Early Life & Career
Tony Dow was born Tony Lee Dow on April 13, 1945, in Hollywood, California, USA, to Muriel Virginia Dow and John Stevens Dow, Jr. Before making his acting debut, Dow was a trained diver. He even took part in ‘The AAU Junior Olympic Games’ which is organized annually by the ‘Amateur Athletic Union’ (AAU).
Though he had no previous acting experience, he won the role of Wally Cleaver after attending an audition held by the makers of television sitcom ‘Leave It to Beaver.’ He played Cleaver from 1957 to 1963, appearing in 234 episodes. His performance in the series was appreciated by critics and commoners alike. Subsequently, he became a household name in the United States.
When ‘Leave It to Beaver’ went off-air in 1963, Dow started appearing in other television series, such as ‘Dr. Kildare,’ ‘The Eleventh Hour,’ ‘The Greatest Show on Earth,’ and ‘My Three Sons.’ From 1963 to 1965, he was seen in five episodes of a dramatic TV series titled ‘Mr. Novak.’
From 1965 to 1966, he played Chet in 17 episodes of ‘ABC’ television network’s daytime series ‘Never Too Young.’ His acting career during this period was interrupted as he served in the ‘United States National Guard’ from 1965 to 1968. In 1968, he played Drew Hanford in the popular TV series ‘Lassie.’
He continued playing minor roles in many television series throughout the 1970s. In 1972, he played Johnny in a TV movie titled ‘A Great American Tragedy.’ In 1975, he was seen in another TV movie titled ‘Death Scream.’ In 1981, he played Dr. Russell in Jerry London-directed television movie ‘The Ordeal of Bill Carney.’
In 1983, he reprised his role as Wally Cleaver in Steven Hilliard Stern-directed television film ‘Still the Beaver’ which was a spin-off of the series ‘Leave It to Beaver.’ In the same year, he was also seen in a couple of series, namely ‘Knight Rider’ and ‘Quincy M.E.’ He also played Principal Pete Kinney in Rod Amateau-directed TV movie ‘High School U.S.A.’
In 1983, he reprised his role as Wally Cleaver in ‘The New Leave It to Beaver’ which is a sequel to the original series ‘Leave It to Beaver.’ The sequel was aired from March 19, 1983 to June 4, 1989 and Dow reprised his role from 1983 to 1989, appearing in 101 episodes. He also directed five episodes of the series. Meanwhile, he appeared in other television series, such as ‘The New Mike Hammer,’ ‘Murder, She Wrote,’ ‘The Love Boat,’ ‘Jesse Hawkes,’ and ‘Charles in Charge.’
Tony Dow started focusing on his directorial career in the early-90s. From 1990 to 1993, he directed five episodes of a sci-fi television series titled ‘Swamp Thing.’ From 1990 to 1997, he directed 12 episodes of the popular sitcom ‘Coach’ which was aired on ‘ABC’ television network. From 1991 to 1992, he directed six episodes of American sitcom ‘Harry and the Hendersons’ which was based on the film of the same name.
In 1995, he produced a television film titled ‘The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space.’ The following year, he bankrolled another TV film titled ‘It Came from Outer Space II.’ From 1997 to 1998, he directed multiple episodes of television series, such as ‘Babylon 5’ and ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show.’
Dow returned to acting in 1998 when he played an important role in Adam Friedman-directed documentary film ‘Playing Patti.’ The following year, he directed an episode titled ‘Field of Fire’ in the popular TV series ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.’ He then directed a couple of episodes of ‘TNT’ network’s series ‘Crusade.’ In 2000, he directed a TV movie documentary titled ‘Child Stars: Their Story.’
In 2015, he played Marty in a short film titled ‘Lucky Day.’ In the same year, he was cast to play Max Redford in one of the episodes of ‘Suspense.’ In 2016, he played Fitzhugh in the same series. In 2018, he made a guest appearance in a TV series titled ‘Find Your Future Reality.’
Dow is currently working as a modern-art sculptor. In December 2008, one of his sculptures was displayed at ‘Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts’ in Paris, France. His bronze sculpture displayed in Paris was titled ‘Unarmed Warrior.’
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Family & Personal Life
Tony Dow’s father John Stevens Dow, Jr. worked as a general contractor and designer. His mother Muriel Virginia Dow was a stunt performer who worked as actress Clara Bow’s body double.
Dow dated Carol Marie Theresa Marlow before marrying her on June 14, 1969. On March 26, 1973, Marlow and Dow were blessed with a son named Christopher T. Dow. After divorcing Carol Marlow on March 10, 1980, Dow married Lauren Shulkind on June 16, 1980. Dow and Shulkind had a child and are currently married.
In the 1990s, he spoke about fighting clinical depression. He has also appeared in several videos, chronicling his fight against clinical depression. One such video titled ‘Beating the Blues’ was released in 1998.