On July 27, 2022, Tony Dow unfortunately passed away, making Jerry Mathers one of the few cast members of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ who is still alive. Mathers gave a heartfelt ode to his on-screen sibling.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow were two of the most popular young actors for their roles as Beaver and Wally in the TV series ‘Leave It to Beaver,’ which chronicled Beaver’s escapades.
The program was so popular that it was renewed for a sixth season and spawned a sequel and reunion telemovie. Regrettably, just a handful of the original cast members, like Jerry Mathers and Rusty Stevens, are still alive.
THEODORE BEAVER CLEAVER AS PLAYED BY ERRY MATHERS
Jerry Mathers, who was born Gerald Patrick Mathers on June 2, 1948, in Sioux City, Iowa, began his career in show business at the age of two when he made an appearance in a Pet Condensed Milk advertisement on the Colgate Comedy Hour.
Mathers participated in ‘I Love Lucy’ in 1953. He shared the screen in the sitcom with Lucille Ball, despite the fact that he wasn’t given credit for it.
However, his greatest notable achievement as a child actor was joining the cast of «Leave It to Beaver» when he was eight.
He gave several auditions for the position, but what ultimately won him the part was turning up in his Cub Scouts costume and announcing that he was looking forward to his den meeting.
Mathers secured the lead part and held onto it for six seasons (234 episodes from 1957 to 1963), making him the most well-known child actor in the country. In the 1982 TV movie ‘Still the Beaver,’ he played the same part again.
The New Leave It to Beaver, a new television series, was created as a result of its success. Mathers not only starred in many of the show’s 108 episodes but also directed a significant number of them.
Mathers wrote some of his memories in honor of the 60th anniversary of the program in 2017. The majority of his friends, fans, and acquaintances, he said, were gifts from the show.
After departing the cast of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ and finishing his roles in the follow-up, Mathers made appearances in ‘Married… with Children,’ ‘Diagnosis: Murder,’ ‘The War at Home,’ and numerous other Broadway and other theatrical plays.
He regrettably received a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis in the middle of the 1990s. He altered his way of life, shed 55 pounds, and began bringing the condition to the public’s attention.
His most recent TV appearance was in 2008’s ‘Mother Goose Parade,’ and he is 74 years old. Hugh Beaumont and the majority of the ‘Leave It to Beaver’ cast members have passed away.
LARRY MONDELO AS PLAYED BY RUSTY STEVENS
The other cast member of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ who is still living is Rusty Stevens. He was born on November 25, 1948, in Boston, Massachusetts, and made an amazing contribution to the arts.
Stevens worked as a street vendor selling newspapers to support his family. Talent scout Lola Moore first noticed him and appreciated his sense of style. Stevens won a part in ‘Leave It to Beaver’ despite never having performed on stage before—not even in school plays.
Although playing Larry Mondelo in ‘Beaver’s Best Friend’ may have been his acting debut, he performed a fantastic job and went on to participate in other films like ’77 Sunset Strip’ and ‘Shirley Temple’s Storybook.’ Sadly, he quit the cast of «Leave It to Beaver» after four seasons.
Stevens’ mother claimed he had been dismissed, but insiders suggest the producers were more likely bothered by her ‘overbearing’ demeanor. Shortly after, Stevens and his family relocated from Los Angeles to Pennsylvania.
After his brief appearance in 1963’s ‘The Rifleman,’ he made a few TV appearances before permanently leaving Hollywood. He married Theresa Marinelli, the mother of his one and only child, while serving in the Army in West Germany in 1969.
After years of looking, Jerry Mathers finally came across him in the early 1980s. Stevens reprised his role as Larry in the 1983 film ‘Still the Beaver’ and three episodes of ‘The New Leave It to Beaver’ after Mathers persuaded him to work with him once more.
Actors from ‘LEAVE IT TO BEAVER’ who sadly passed away
Hugh Beaumont and the majority of the ‘Leave It to Beaver’ cast members have passed away. Although he had extensive runs in ‘Racket Squad’ and the ‘Loretta Young Show,’ he already had a solid career in show business before playing the patriarch Ward Cleaver.
Mathers referred to Beaumont as his friend and mentor, and Beaumont continued acting until 1971, a year after having a stroke. He passed away in Munich, Germany, on May 14, 1982, apparently from a heart attack. He was 73.
Mathers characterized Dow as the most kind, gentle, and modest man and a brother on screen and in real life.
June Cleaver, portrayed by Barbara Billingsley, was the family matriarch. She started her career as a theatrical performer and a fashion model before being signed by MGM. She wore pearls in ‘Leave It to Beaver’ to conceal a hollow in her neck and high heels to make herself appear taller than the boys.
Billingsley appeared in ‘Mork & Mindy,’ ‘Roseanne,’ and a few other TV programs after the program was canceled in 1963.
She played the same part in the movies and television shows that followed ‘Leave It to Beaver.’ Billingsley had two sons, was married three times, and passed away on October 16, 2010, at the age of 94.
Eddie Haskell, a troublemaker better known as Ken Osmond, went away on May 18, 2020, for unknown causes. Although he had a significant part in the TV show, he was only intended to make a cameo. Nevertheless, he worked through all six seasons and dazzled everyone.
He continued working in the entertainment industry after ‘Leave It to Beaver’ finished and appeared in ‘Petticoat Junction,’ ‘With Six You Get Eggroll,’ and a few more ventures, but he soon recognized he was being pigeonholed as Eddie. Osmond began his 18-year career with the Los Angeles Police Department in 1970.
Tony Dow died at the age of 77.
Fans of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ were horrified to find that Tony Dow had reportedly passed away on July 27, 2022. The role of Wally Cleaver was his second in the entertainment industry.
In the pilot, actor Paul Sullivan played Wally; but, due to his rapid growth in height, the program had to switch him out for Dow. Following his departure from the program, Dow worked as an occasional actor, participated in the National Guard, and played the same part in ‘The New Leave It to Beaver.’
WHAT EVER BECAME OF TONY DOW?
Dow battled cancer twice, but his family reported that it resurfaced in the middle of 2022. His son later clarified that the death announcement from his father’s official Facebook account on July 26 was incorrect because his father was still alive but receiving hospice care.
Dow passed away a day later. He was 77. Jerry Mathers paid tribute to his co-star from ‘Leave It to Beaver,’ calling him a brother on screen and in real life who was the nicest, most loving, and most modest person. Legend, rest in peace.