Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers were like real brothers behind the scenes
Mathers often went to Dow for advice.
After spending six seasons and six years together, it’s not surprising to learn that actors Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers developed a brotherly bond while filming Leave It to Beaver. However, you might be interested in learning that camaraderie developed fairly early in their working relationship.
In a 1959 article with The Morning Call, Norman Tokar, who directed many early episodes of Leave It to Beaver, said of the pair, “It’s almost as if they were real brothers.” He explained, “Tony is a younger brother in real life, but to see him and Jerry off-camera, you’d think he was born to the role of protector rather than that of the protected youngster.”
In an interview with The Reporter Dispatch, an older Dow begged to differ. He said, "I'm a younger brother instead of an older brother. Wally is so much more conservative, more solid. I live in a small place with my wife. We don't have dinner at the same time every night. I don't fit into the stereotypical father type of role. I'm more of a friend with my son." In the same interview, Mathers commented, "It's funny because Tony, in a lot of ways, might be closer to The Beaver."
Jerry Mathers also apparently went to Dow for brotherly mentorship in more serious matters, like his professional career. Specifically, Tokar said, “For instance, advice about scouting.” Still, despite their immense fame from the show, Mathers and Dow were still able to keep their childhood upbeat and interesting. The article stated, “Jerry, who is just getting out of the cub ranks, relied on Tony’s tips on what merit badges to try for, what to take on hikes, and so on.”
Ever the older brother, Dow was also keen to teach Mathers how to dive. Tokar said, “An expert in the water, Tony dives and swims with the grace of a seal. He is patiently starting Jerry with instruction on simple dives and plans later to teach him more complicated turns and flips.” Of the experience, Jerry Mathers said, “Tony sure knows some neat tricks. If I get to be half as good as he is, I’ll be pretty good.” In response, Tony Dow said, “Jerry is learning. He’s going to be one of the best.”