Just Kidding, Tony Dow of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ Isn’t Dead…Yet

Tony Dow’s wife tapped her chest and said “my bad.” Dow was reported dead from cancer earlier today. This was officially announced by a long Facebook post. Dow’s wife Lauren Dow had notified management that Tony passed away during the night.

Turns out, no, he’s still breathing and his wife got it wrong. Gee, thanks.

Dow’s son, Christopher Dow, sent out an update:

This is a difficult time. Dad is at home, under hospice care, and in his last hours. My wife and I are by his side along with many friends that have visited. He has a fighting heart.

So, while Wally Cleaver is alive, technically, he’s in the final stages. Which is still a bummer.

Dow played Wally Cleaver in the late 1950s show, Leave It to Beaver.  The show centered around two brothers, Wally and Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver, played by Jerry Mathers. Mathers is very much alive.

It was set in the fictional town of Mayfield. With its all white cast, no ethnic characters and not even coming close to broaching any social issues of the time, it was a way to comfort viewers that all was well and they could forever live in a fantasy world.

Yet, Mathers called the show a “medieval morality play” and much deeper than viewers assume. If you read this essay, “The Moral Imagination of ‘Leave It to Beaver’,” you could come to the same conclusion. The essay points out how sharp the writing was, if you go beyond the seemingly bland exterior. The essay quotes a sample dialogue from the show:

Beaver: “Hey Wally, what’s this? I found it in the bushes.”

Wally: “It’s whiskey.”

Beaver: “Smells awful.”

Wally: “All whiskey smells awful.”

Beaver: “Then why do people drink it?”

Wally: “Well, it’s like when grownups have a party. They drink it to have a good time.”

Beaver: “Gee, if it’s a party, don’t they have a good time anyway?”

Wally: “Well, grownups have a harder time having a good time than kids do.”

Leave It to Beaver‘s output would put any sitcom nowadays to shame. It ran for six seasons and churned out an amazing 234 episodes! Typical TV seasons run 22 episodes. Streaming gives you even less, usually an eight part series.

It’s interesting to think about art and content that people create over decades, popular during their release, but now forgotten because we move on to the next shiny thing. Stranger Things is everywhere, but what about 10 years from now?

Remember 13 Reasons Why? Great series, probably top 10 of the past decade and should be shown in high schools everywhere, but people just skip to the next show in their queue.

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