Silver Screen Artists

Exclusive Childhood Photos from TONY DOW'S Personal Archives: TV's Wally Cleaver!

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Tony Dow (TV's WALLY CLEAVER!) was born in Hollywood, California, to John Stevens, a designer and general contractor, and Muriel Virginia Dow (née Montrose) (May 27, 1906–April 30, 2001). Tony's mom was a stunt woman in early Westerns and Clara Bow's movie double in Hollywood. In his youth, Dow was a Junior Olympics diving champion and spent most of his time growing up in the water! Since the early age of 3 he can swim with the best of them and was surely catching the attention of everyone around him! The picture below shows the Dows arriving at Davenport ...look at how young and adorable Tony was!

 

YOUTH-Davenport

 

The adorable picture below was taken when the Tony and his parents arrived in Hawaii! Tony's focus as a child was definitely centered around aquatic ventures and trampoline competitions! He loved diving and being airborn. He won several awards in these categories and it was swimming that lead him to his famous role as WALLY CLEAVER!

 

YOUTH-Hawaii

 

Tony Dow was a skilled athlete who won numerous swimming and diving awards. He was a Junior Olympics diving champion. In 1957, however, his life change irrevocably when he was selected for the part of the older brother, Wallace "Wally" Cleaver, in a new television sitcom called Leave it to Beaver. The series debuted on CBS on October 4, 1957 and it chronicled the everyday foibles of the Cleaver family of Mayfield, U.S.A.

(This letter is from Tony's personal archives... priceless!)

 

YOUTH-press

 

Check out little 4 year old Tony Dow with his swim instructor Eliot Ness Bengston.  Bengston was a very popular competition swimmer and a instructor to many people in the Hollywood area. She took a particular shine to young Tony Dow! They spent a lot of time together and she sure knew about Tony's talent... way before many others did! The picture next to 4yo Tony is Dow on a motor boat off the Catalina Islands! His family had a cottage there and vacationed there often!

 

YOUTH-swimming-boat

 

(photo from Tony's personal archives!)

Speaking of the Catalina islands... Check out this photo! The picture on the left shows Tony Dow welcoming a very young (8yo) Jerry Mathers to his cottage on the island! What's VERY special about this photo? Well, here we see the two boys and their moms in the picture! Yes! That is Tony's mom with the hat welcoming Jerry Mathers' mom to the cottage!

 

YOUTH-8yo-beaver

 

The two boys spent a lot of time together beyond the set of Leave it to Beaver! Despite their age difference they developed a strong friendship that has lasted throughout the decades! This is true of other cast members also! Just goes to show how amazing of a cast Leave it to Beaver really had!

 

YOUTH-swimming-1280

 

~Check out some of the HIP -HAPPENINGS going on in these magazines from yesteryear! Tony was always around the water and even helped younger kids feel safe and confident around the water. Already a role model in his teens! If Wally Cleaver is going to help you swim you learn quickly!

 

Tony-Tramploine

 

Tony continued with the high dive competitions years after acting entered into his life. But eventually acting and everything Hollywood became the main focus. Tony has been around water since he came into this world and, in 2016, it remains a passion! Below we see him with his grandaughter, Tyla, enjoying an afternoon sail!

 

YOUTH-boat

 

And this is just for fun... Tony purchased this beautiful Vibraphone back when he was just 16 years old!  Today in 2016 he still has his original vibes and they are in his gorgeous home in Topanga California! And they still sound great!!

 

YOUTH-xylophone

 

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