Jerry Mathers Remembers Leave It to Beaver Co-Star Tony Dow: "He Was Not Only My Brother on TV"

UPDATETMZ brings word that the post has now been deleted and that Dow's management confirms he's still alive. CBS News brings word directly from Dow's wife Lauren Dow, that the actor is still alive for the time being. Our original story follows.  

Jerry Mathers, the titular Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver in the beloved sitcom Leave it to Beaver, took to social media today to pay tribute to the late Tony Dow. Dow, who played Mathers's onscreen brother Wally Cleaver, passed away today at age 77. The pair appeared in over 200 episodes between 1957 and 1963. In a Facebook post today, Mathers said that Dow was like a brother to him in real life, as much as he was onscreen. 

Leave it to Beaver is one of the first massively popular family sitcoms, and set the template for that kind of show for years to come. In addition to the main series, various cast members (including Dow) came back for revivals and TV movies over the years. From 1983 to 1989, Dow reprised his role as Wally Cleaver in a reunion television movie and in a subsequent series The New Leave It to Beaver, the latter of which he served as director on some episodes.

"It is with the utmost sadness I learned this morning of my co-star and lifelong friend Tony Dow's passing," Mathers shared to social media this afternoon. "He was not only my brother on tv, but in many ways in life as well. Tony leaves an empty place in my heart that won't be filled. He was always the kindest, most generous, gentle, loving, sincere, and humble man, that it was my honor and privilege to be able to share memories together with for 65 years. Tony was so grateful for all of the love and support from our fans across the world. My wife Teresa and I send our deepest condolences to his wife Lauren, his family and to all of those who knew and loved him. The world may have lost a star today, but the heavens gained another."

In addition to his acting, Dow is a director, producer, and artist who has done both visual effects work for TV and sculpture. Some of his sculpture work has been exhibited at the Louvre.

Dow's directing work includes episodes of Babylon 5, the original Swamp Thing show on USA Network, Star Trek, and the TV spinoffs of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Harry and the Hendersons. His visual effects work reached as far as Doctor Who. Dow's Star Trek episode was Deep Space Nine's "Field of Fire."

As an actor, Dow appeared in a wide variety of TV roles between 1957 and 2016, from Adam-12 and General Hospital to Diagnosis Murder and Freddy's Nightmares. His most recent acting role was on a 2014 reinvention of the long-running radio series Suspense.

"It is with an extremely heavy heart that we share with you the passing of our beloved Tony this morning," said a statement delivered to Dow's official Facebook page this morning. "Tony was a beautiful soul – kind, compassionate, funny and humble. It was truly a joy to just be around him. His gentle voice and unpretentious manner was immediately comforting and you could not help but love him. The world has lost an amazing human being, but we are all richer for the memories that he has left us. From the warm reminiscences of Wally Cleaver to those of us fortunate enough to know him personally – thank you Tony. And thank you for the reflections of a simpler time, the laughter, the friendship and for the feeling that you were a big brother to us all."

Our condolences go out to Mr. Dow's family, firends, fans, and collaborators during this difficult time.