For those of us of a certain age (older), the news that actor and director Tony Dow turned 70 on Monday sent a fine little chill up our spines. You may recall Tony Dow as “Wally” in the pretty-much-dreadful-yet-iconic 1960s sitcom “Leave It To Beaver,” which featured two Eisenhower/Kennedy-era regular boys growing up in a regular home in a regular house in a regular neighborhood.
It’s not Dow’s fault that he turned 70, nor is it on Dow to make anyone feel better about the growing realization that the baby boom, too, must roll credits at some point. Although it’s a little hard on the Beaver, we must soldier on like little goofs. Kinda, sorta.
Eddie Haskell – or rather, the actor Ken Osmond – is now over 70 as well, but he showed manipulative wisdom far beyond his years during “Leave It To Beaver.” What with his cloying greetings to June Cleaver and his penchant for getting Wally and Beaver into trouble, Eddie then teed up a nice episode-concluding sermon by father Ward.
Watching baby boomer icons age and go down is hard enough. For the most part, it’s been the parents and grandparents in these shows that have moved on to syndication, shall we say.
When the children in these shows start showing frays, though, it’s time to reassess. Jerry Mathers is 68, no spring chicken. Patty Duke is also 68 (our Patty loves to rock and roll and a hot dog makes her lose control, still). Jon Provost – Timmy on “Lassie” – is 65. Jay North, who played Dennis on “Dennis the Menace,” is 63. Butch Patrick, “Eddie Munster,” is a relatively kicky 61. Barry Williams, “Greg Brady,” is 60.
Oh, yeah. Are you sitting down? David Cassidy of “The Partridge Family” just turned 65. Come on, get happy. Or at least enroll in Medicare.
These childhood actors and actresses all were boomer snapshots of the way we weren’t, but the way we wanted to be. In black-and-white television with mandatory rabbit ears, and later on our large Magnavox color consoles, they portrayed kids. Now they portray us as we really are.
Getting up there.
Gee, Wally. Thanks.