The U.S. military kept Tony Dow off TV
His career never really reached those same heights again.
Tony Dow, Wally from Leave It to Beaver should've been a hot commodity in 1967. When Beaver wrapped in '63, Dow was a household name; he was the face of good-spirited, rule-following adolescence. Everything was lined up in his favor to capitalize on his earlier series. Would he have his own show? Would a more serious gig be ahead? The future was bright for Tony Dow, but instead, he ended up on Game O Names.
"It's a great game to play, but I don't do very well. I'm just not a good game player," said Dow. If you can't remember Game O Names, you're not alone. Despite being referred to by both Dow and the journalist in a 1967 interview with The Wichita Beacon, it seems like the local game show has very little internet presence, with no IMDb entry or Wikipedia page. Even a thorough Google search reveals very few clues about what the show was. So why didn't Dow land a more memorable, more prestigious series post-Beaver?
The answer was, surprisingly, the military-industrial complex.
Like many young men throughout history, Tony Dow's life was interrupted by a war.
"I can't sign for a series or a movie or anything until the Army decides what it's going to do with me. More than a year and a half ago, the draft board told me I would be called soon for six months' duty. I'm still waiting."
It seems like, at least according to them, Uncle Sam needed Dow more than television viewers. It seems his "Gee shucks" demeanor was just the thing America needed during the War in Vietnam. From 1965 to 1968, Dow served in the California Army National Guard. At the time of the interview, he didn't know what they had in store for him, but eventually, Dow was assigned to the Special Services division and served in the 40th Armored Division as a photographer.