Tony Dow, the actor known for playing Wally Cleaver in Leave It To Beaver, died on July 27, 2022. The child star went on to bigger and better projects in his life after the sitcom ended, but he also fell into a serious depression. Thankfully, Tony Dow’s wife, Lauren Shulkind, helped him through his dark mental health days.
‘Leave It To Beaver’ star Tony Dow experienced depression after the show
Leave It to Beaver star Tony Dow never was able to shake his image as the young Wally Cleaver. The star talked about his experience on the show, and while he enjoyed many of the people he worked with, it wasn’t always easy. While speaking to CBS Sunday Morning, he explained how he wanted to do other projects that had nothing to do with the sitcom, but he felt stuck.
“It’s sad to be famous at 12 years old or something, and then you grow up and become a real person and nothing’s happened for you,” Dow explained. “Anger, if it’s untreated, anger turns into depression. The depression isn’t something you can say, ‘cheer up,’ about. It’s a very powerful thing. It’s had a lot of effect on my life.”
Dow noted he had a handle on his depression, and he encouraged others to “take a leap of faith that they can feel better.”
Tony Dow’s wife, Lauren Shulkind, helped him with his depression
Tony Dow’s wife, Lauren Shulkind, married him in 1980, giving the couple over 40 years of marriage. She’s an artist, much like her husband. While speaking to CBS Sunday Morning, she gave more context about Dow’s depression.
“I’m very proud of him for talking about it, for dealing with it, and for sharing it with others,” she told the interviewer. Shulkind greatly helped Dow through the years as he dealt with the aftereffects of childhood fame. They share an art studio, and she explained how art has been the “best thing” for Dow.
“I think there’s a lot of Tony in the character,” she said, regarding Tony and Wally Cleaver. “They’re intertwined. Wally was very much like Tony.”
Dow agrees that art and therapy have greatly assisted him in his mental health.
The ‘Leave It To Beaver’ actor advises aspiring actors to not go into showbusiness
Tony Dow’s wife, son, and art no doubt assisted him in his mental health journey throughout his lifetime. When another interviewer, shared by Muza TV on YouTube, asked Dow if he had any advice for young actors in showbusiness, Dow advised against the actors ever starting their Hollywood careers in the first place.
“Well, I probably would say don’t,” Dow said of potential future actors hoping to catch their big break. “But if you’ve got it in your blood and you’ve got to do it, just get a little training. Get used to community acting, or school, and go for it. There’s a tremendous number of show that are on nowadays. The chances of getting something are a lot better than they were 50 years ago.”
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