‘Leave It to Beaver’ star Tony Dow diagnosed with cancer

Tony Dow, best known for his role in “Leave It to Beaver,” has been diagnosed with cancer.

The beloved actor, who played Wally Cleaver on the iconic sitcom, and his wife Lauren shared the heartbreaking news Thursday, TMZ reported.

The pair said they’re thankful in advance for prayers from fans, but did not divulge the type of cancer Dow is battling.

News of the ailing actor’s health struggles became known in August of last year when he was briefly hospitalized with pneumonia.

His worried wife shared on Facebook that he was forced to wait 24 hours for a hospital bed as Delta variant COVID-19 cases surged in California at the time.

Despite a “violent cough” that was “causing pains on the top of his head,” Dow was in good spirits with no fever, just lots of IV fluids, Lauren said at the time.

Dow (top) played Wally Cleaver on the iconic sitcom.
Dow (top) played Wally Cleaver on the iconic sitcom.
Getty Images

The Hollywood-born actor bagged the role of Wally via an open casting call with almost no acting experience. After six years on the smash sitcom, he secured guest-starring roles in “My Three Sons,” “Dr. Kildare,” “Lassie” and “The Greatest Show on Earth,” before taking on a recurring role on “Mr. Novak.”

Unlike many doomed child stars, when his career stalled, Dow explored new walks of professional life, such as sculpting, according to his website.

He took a break from the entertainment industry to serve in the National Guard from 1965 to 1968, and in the 70s he attended journalism school, according to his IMDb bio.

Tony Dow in
Dow (far right) starred in all 234 episodes of the sitcom from 1957 to 1963.
Courtesy Everett Collection

Dow later returned to the small screen in the ’70s with guest spots on “Adam-12,” “The Mod Squad” and “Love American Style” and continued to work throughout the ’80s in “Knight Rider,” “Square Pegs” and “Murder, She Wrote,” to name a few.

He revived his iconic role as Wally opposite Jerry Mathers in “The New Leave It to Beaver” from 1983 until 1989.

Dow segued into directing in the ’90s, stepping behind the camera to helm episodes of “Coach,” “Babylon 5” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

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