NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
The 1957 sitcom “Leave It to Beaver” followed Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver on his adventures around his neighborhood, school and at home. The television show left the airwaves in 1963.
Fox News Digital confirmed Tony Dow, one of the show’s main stars, died Wednesday at age 77.
“Although this is a very sad day, I have comfort and peace that he is in a better place,” his son Christopher shared in a Facebook statement announcing his father’s death.
Here’s a look back at the show’s beloved cast:
Jerry Mathers – Theodore ‘Beaver’ Cleaver
Jerry Mathers took on the title role of Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver during the entirety of the show. He also appeared in “The New Leave It to Beaver” from 1983 until 1989.
Since the show ended, Mathers’ life has been normal by Hollywood standards. He attended school, played football and joined the track team. He then enlisted in the Air Force followed by the National Guard.
Mathers has previously said he remained in touch with his TV family.
“We’ve had reunions,” he said. “It’s probably more like how you are with people you went to school with. If anything important happens in their lives or with their grandchildren — because we all have grandchildren now — we reach out. And when someone marries. And sadly, when someone passes. Whoever finds out first calls the rest of us.”
Mathers, 74, was diagnosed In 1997 with diabetes, which completely altered his life. He was told he would only have 3-5 years to live.
“I was living the good life,” Mathers told Fox News Digital in 2017. “I had side businesses, and one of them was a catering business. And I was doing a lot of motion picture and television catering for crews, which is for about 100-200 people. It’s like setting up a whole restaurant.
“I was around food all the time, and I was a very good cook. Of course, that entailed sitting down with people. So, I was sometimes eating 5-6 full meals a day… I was making a lot of money, everything was going great, and everyone around me was at least as fat as I was.”
Mathers was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and bad cholesterol. He didn’t need much convincing to turn his life around and shed 55 pounds.
After his diagnoses, he led lectures across the country to warn listeners about the disease and how it can be prevented.
Following Dow’s death Wednesday, Mathers told Fox News Digital in part, “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 Dow – Wally Cleaver
Tony Dow, who portrayed Wally Cleaver on the sitcom, died Wednesday at 77. His son, Christopher, confirmed his passing to Fox News Digital.
“He was the best Dad anyone could ask for,” Christopher said in a Facebook statement. “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.'”
In May, Dow’s wife Lauren Shulkind announced Dow’s cancer had returned, just a month after he celebrated his 77th birthday.
Dow starred in “Leave It to Beaver” for six seasons on CBS before it switched 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 also known for his roles on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and “Babylon 5.”
Barbara Billingsley – June Cleaver
Barbara Billingsley played June Cleaver, “Beaver” Cleaver’s on-screen mom. Billingsley died in 2010 after suffering from a rheumatoid disease. She was 94.
“We knew we were making a good show, because it was so well written,” Billingsley said in 1994. “But we had no idea what was ahead. People still talk about it and write letters, telling how much they watch it today with their children and grandchildren.”
After “Leave it to Beaver” left the air in 1963, Billingsley largely disappeared from public view for several years. She resurfaced in 1980 in a hilarious cameo in “Airplane!”
She returned as June Cleaver in a 1983 TV movie, “Still the Beaver,” that co-starred Mathers and Dow and portrayed a much darker side of Beaver’s life. In 1997, Universal made a “Leave it to Beaver” theatrical film with a new generation of actors. Billingsley returned for a cameo, however, as Aunt Martha.
In later years, she appeared from time to time in such TV series as “Murphy Brown,” “Empty Nest” and “Baby Boom” and had a memorable comic turn opposite fellow TV moms June Lockhart of “Lassie” and Isabel Sanford of “The Jeffersons” on the “Roseanne” show.
Hugh Beaumont – Ward Cleaver
Hugh Beaumont took on the role as Ward Cleaver, “Beaver’s” father in the hit series. In 1982, Beaumont died at age 73. At the time of his death, The New York Times reported he suffered a heart attack while in Germany, where he was visiting his eldest son, who was teaching psychology.
After “Leave It to Beaver” came to an end, Beaumont kept busy acting. He took on roles in “Studio 57,” and he also wrote screenplays and short stories and even operated a Christmas tree farm.
Despite the show’s success, Beaumont wasn’t fazed by fame. In fact, when cameras stopped rolling, he found comfort in his family and the great outdoors.
His daughter Kristen Beaumont spoke to Closer Weekly in 2020 and described the beloved patriarch as a man who “loved poetry,” possessed “an infectious laugh” and considered the family’s annual trip to Minnesota the high point of the year.
During his later years, Beaumont lived in Minnesota. He suffered a stroke in 1970 and did little acting after that.
Ken Osmond – Eddie Haskell
As a child, Ken Osmond took on the role of Eddie Haskell in “Leave It to Beaver.”
In 2020, Osmond died of cardiopulmonary arrest. He also had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which obstructs airflow from the lungs. He died at 76 in his Los Angeles home surrounded by family.
The Glendale, California, native started his career at age 4, working in commercials and as a film extra. At age 9, he got his first speaking role in the movie “So Big,” Variety reported. He went on to appear in “Good Morning Miss Dove,” “Everything But the Truth,” “The Loretta Young Show,” “The Walter Winchell File,” “Fury,” “Lassie” and “Wagon Train,” among others.
The actor starred in “Leave It to Beaver” from 1957 to 1963. Osmond’s part as the two-faced teenage scoundrel, Haskell, was only supposed to be a one-off guest appearance. However, he did so well in his portrayal — and the show’s producers and its audience found him so memorable — that he became a regular, appearing in nearly 100 of the show’s 234 episodes.
Eddie was the best friend of Tony Dow’s Wally. He constantly kissed up to adults and kicked down at his peers, usually in the same scene, and was the closest thing the wholesome show had to a villain. Viewers of all ages loved to hate him.
Fox News’ Stephanie Nolasco contributed to this report.