Silver Screen Artists

TONY DOW: TV's Wally Cleaver Carves a New Future through Sculpture!

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Often times when we think about the TV shows that we watched growing up we, in our own way, typecast the idols of our youth and forever hold them in this menagerie of neatly tucked character portrayals. Whether it be a child star that was just bursting onto the scene or a seasoned veteran of the game these iconic figures helped shape who we were in way or another. Maybe some people don't like to admit it but we truly are products of our environment. What we surround ourselves by seeps into who we it or not. As children, we all had some characters that we looked up to...our "go tos" when our homework was done and we were allotted a little "TV Time".  When we look back to the great "forefather" shows it is pretty tough to overlook the cornerstone program, Leave it to Beaver. There were only 6 seasons of this iconic show, 234 episodes, but the impression will surely last a lifetime. The show entered our living rooms at such a pivotal point in time. A time where change was on the horizon yet old school morale was still going strong. Looking back at the extensive cast list of Leave it to Beaver helps concrete the notion of this show being a timeless masterpiece. There was a constant stream of talent gracing the sets, even beyond the “regulars”. The show shed a light a small town, Anytown, USA and reminded everyone of the normal that truly can exist in life. The dynamics were pretty stable and this is one of the reasons that the show still weighs in heavy with its fans as we sit here in 2016.

As mentioned, we (the viewer) had our own way of typecasting these iconic characters but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they were typecasted in real life! Take for instance, Tony Dow. For many people the name “Tony Dow” brings us right back to that wonderful theme music during the opening credits…hearing the name “Tony Dow” while the tune Toy Soldiers played meant that we were about to see good ‘ol WALLY CLEAVER in action. Getting into all sorts of pickles with Eddie Haskell and the Beaver. Wally Cleaver was a household name…as was “the Beaver”.  But Tony Dow was anything but typecasted as Wally Cleaver. In short, Dow had a tremendous career in the “biz”…basically, he never stopped! Some of the other “child actors” from the show did a few other things but certainly dealt with the typecasting label. Tony’s career lead him down a glorious highway of opportunity filled with endless gigs both in front of and behind the camera. We all know that he was quite the amazing actor but he also had quite the illustrious career as a director, producer, writer and visual effects supervisor! Pretty impressive! 

However, the focus for this article (believe it or not) is not on Leave it to Beaver…or Wally Cleaver…or acting in general! The focus here is on artwork. Artwork??  Tony Dow had always expressed an interest in the visual arts. He grew up around very creative and productive parents. The arts were always present and he surely dabbled in his share of different mediums since childhood. Everything from acting, writing, performing, painting and…SCULPTING! There we hit the nail on the head! We have gathered today to discuss Tony’s sculpting prowess! It was decades ago that Tony first found his love for sculpting but it was purely a mission driven by passion. Time for sculpture surely was not on his side for he was very busy with show business and everything that one might expect from that sort of lifestyle. Simply put, he just did not have the time to pursue the visual arts as a full time venture. It wasn’t until 2008 that this passion sort of segued into a reality. One of Tony’s pieces was on its way to the Louvre in Paris!  Dow's bronze abstract sculpture of a woman holding a shield, titled "Unarmed Warrior," was selected as part of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, an annual judged exhibition that dates back more than 100 years! Now it was time to take this all a little more seriously! 

 “When I was a teenager, I did some painting and collaging and some assemblages and stuff like that,” says the soft-spoken Hollywood native. “I went to UCLA and took some art classes, which I found mostly useless.”


Now we fast forward to Tony moving into soft “retirement” from the show biz world. Nestled in the gorgeous hills of Topanga California Tony and his beautiful wife Lauren created an artists’ paradise. They had purchased a “cookie cutter” home decades prior and over the years built up their residence to accommodate everything that they loved and everything that was dear to them. The best part about this property (besides its second to none beauty) is that Tony and Lauren did most of the work themselves! They were the designers, contractors and laborers. It truly was a labor of love and it shows! Tony’s wood workshop is right on his property and most of the wood that he uses for his sculptures is found in the hills of Topanga Canyon…by Tony! He finds fallen trees and that is where he harvests his burl from! Most of his wood sculptures are made out of this found burl wood…and he also does a lot of bronze work but even the bronze work starts with a burl sculpture! Tony is very busy with his sculptural work and is currently represented by Silver Screen Artists. He has taken part in several exhibitions where a bunch of his beautiful sculptures were displayed. These shows usually included a handful of other celebrity artists such as Eve Plumb (Jan from the Brady Bunch!), Billy Dee Williams, Burt Young, Tina Louise, Ferdie Pacheco and many more! We had the honor of sitting down with Tony and he explained a little bit about his passion…and let us know about his thumb and a table saw!

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