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Tony Dow, 'Leave it to Beaver' star, dead at 77 after premature announcement

Tony Dow's wife told fans back in May that the "Leave it to Beaver" star was battling cancer again.

WASHINGTON — Actor Tony Dow, best known for his role as big brother Wally Cleaver on the "Leave it to Beaver" sitcom in the 1950s and 60s, died Wednesday at the age of 77, family members have confirmed. 

The beloved actor passed away "with his loving family at his side to see him through this journey," a statement posted on his official Facebook page stated

Dow's death came one day after his management team prematurely announced his death while he was in hospice care. Tony's wife, Lauren, later explained to multiple outlets that she had mistakenly insinuated to several people Tuesday morning that her husband had died. She confirmed that it was a miscommunication and regrets causing any confusion. 

Tony's son, Christopher, confirmed his death on Wednesday and passed along a statement. 

"Although this is a very sad day, I have comfort and peace that he is in a better place," Christopher Dow said. "He was the best dad anyone could ask for. He was my coach, my mentor, my voice of reason, my best friend, my best man in my wedding and my hero."

Back in May, Dow's wife posted on his Facebook page to tell fans that the "Leave it to Beaver" star had cancer again. Although no specific diagnosis was ever given, Dow had survived two bouts with cancer before.

Last week, his management team said Dow's cancer battle had recently been "a rollercoaster of ups and downs" and he had been in and out of the hospital "with various complications and treatments." 

Throughout his career, Dow also appeared on "General Hospital," "Never Too Young" and as himself on "The Love Boat."

Credit: AP
In this Thursday, Sept. 18, 2012 photo, Tony Dow, actor, director and artist, poses at his home and studio in the Topanga area of Los Angeles.

He was born in Hollywood and was a Junior Olympics diving champion. But he broke into show business with his audition as Wally in the popular "Leave it to Beaver" show. It ran from 1957 to 1963.

The sitcom followed a stereotypical Cold War family, including the mischievous Beaver, Wally and their parents, played by Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont.

Credit: AP
FILE - This Dec. 10, 1982 file photo shows members of the original cast of the "Leave It To Beaver," from left, Ken Osmond, Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley and Jerry Mathers during the filming of their TV special, "Still The Beaver," in Los Angeles.

In recent years, Dow had started carving out a name for himself in the art world as an abstract artist. 

Credit: AP
In this Sept. 27, 2007 file photo, seated, from left, Jerry Mathers, Barbara Billingsley and Tony Dow, and, standing from left, Frank Bank and Ken Osmond, pose for a photo to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Leave it to Beaver."

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