
Christopher shared that he spoke with his father’s manager, who made the official Facebook announcement Wednesday.
“Although this is a very sad day, I have comfort and peace that he is in a better place,” Christopher said in a Facebook statement. “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.
“My wife said something powerful and shows the kind of man he was. She said: ‘Tony was such a kind man. He had such a huge heart and I’ve never heard Tony say a bad or negative thing about anyone.’”
On Tuesday, Dow’s management team said that the star had died, but the Facebook post was subsequently taken down.
Dow’s wife, Lauren Shulkind, gave the “false information” to his management team, his son explained to Fox News Digital. Shulkind had believed Dow had passed and shared the information with his management team prematurely, according to TMZ.
“This is a difficult time,” Christopher told Fox News Digital. He explained that his father was in his “last hours” and “under hospice care.
“He has a fighting heart.”
Dow starred alongside Mathers, Barbara Billingsley, Hugh Beaumont and Ken Osmond in “Leave It to Beaver” during his childhood. The show ran for six seasons on CBS before switching to ABC.
The actor participated in the reunion show, “Still the Beaver,” and the show’s sequel series, “The New Leave It to Beaver.”
Dow was diagnosed with cancer in March. At the time, his wife told TMZ the couple was heartbroken over the news.
While Dow was a successful sculptor, he also led a successful career as an actor and director. He was best known as Wally Cleaver, the big brother to “Beaver” Ward Cleaver (Mathers). “Leave It to Beaver,” which aired from 1957 until 1963, chronicled the misadventures of a suburban boy, his family and friends.
After starring in the feel-good family sitcom, Dow kept busy in Hollywood, making guest appearances on a variety of TV shows. Then, in the ‘80s, he launched a career in directing and producing that continued for 20 years.
In the early 2000s, he began pursuing his childhood love of art and created designs produced from burlwood. One of Dow’s sculptures was chosen for an exhibition in Paris. He happily enjoyed a new career in art and lived in the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California, where he created sculptures.
In 2019, Dow told Fox News Digital “Leave It to Beaver” perfectly embodied the ‘50s and ‘60s.
“Everybody’s going to have an opinion,” Dow explained at the time. “But I think the show is the most natural and most realistic representation of the late ‘50s, early ‘60s that was on the air. And most of the stories came from real life.
“I remember the writers would come in with these elaborate pitches,” he added. “The producers would then say, ‘I don’t want to know any of that. Stop pitching us. Just tell us the worst thing that’s ever happened to you as a kid. Go write that.’ So they really tried to keep the show realistic and believable. … I’m a little biased, as all my other friends who are on other shows are. They think their shows are the best. But I really do think ours was special because it was written extremely well. We spent a little more money on it than most, I believe, but it was just more realistic.”
FOX News’ Lauryn Overhultz contributed to this report.