One day after “Leave It to Beaver” star Tony Dow was pronounced dead by mistake, his son issued a confirmation Wednesday saying his father died after a long health battle in hospice care. He was 77.
The actor and director was best known for his role as older brother Wally Cleaver on the hit show.
“We know that the world is collectively saddened by the loss of this incredible man,” read a statement posted on the actor’s official Facebook page. “He gave so much to us all and was loved by so many. One fan said it best-‘It is rare when there is a person who is so universally loved like Tony.'”
Dow’s representatives had previously issued a statement announcing the passing of the beloved actor.
His wife, Lauren Dow, confirmed to Eyewitness News Tuesday that at the time, her husband was still alive and breathing, but was in hospice care in their home.
She confirmed it was a miscommunication and regrets causing a commotion during a challenging time.
The actor – who was thrust into stardom at age 12 when he was cast on the soon-to-be-smash sitcom “Leave It to Beaver” – revealed in May that he had been diagnosed with cancer.
Dow, who said he experienced undiagnosed depression from age 20 to age 40, spoke out for decades about his mental health challenges, long before it was common for celebrities to disclose that information publicly.
In 1993, he was an honorary speaker at a convention for the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association.
“I realize there’s a perceived irony about this,” he told the Baltimore Sun of his depression in 1993. “You know, the fact that I was in a TV program that epitomized the supposed ideal world of the ’50s, and here I am.” m suffering from depression. But I’m just one of millions.”
Dow told CBS that once he accepted his diagnosis and began treatment, he found hope. He channeled that hope into art, too, sculpting ornate pieces at his home studio.
“I think people should take the leap of faith that they can feel better,” he said.
Dow continued to work in Hollywood, taking parts in TV series and even reprising his role in “The New Leave It to Beaver” in the 1980s. He also directed episodes of series like “Harry and the Hendersons,” “Coach” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
Jerry Mathers, who starred opposite Dow as Beaver on their hit sitcom, told fans earlier this month that he’d been in contact with Dow, whose managers said he had been “in and out of the hospital with various complications and treatments.”
CNN contributed to this report.
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