Leave it to Beaver was on the air from 1957 to 1963. It starred Jerry Mather’s as Beaver Cleaver and his older brother Wally was played by Tony Dow. Even if you weren’t around to catch the classic sitcom during its original run. Its reruns have been on the air in syndication virtually ever since. For his role as Wally, Dow won the Young Artist Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award. Let’s take a closer look at Tony Dow life and career and see what he has been up to in recent years.
Tony Dow’s Early Life And Career
Tony was born in Hollywood, California. His father, John Stevens Dow Jr, was a designer and contractor and his mother, Muriel Virginia Dow, was a stunt woman who performed in early Westerns. She was also Clara Bow’s movie double for quite some time.
Tony Dow a trained diver who competed in the AAU Junior Olympic Games before changing course and becoming a child actor. He scored the iconic role on the sitcom without having had previous acting experience. In fact, he never really set his sights on acting. It’s his mother’s involvement with show business that initially lured him in. But once he discovered that he had a knack for performing in front of the camera, he was hooked. On Leave It To Beaver, Dow rose to fame through the 234 episodes that he appeared in.
Leave It To Beaver on the air before the assassination of JFK. The arrival of the Beatles, and the escalation of the American involvement in Vietnam. In a way, it represented the last wave of more innocent times in America. The world changed dramatically shortly after it wrapped up production.
Not only did the music change, but so did the people and their desires in what they seeking out of life. In a way, Leave It To Beaver is a bit of a time capsule. While Dow certainly didn’t realize it at the time. He’s a part of something that would live on as a testament of the period that it came out of for audiences to enjoy for many decades to come.
During his time as Wally, Dow’s mom would drive him to work every day after breakfast. He used to study his lines while he was on the way to the studio. Other than the three hours of the day that he spent doing his schooling, the rest of the time was spent behind the camera.
Dow continued to portray Wally Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver for six years. During its production, Dow had no clue that he’s a part of something that would someday be looked back on as an iconic representation of an era. He hardly even expected anyone to see it two years from then let alone 60. But regardless he gave the series his all. Let’s take a closer look at Tony Dow life and career and see what he has up to in recent years.
After Beaver wrapped up production in 1963, Dow found it relatively difficult to break away from the character of Wally. He found himself typecast, People in the industry either wanted him because he was Wally or they didn’t for the same reason. So for a time, he was a bit resentful but never specifically for doing the show. He later even admitted that he didn’t really come to appreciate Leave it for Beaver for what it until in his 40s.
After Leave it to Beaver, Dow went on to appear in other television shows like My Three Sons, Dr. Kildare, The Greatest Show on Earth, Never Too Young, and Mr. Novak. But even though he managed to find more work in the industry. He never quite able to find the same level of success as he did playing Wally.
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And don’t you dare think about going anywhere so soon. Stick around to see what Tony Dow and his former co-star Jerry Mathers have been up to in recent times. Let’s take a closer look at Tony Dow life and career and see what he has up to in recent years.
After Leave It To Beaver
In 1983, Dow reprised his role as Wally in the spin-off series ‘ Still The Beaver’ directed by Steven Hillard-Stern.
Dow went on to appear in films like Death Scream, The Kentucky Fried Movie, and Back to the Beach. He took a step away from acting for a bit between the years 1965 and 1968. During that time he served in the United States National Guard.
In the 1970s, Dow worked in the construction industry while he studied film and journalism hoping to pave a way for his career to continue to develop. He continued to make appearances in a variety of television shows and Broadway productions like Hairspray.
For the next two decades, Dow worked behind-the-scenes in the entertainment industry as a director and producer for productions like The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space and It Came From Outer Space.
He also directed a handful of episodes of shows like Cover Me: Based on the True Life of an FBI Family, Babylon 5, Swamp Thing, Coach, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and The New Leave it to Beaver. He has also served as the visual effects supervisor for Babylon 5. In 1996, he helped provide the visual effects for the Fox television movie adaptation of Doctor Who.
Dow’s most recent screen credit as an actor was in the 2003 film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.
In 2015, Dow cast in the short film Lucky Day and landed a role in one episode of the show Suspense. A couple of years later, he made a guest appearance on ‘Find Your Future Reality’. Since 2019, Dow has been promoting Leave it to Beaver and other classic TV series on the MeTV television network.
A Talented Sculptor And A Devoted Husband
Still just creative as he ever was, Dow tapped into his artistic abilities by working as a modern-art sculptor. One of his pieces is even on display at the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Dow lives and works in Topanga Canyon, California, and finds many of his sculpting materials out in nature. He’s a huge fan of ‘found art’ and tries to incorporate those kinds of elements into many of his pieces.
On June 14, 1969, Dow walked down the aisle with Carol Marie Theresa Marlow. He and his wife soon welcomed their son Christoper into the world, but unfortunately, their marriage not meant to last. They ended up finalizing their divorce in 1980 after 11 years of marriage.
Less than a year later, Dow married a mosaic artist named Lauren Shulkind and had another child. Fortunately, that union built to last. Dow and Shulkind have married for more than two decades now.
In the 1990s. Dow revealed that he had been suffering from clinical depression. Since then, he has starred in self-help videos detailing his battle with the psychological ailment. Most notably, he appeared in the 1998 film Beating the Blues.
In 2018, Dow and his wife Lauren Dow joined forces for a performance of A.R. Garney’s Love Letters at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, Connecticut for two shows although that not the first time that he appeared in that play.
He had previously met a man in Texas who owned a theatre who invited him down to do a production of that play with Judy Norton from The Waltons. He fell in love with the play and ended up performing it with Joyce DeWitt from Three’s Company. As well as another performance with Olympic figure skater Tal Babilonia.
Before returning to the stage for that production, Dow was beginning to notice that he wasn’t as young as he used to be and his memory was no longer the steel trap that it used to be, so a play where he could sit down and just read was perfect for him at that point in his life.
What About The Beaver?
Much like his co-star, Jerry Mathers also left the acting world to enlist in the United States Air Force Reserve before he attended the University of California
Mathers then took a job as a commercial loan officer before becoming an accomplished real estate development broker. Eventually, he returned to acting appearing in ‘So Long, Stanley’ with Dow.
He continued acting with a variety of appearances in TV shows and the occasional broadway production. Unfortunately, he eventually diagnosed with diabetes and lost more than 40 pounds. He has since used this difficult chapter of his life to raising awareness of the disease for other’s benefit. He later became the first male spokesman for Jenny Craig.
Like Dow, Mathers too won the Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award for his role as the Beaver in Leave it to Beaver in 1984.
Mathers most recent acting credit was as the character Mr. Simpson in the 2008 film Will to Power. He also appeared in the television film Mother Goose Parade that same year.
Mathers has married three times. He met his first wife, Diana Platt, while he was in college. They got married in 1974 but later divorced. He met his second wife, Rhonda Gehring, while he was on tour with the production of So Long, Stanley. They ended up having three children together. Mathers and Gehring divorced in 1987. Jerry met his third wife, Teresa Mednick, Huntington Beach on January 30, 2011, and they have happily married ever since.
Well, that’s about all time we’ve got left for this video. It’s been nice catching up with Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers and seeing what their lives have been like since the days of Leave It to Beaver. It’s actually extremely refreshing to see former child stars that ended up becoming well-adjusted adults. That’s a rare feat indeed.
And while they both never quite ever found the same level of success in their acting careers as they did when they portrayed Wally and the Beaver, they did both find their own way in this world. And we should all really treasure them while they are still with us. Fortunately, they both seem to be in relatively decent health at the moment, but that could all easily change in a blink of an eye.
Anyway, now’s your turn to let your voice heard. In the comments section below, let us know who your favorite Leave it to Beaver sibling was, Wally or the Beaver.
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