A day after “Leave It to the Beaver” star Tony Dow was accidentally announced, his son released confirmation Wednesday saying his father passed away after a long health battle in hospice care. He was 77 years old.
The actor and director is best known for playing older brother Wally Cleaver on the hit show.
“We know the world is collectively grieving the loss of this amazing man,” a statement posted on the actor’s official Facebook page read. “He gave so much to all of us and was loved by so many. One fan said he’s the best – it’s rare when there is someone as universally loved as Tony.”
Dow representatives had earlier released a statement announcing the death of the beloved actor.
His wife, Lauren Dow, confirmed to Eyewitness News Tuesday that her husband at the time was still alive and breathing, but was in the nursing home in their home.
She emphasized that it was a misunderstanding and remorse that caused an uproar during a difficult time.
The actor — who shot to stardom at age 12 when he was cast in the soon-to-be “Leave It to Beaver” sitcom — revealed in May that he had been diagnosed with cancer.
Dow, who said he struggled with undiagnosed depression from ages 20 to 40, has spoken for decades about his mental health challenges, long before celebrities shared this information publicly.
In 1993, he was Honorary Speaker at a conference of the National Depression and Bipolar Society.
“I realize there is a perceived irony about it,” he told the Baltimore Sun about his depression in 1993. I suffer from depression. But I’m just one among millions.”
Dow told CBS that once his diagnosis was accepted and treatment started, he found hope. He channeled that hope into art, too, sculpting ornate pieces in his studio.
“I think people should take a leap of faith in order to feel better,” he said.
Dow continued to work in Hollywood, starring in television series and reprising his role in “The New Leave It to Beaver” in the 1980s. He also directed episodes of series such as “Harry and the Hendersons”, “Coach” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”.
Jerry Mathers, who starred opposite Dow as Beaver on the sitcom, told fans earlier this month that he had been in contact with Dow, whose directors said she was “in and out of hospital with many complications and treatments.”
CNN contributed to this report.
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