Tony Dow explained how ''Leave It to Beaver'' took Wally out of the title

Dow was more central to the series than some gave him credit for.

NBC/Universal

Not everybody can be the star of the show. Top billing is sought-after for a reason, mostly because only one name can be the biggest. While everyone's contribution is important, there will always only be one main character.

Cheers is an ensemble, but Sam is the hero. M*A*S*H may rely on the breadth of its cast, but Hawkeye Pierce is your guy. Sure, some shows de-centralize the focus, spreading the responsibility of anchoring the show across multiple characters. But an audience needs someone to hang their hat on. We need a surrogate to shepherd us through the action. Usually, if a character's name is in the show's title, that's our star.

Tony Dow was born in Hollywood. His mother, Muriel Montrose, was a double for Clara Bow, one of the era's biggest "it" girls. That kind of industry-insider positioning may seem like a slam dunk for young Tony Dow, but, growing up, he was far more interested in swimming.

In his youth, Dow focused on winning diving championships instead of acting. In fact, his family was planning to move to Hawaii when he was cast on Leave It to Beaver. While Dow fits so naturally on the program as Wally Cleaver, his only other acting experience at the time was in a pilot that didn't sell.

In Leave It to Beaver, Dow felt his character carried enough to be seen as the main character. After all, Wally played a crucial role within his family. He was a child to Ward and June, his parents, but he was a grownup, too, at least in the eyes of his kid brother, the Beaver.

"The original title was The Adventures of Wally and Beaver," Dow told Richard Lamparski, author of the Whatever Became Of—? series. "They changed it because someone felt it sounded like a boy and his pet. But the stories revolved as much around me as Jerry [Mathers, who played the Beaver]."

What do you think of the situation? Should the show have been called The Adventures of Wally and Beaver? Would it have had the same impact with the lengthier title? Let us know in the comment section below!

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13 Comments

WGH 6 days ago
Leave it to Beaver rhymes and is memorable.
AnnieM 7 days ago
'The Adventures of Wally & Beaver' sounds too much like a serial from the Mickey Mouse Club!
Bapa1 9 days ago
They should have done it like 'Lost in Space'. "With Special Guest Star Tony Dow as Wally.'
Lillyrose 9 days ago
Leave it to Beaver is a perfect name for the show. I can't imagine it any other way.
Runeshaper 10 days ago
The title of The Adventures of Wally and Beaver isn't as catchy as Leave it to Beaver, but the show could have been called Leave it to Beavers. That's still catchy, IMO.
KawiVulc 10 days ago
Acually, Pierce is one of the reasons I don't watch MASH.
WGH KawiVulc 6 days ago
That's the influence of Alan Alda. The first season is really funny. The next two are kind of funny. After that it's all liberal preaching.
McGillahooala 10 days ago
You can’t really mention every cast member in the title. It wasn’t the actor’s name anyway. He likely gave this interview as a child.
LoveMETV22 10 days ago
Think " Leave It to Beaver" was a good name for the show. However in respect to Tony Dow's part a "Leave It to Wally" clip.

https://youtu.be/PiiI-3EerwU?si=nLOMjxAf2sLJZyr0

Love your picture on here, don't hit me you know I'm not normal. Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk
I like LoveMETV22's profile pic too!
Love the new pic.
WGH FrankensteinLover 6 days ago
Me too.

Woo woo woo!
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