“Leave It To Beaver” Star Reveals He’s Been Struggling With Mental Illness

(FiveNation.com)- Former child actor Tony Dow appeared on CBS Sunday Morning to open up about his battle with depression.

Dow, who once played Wally Cleaver in the classic TV series “Leave it to Beaver,” said after the series ended, his sadness was replaced with anger, leading to an emotional struggle he said plagued him for years.

Dow explained that anger left untreated turns into depression. And his depression had an impact on the rest of his life. He tried medication and therapy to help him deal with it. He said pursuing his love of art helped to give him a sense of purpose. By now, at age 76, Dow said he finally has his depression under control.

Dow believes that sharing his own experience with depression may help others struggling with it to reach out for help.

Dow also discussed how he initially believed his character on “Leave it to Beaver” wouldn’t define him as he got older, but ultimately it did. He said he was going to have to live with Wally Cleaver for the rest of his life.

He said it was sad being famous at 12-years-old then growing up and becoming an adult and “nothing’s happening to you.”

If the role feels right, Dow still occasionally takes acting jobs. And as for Wally Cleaver, Dow said he doesn’t feel haunted by him anymore. It took him until his forties to realize what a great show “Leave it to Beaver” was and how appreciative he should be that he was part of it.

“Leave it to Beaver” premiered in 1957 and ran until 1963. It chronicled the life of a young suburban boy and his family and friends. It starred Jerry Mathers as the Beave, Dow as his brother, and Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont as the longsuffering parents.