Silver Screen Artists

GEE WALLY! 4 Year Old Tony Dow on the Cover of Woman's Journal from 1951!

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Awww...what's better than seeing America's older brother, Wally Cleaver, on the cover of Woman's Journal from 1951? Tony Dow, as a child, 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... 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! Also, pertaining to the Catalina Islands, Jerry Mathers and his family often joined the Dows for vacations and getaways on the Catalinas and the boys spent countless hours playing and bonding in the water...as "real-life" brothers just might do! 

 

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So even at a very young age, pre "Leave it to Beaver" days, Tony Dow was already lighting up the scene with that charasmatic smile and timeless grace! Here in 2016 we know what Tony has accomplished (and continues to accomplish!) but there was just something about this little boy out in California that stood out from the rest. Certainly his career has been long and nothing short of amazing and it was almost as if fate stepped in on li5ttle 4 year old Tony. It was only a matter of time before something shook in the young world of toddler Tony...and what a shaking it would be! A visiting artist was quick to catch onto this and something pretty magical happened! This adorable portrait was painted by Eileen Chandler when Tony was just under 4 years old! When artist Eileen Chandler first visited the United States she found residence in a Hollywood studio and began painting children of Hollywood. 

 

 

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However this case was a little different...Chandler had seen Tony Dow swimming and noticed right away that there was something different about this boy! Barely 4 years old and he was swimming under water "like a fish" as she put it! The adorable portrait was first exhibited in Los Angeles and it won the popularity prize of the month!
 

A little bit about artist Eileen Chandler...

AS AN 18-year-old art student, Eileen Harris was invited to spend six months as guest of a friend whose father held the post of Governor in what was then Palestine and under British rule. The series of superb watercolours painted by her at this time would be enough to secure for her a place in history.

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Eight years later, in 1930, the brilliant watercolourist married a successful illustrator, Roland Chandler, but was left a widow in the Second World War. With a small daughter to provide for, Eileen Chandler began to make use of her talents by painting portraits, mainly of children. An article in Illustrated London News launched her on a successful career that took her to Hollywood, painting sensitive, charming watercolour portraits of the children of the stars, and many of the stars themselves. Her child subjects included Sheridan Morley, Bamber Gascoigne and Liza Minnelli. From 1943 she was domiciled in Hampstead, but made regular and frequent visits to other parts of the world, where she was always in great demand. She moved latterly to Putney, to be nearer her family. Eileen passed away in 1993 but her legacy will forever live on...(Excerpt From independent.co.uk on Eileen Chandler)

 

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~The original painting hangs proudly in the home of Tony Dow...A cherished memory for sure and certainly a priceless piece. The copy of the Woman's Journal (seen above) is one of Dow's actual copies of the magazine...It's pretty amazing that artist Eileen Chandler sort of found Tony before the cameras did...We tip our hats to the talented life and works of Eileen Chandler and the amazing career of swimmer, actor, director, writer, artist...Tony Dow. As you can imagine Tony Dow's Topanga California residence is simply a gorgeous retreat loaded with artwork and memorabilia from his decades of being both in front of the camera and behind it! From the memories that are strewn about his property to the more contemporary visual art installations his house is truly a wonder to behold and all of the credit goes to Tony and his wife Lauren. Team Dow has built a sanctuary in the hills of sunny Topanga California...a place to live, work, relax and play! And yes, his amazing wood workshop is right on his property! But of all of his possessions I would be willing to bet that this painting, the one from the cover of the magazine, is one of his most prized possessions! Just a guess...but I feel it's pretty accurate!

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