Jul 22, 2017

Gay Dating Stories with Tony Dow

When I lived in West Hollywood, everybody had a favorite celebrity dating story, told at parties and to impress first dates.   I often heard about current stars, like Rob Lowe, Matthew Broderick, Tom Cruise, Tony Danza, and Sylvester Stallone, and occasionally stars from previous generations, like Tony Curtis and Tommy Kirk.

But never anything about Tony Dow.

In retrospect, this seems strange. Tony Dow played Wally, Beaver's teenage brother in the iconic nuclear family sitcom Leave It to Beaver (1957-1963).  He was a gifted athlete who had no qualms about displaying his physique on camera.  He was the first crush of countless thousands of Baby Boomer boys, giving them their first inklings that same-sex desire and romance can exist.

He was very visible in the 1980s, playing a middle-aged Wally on a continuation of the series, The New Leave It to Beaver.  And he has remained visible since, playing endless parodies of Wally and the Beaver, acting, directing, writing, being interviewed, forging a new career as a sculptor.  He has remained a quiet, calm presence throughout our lives.

Sure, he is probably straight -- married from 1969 to the present, with no gay rumors to speak of.  But that never stopped guys from spinning a hookup story out of a chance meeting.  Why were they so reticent?

I shot out emails to all of my West Hollywood, San Francisco, and New York friends, asking if they or anybody they knew had a story about dating or hooking up with Tony Dow.  I got a few leads.

1. Rich Correll and Harold Lloyd Jr.  Will the Bondage Boy had a friend named Jason, who dated Rich Correll during the 1970s.

Born in 1948, so three years younger than Tony Dow, Correll played Beaver's best friend Richard on Leave It to Beaver.  They were best friends in real life, too. Later Rich became a writer and director, known for Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and other Disney channel teencoms.

"Did Rich Correll ever date Tony Dow?" I asked via email.

"That story never came up, but Jason did tell me that Rich dated [silent film star] Harold Lloyd's son as a young teen.  He liked rough trade, and wanted Rich to beat and strangle him. Then one night he had a stroke, which he never recovered from.  That's why Rich refused to do S&M."

Harold Lloyd Jr., born in 1931, was indeed gay, and into rough trade.  The other details work out.  But this story didn't get me any closer to Tony Dow.

2. Tommy Rettig

Tommy Rettig (back) was born in 1941 and  acted steadily through his childhood,notably in Lassie (1954-57).  He and Tony Dow became friends in the early 1960s, and starred together in Never Too Young (1965-66).

Tom and his wife Darlene were deeply involved in the youth counterculture: drugs, rock music, protest, free love. They were both bisexual, and often brought in third partners, both male and female.

 After a drug bust in 1976, the couple split up.  Tom moved to Malibu and became a motivational speaker and author.  He moved into the computer industry in the early 1980s, becoming a recognized expert in dBase and FoxPro.

The full story, with nude photos and sexual situations,is on Tales of West Hollywood.

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