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Tony Dow, best known for his role as older brother Wally Cleaver in “Leave It to Beaver,” has been diagnosed with cancer.
The former child star, 77, and his wife of nearly 42 years, Lauren Shulkind, shared the news Thursday, telling TMZ they are heartbroken over the diagnosis and thankful for prayers from fans. They did not specify what type of cancer he has.
Last August, Shulkind revealed that Dow had been briefly hospitalized with pneumonia, explaining that he was forced to wait 24 hours for a hospital bed as the Delta variant of COVID-19 was rampant 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, Shulkind wrote on Facebook at the time.
Dow snagged the role on the beloved CBS-turned-ABC sitcom, which ran from 1957 to 1963, and appeared in all 234 episodes.
After the show ended, Dow popped up frequently on a host of TV shows including “Mod Squad,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “Charles in Charge.”
According to his website, he then transitioned into directing and producing and also became a respected artist focused on sculpting.
One of his bronze sculptures was selected to be exhibited at the Salon 2008 de la National des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Dow has confessed that he struggled with depression after “Leave It to Beaver.”
“I was gonna have to live with it for the rest of my life,” he told “CBS Sunday Morning” in January. “I thought, ‘This isn’t fair.’ You know? I mean, I’d like to do some other stuff. I’d like to do some interesting stuff. You know, it’s sad to be famous at 12 years old or something and then you grow up and become a real person and nothing’s happening for you.
“Depression isn’t something you can say ‘Cheer up!” about,” he said. “You know, it’s a very powerful thing. And it’s had a lot of effect on my life.”
Dow revealed that therapy and medication along with his artistic endeavors had a therapeutic effect on his depression struggle.
“I’ve got it under control pretty much,” he said. “I think people should take the leap of faith that they can feel better.”
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