Dick Van Dyke

Dick Van Dyke
Dick Van Dyke

Van Dyke in December 2007
Born Richard Wayne Van Dyke
December 13, 1925 (1925-12-13) (age 85)
West Plains, Missouri, U.S.
Residence Malibu, California
Nationality American
Education Danville High School
Occupation Actor, comedian, producer, writer
Years active 1955–present
Home town Danville, Illinois
Television The Dick Van Dyke Show,
Diagnosis: Murder
Religion Presbyterian
Spouse Margie Willett (1948–84) (divorced)
Partner Michelle Triola (1976–2009) (her death)
Relatives Jerry Van Dyke (brother),
Barry Van Dyke (son),
Shane Van Dyke (grandson)
Awards Disney Legend (1998)

Richard Wayne "Dick" Van Dyke (born December 13, 1925) is an American actor, comedian, writer, and producer with a career spanning six decades.[1] He is the older brother of Jerry Van Dyke, and father of Barry Van Dyke. Van Dyke starred in the films Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the television series The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Diagnosis: Murder.[1] Van Dyke has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.[2]


Life and career

Early and personal life

Van Dyke was born in West Plains, Missouri, to Loren (nickname "Cookie") and Hazel (born McCord) Van Dyke, but he grew up in Danville, Illinois. He is the older brother of actor Jerry Van Dyke, who is best known for his role on the TV series Coach. His grandson, Shane Van Dyke, is also an actor, and directed Titanic II. He is of Dutch descent on his father's side. His mother, as a Mayflower descendant, is of English extraction but also carries additional Scottish ancestry.[citation needed]

During World War II, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps where he became a radio announcer and served in Special Services entertaining troops in the Continental United States.[3] While Van Dyke appeared at the Chapman Park Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, he and the former Margerie Willett were married on the radio show Bride and Groom in 1948.[4] They had four children: Christian (Chris), Barry, Carrie Beth, and Stacy.[1] They divorced in 1984 after a long separation. He lived with longtime companion Michelle Triola for more than 30 years until her death in 2009.[5][6] Van Dyke's son Barry Van Dyke and grandsons Shane Van Dyke and Carey Van Dyke are also actors; both of these last two, along with other Van Dyke relations and grandchildren, appeared in various episodes of the long-running series Diagnosis: Murder. All of Van Dyke's children are married, and he has seven grandchildren. His son Chris was district attorney for Marion County, Oregon in the 1980s.[7] In 1987, his granddaughter Jessica Van Dyke died from Reye's Syndrome[8] which drove him to do a series of television commercials to raise public awareness of the danger of aspirin to children. In 2010, he said he had once been rescued from drifting out to sea and possible death by a pod of porpoises.[9]

Radio and stage career

During the late 1940s, Van Dyke was a radio DJ in Danville, Illinois. In 1947, Van Dyke was persuaded by Phil Erickson to form a comedy duo with him called "Eric and Van—the Merry Mutes."[10] The team toured the West Coast nightclub circuit, performing a mime act and lip synching to old 78 records. They brought their act to Atlanta, Georgia, in the early 1950s and performed a local television show featuring original skits and music called "The Merry Mutes".[11]

On the stage, Van Dyke was the lead in Broadway's Bye Bye Birdie. In a May 2011 interview with Rachael Ray, Van Dyke noted that when he auditioned for a smaller part in the show he had no dance experience, and that after he sang his audition song he did an impromptu soft-shoe out of sheer nervousness. Gower Champion, the show's director and choreographer, was watching, and promptly went up on stage to inform Van Dyke he had the lead. An astonished Van Dyke protested that he could not dance, to which Champion replied "We'll teach you". That musical won four Tony awards including Van Dyke's Best Featured Actor Tony, in 1961.[12] In 1980, Van Dyke appeared as the title role in The Music Man on Broadway.[citation needed]

Television career

Dick Van Dyke's start in television was with WDSU-TV New Orleans Channel 6 (NBC), first as a single comedian and later as emcee of a comedy program.[13] Van Dyke's first network TV appearance was with Dennis James on James' Chance of a Lifetime in 1954. He later appeared on The Phil Silvers Show in the 1957–8 season.[14] He also appeared early in his career on ABC's The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom and NBC's The Polly Bergen Show. During this time a friend from the Army was working as an executive for CBS television and recommended Van Dyke to that network. Out of this came a seven year contract with the network.[4] During an interview on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! program, Van Dyke said he was the anchorman for the CBS morning show during this period with Walter Cronkite as his newsman.[15]

Van Dyke starred in the situation comedy The Dick Van Dyke Show on CBS from 1961 to 1966, in which he portrayed a comedy writer named Rob Petrie. Originally the show was supposed to have Carl Reiner as the lead but CBS insisted on recasting and Reiner chose Van Dyke to replace him in the role.[4] Complementing Van Dyke was a veteran cast of comic actors including Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Jerry Paris, Ann Morgan Guilbert, and Carl Reiner (as Alan Brady), as well as television newcomer Mary Tyler Moore, who played Rob's wife, Laura Petrie. Van Dyke won three Emmy Awards as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and the series received four Emmy Awards as Outstanding Comedy Series.[16]

From 1971 to 1974 Van Dyke starred in an unrelated sitcom called The New Dick Van Dyke Show in which he starred as a local television talk show host. He received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance but the show was less successful than its predecessor,[17] and Van Dyke pulled the plug on the show after just three seasons.[18] In 1973 Van Dyke voiced his animated likeness for the October 27, 1973 installment of Hanna-Barbera's The New Scooby-Doo Movies, "Scooby-Doo Meets Dick Van Dyke," the series' final first-run episode. The following year, he received an Emmy Award nomination for his role as an alcoholic businessman in the television movie The Morning After (1974). Van Dyke revealed after its release that he had recently overcome a real-life drinking problem. That same year he guest-starred as a murdering photographer on an episode of Columbo. Van Dyke returned to comedy in 1976 with the sketch comedy show Van Dyke and Company,[19] which co-starred Andy Kaufman[20] and Super Dave Osborne. Despite being canceled after three months, the show won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy-Variety Series.[citation needed] When Carol Burnett's main foil, Harvey Korman, quit Burnett's long-running variety series in 1977 Van Dyke took his place. This was the first time he had ever played second banana on television and there were few comic sparks between Van Dyke and Burnett. He left after three months. For the next decade he appeared mostly in low-rated TV movies.[citation needed] One exception was an atypical role as a murdering judge on the first episode of the TV series Matlock in 1986 starring Andy Griffith. In 1989 he guest-starred on the NBC comedy series The Golden Girls portraying a lover of Beatrice Arthur's character. This role earned him his first Emmy Award nomination since 1977.[citation needed]

His film work affected his TV career: the reviews he received for his role as D.A. Fletcher in Dick Tracy led him to star first as the character Dr. Mark Sloan in an episode of Jake and the Fatman,[21] then in a series of TV movies on CBS that became the foundation for his popular television drama Diagnosis: Murder. The series ran from 1993 to 2001 with son Barry Van Dyke co-starring. Van Dyke continued to find television work after the show ended, including a dramatically and critically successful performance of The Gin Game, produced for television in 2003 that reunited him with Mary Tyler Moore. In 2003 he portrayed a doctor on Scrubs.[22] A 2004 special of The Dick Van Dyke Show titled The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited was heavily promoted as the first new episode of the classic series to be shown in 38 years. Van Dyke and his surviving cast members recreated their roles; the program was roundly panned by critics. In 2006 he guest-starred as college professor Dr. Jonathan Maxwell for a series of Murder 101 mystery films on the Hallmark Channel.

Film career

Van Dyke began his film career by reprising his stage role in the film version of Bye Bye Birdie (1963). Despite his unhappiness with the adaptation—its focus differed from the stage version—[23] the film was a success. That same year, Van Dyke was cast in two roles: as the chimney sweep Bert, and as Mr. Dawes Senior, the chairman of the bank in Walt Disney's Mary Poppins (1964). For his scenes as the chairman, he was heavily costumed to look much older, and was credited in that role as "Nackvid Keyd" (at the end of the credits, the letters unscramble into "Dick Van Dyke"). Van Dyke's attempt at a cockney accent has been decried as one of the worst accents in film history, cited as an example by actors since as an example of how not to sound. In a 2003 poll by Empire magazine of the worst-ever accents in film, he came in second.[24][25] According to Van Dyke, his accent coach was Irish, who "didn't do an accent any better than I did."[26][27] Still, Mary Poppins was successful upon release and its enduring appeal has made it one of the most famous films of all time. "Chim Chim Cher-ee", one of the songs that Van Dyke performed in Mary Poppins, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for the Sherman Brothers, the film's songwriting duo.

Many of the comedy films Van Dyke starred in throughout the 1960s were relatively unsuccessful at the box office, including What a Way to Go!, Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N., Fitzwilly, The Art of Love, Some Kind of a Nut, Never a Dull Moment, and Divorce American Style. But he also starred (with his native accent, despite the English setting) in the successful musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), which co-starred Sally Ann Howes and featured songs by the Sherman Brothers, and choreography by Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood. The Sherman Brothers, Breaux, and Wood were also songsmiths and choreographers for Mary Poppins.

In 1969, Van Dyke appeared in the comedy-drama The Comic, written and directed by Carl Reiner. Van Dyke portrayed a self-destructive silent-film era comedian who struggles with alcoholism, depression, and his own rampant ego. Reiner wrote the film especially for Van Dyke, who often spoke of his admiration for silent film era comedians such as Charlie Chaplin and his hero Stan Laurel.[28] Twenty one years later in 1990, Van Dyke, whose usual role had been the amiable hero, took a small but villainous turn as the crooked D.A. Fletcher in Warren Beatty's film Dick Tracy. Van Dyke returned to motion pictures in 2006 with Curious George as Mr. Bloomsberry and as villain Cecil Fredericks in the Ben Stiller film Night at the Museum.[29] He reprised the role in a cameo for the sequel, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian but it was cut from the film. It can be found in the special features on the DVD release.

Other projects

"Van Dyke at the 40th Emmy Awards Rehearsal in August 1988"
At the 40th Emmy Awards Rehearsal, August 1988

Van Dyke received a Grammy Award for his performance on the soundtrack to Mary Poppins.[1] In 1970 he published Faith, Hope and Hilarity: A Child's Eye View of Religion a book of humorous anecdotes based largely on his experiences as a Sunday School teacher.[30] Van Dyke was principal in "KXIV Inc." and owned 1400 AM KXIV in Phoenix (later KSUN) from 1965 to 1985. KXIV was at one time an applicant for an FM station in the same area.[citation needed]

As an a cappella enthusiast, Van Dyke has sung in a group called "The Vantastix" since September 2000. The quartet has performed several times in Los Angeles as well as on Larry King Live, The First Annual TV Land Awards, and sung the national anthem at three Los Angeles Lakers games including a nationally televised NBA Finals performance on NBC. Van Dyke was made an honorary member of the Barbershop Harmony Society in 1999.[31]

Van Dyke became a computer animation enthusiast after purchasing a Commodore Amiga in 1991. He is credited with the creation of 3D-rendered effects used on Diagnosis: Murder and The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited. Van Dyke has displayed his computer-generated imagery work at SIGGRAPH, and continues to work with LightWave 3D.[32][33] In 2010, Van Dyke appeared on a children's album titled Rhythm Train, with Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and singer Leslie Bixler. Van Dyke raps on one of the album's tracks.[34]




  • Bye Bye Birdie (Original Cast Album) (1960)
  • Bye Bye Birdie (Soundtrack) (1963)
  • Songs I Like By Dick Van Dyke (with Enoch Light & his Orchestra/Ray Charles Singers) (1963)
  • Put on a Happy Face (with Dick Van Dyke and The Vantastix) (2008)
  • Rhythm Train (with Leslie Bixler and Chad Smith) (2010)


  • The Girls Against the Boys (November 2, 1959 – November 14, 1959)
  • Bye Bye Birdie (April 14, 1960 – October 7, 1961) (left the show when it moved to the Shubert Theatre)
  • The Music Man (June 5, 1980 – June 22, 1980) (Revival)
  • Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life (guest star from January 24, 2006 – January 26, 2006)


Year Film Role Notes
1963 Bye Bye Birdie Albert Peterson
1964 What a Way to Go! Edgar Hopper
Mary Poppins Bert/Mr. Dawes, Senior Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1965 The Art of Love Paul Sloane/Toulouse aka Picasso
1966 Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. Lt. Robin Crusoe
1967 Divorce American Style Richard Harmon
Fitzwilly Claude R. Fitzwilliam
1968 Never a Dull Moment Jack Albany
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Caractacus Potts
1969 Some Kind of a Nut Fred Amidon
The Comic Billy Bright
1971 Cold Turkey Rev. Clayton Brooks
1976 Tubby the Tuba Tubby the Tuba (voice)
1979 The Runner Stumbles Father Brian Rivard
1990 Dick Tracy D.A. Fletcher
2001 Walt - The Man Behind the Myth narrator/interviewee (voice)
2005 Batman: New Times Commissioner Gordon (voice)
2006 Curious George Mr. Bloomsberry (voice)
Night at the Museum Cecil Fredricks
2009 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Scenes deleted*

*Note: Although he is not seen in the regular release of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Dick van Dyke's work can be seen in the "Deleted Scenes" section of the film's DVD, along with Bill Cobbs and Mickey Rooney.


  • The Morning Show (1955) (host)
  • CBS Cartoon Theater (1956)
  • To Tell the Truth (1956–1957)
  • The Phil Silvers Show (1957)
  • The Chevy Showroom Starring Andy Williams (1958)
  • Mother's Day (1958–1959)
  • Laugh Line (1959) (canceled after 3 months)
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966)
  • "Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman" (1969)
  • "Dick Van Dyke Meets Bill Cosby" (1970)
  • The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971–1974)
  • The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1973)
  • "Julie and Dick at Covent Garden" (1974)
  • The Morning After (1974)
  • Columbo: Negative Reaction (1974)
  • Van Dyke and Company (1976)
  • The Carol Burnett Show (cast member in 1977)
  • Supertrain (1979)
  • The Runner Stumbles (1979)
  • "True Life Stories" (1981)
  • "Harry's Battles" (1981)
  • The Country Girl (1982)
  • Drop-Out Father (1982)
  • Wrong Way Kid (1983) (voice)
  • "Found Money" (1983)
  • "Breakfast with Les and Bess" (1985)


  1. ^ a b c d "Dick Van Dyke Biography". The Internet Movie Database. 2008. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001813/bio. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  2. ^ "Hollywood Walk of Fame". http://www.hollywoodusa.co.uk/walkoffamestarlocations.htm#V.. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  3. ^ Adir, Karin (1988). The Great Clowns of American Television. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 219. ISBN 0899503004. http://books.google.com/books?id=5jr9L--C4tMC&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=The+Great+Clowns+of+American+Television&source=bl&ots=ZRUWtYv_qb&sig=fi45umlnUHEqozjolfIsOOCxo8I&hl=en&ei=CmDNTZDWCay40QHNoKWaDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  4. ^ a b c King, Susan (December 6, 2010). "A Step In Time With Dick Van Dyke". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/06/entertainment/la-et-classic-hollywood-20101206/2. 
  5. ^ O'Connor, Anahad (October 30, 2009). "Michelle Triola Marvin, of Landmark Palimony Suit, Dies at 76". New York Times. 
  6. ^ "Palimony figure Michelle Triola Marvin Dies" (Fee). Globe and Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/palimony-figure-michelle-triola-marvin-dies/article1347805/. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  7. ^ "Pressure of job turns Van Dyke's hair gray". Altus Times (Google News Archive). April 21, 1982. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=2x5DAAAAIBAJ&sjid=qKwMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1125,1321284&dq=chris+van+dyke+marion+county&hl=en. Retrieved 2011-08-03.  Chris Van Dyke prosecuted the so-called I-5 Killer, Randall Woodfield.
  8. ^ "Dick Van Dyke's Charity Work, Events and Causes". Looktothestars.org. http://www.looktothestars.org/celebrity/1733-dick-van-dyke. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  9. ^ Brooks, Xan (2010-11-11). "Porpoises rescue Dick Van Dyke". Guardian News and Media Limited. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/nov/11/dick-van-dyke-porpoises-rescue. Retrieved 2010-11-11. 
  10. ^ http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=vandykedic
  11. ^ "Welcome to Wits' End Productions—Your Figment...Our Imagination!". Wits' End Productions. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  12. ^ "Masterworks Broadway/Dick Van Dyke". Sony Music Entertainment. 2011. http://www.masterworksbroadway.com/artist/dick-van-dyke. 
  13. ^ New Orleans TV: The Golden Age, documentary produced by WYES-TV New Orleans Channel 12, broadcast 2009-07-18; published at WYES. See also WDSU Serves New Orleans Since 1948 and Dave Walker That old-time TV: New book celebrates 60 years of local stars.
  14. ^ Van Dyke page on the Internet Movie Database.
  15. ^ "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!", Rundown, NPR, 23 October 2010, http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=35&prgDate=10-23-2010 .
  16. ^ "Dick Van Dyke, Awards". The Internet Movie Database. 2008. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001813/awards. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  17. ^ Brooks, Tim; Earl Marsh (2003). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
  18. ^ "Dick Van Dyke's prescription for success". CNN. 2008. http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/9803/09/vandyke.diagnosis.lat/. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  19. ^ "Van Dyke and Company (TV Series 1976". IMDB. 1990-2011. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074068/. 
  20. ^ Van Dyke and Company
  21. ^ "Jake and the Fatman". IMDb. 1987–1992. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0614207/. 
  22. ^ "My Brother, My Keeper". IMDb. 2001-2010. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0696557/. 
  23. ^ Van Dyke was unhappy because it became a vehicle for Ann-Margaret, see "Dick Van Dyke Dances Through Life", Bill Keveney, USA Today, April 28, 2011
  24. ^ Staff writers (2003-06-30). "Connery 'has worst film accent'". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/film/3032052.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-06. 
  25. ^ "How not to do an American accent," BBC News online 21 July 2008, accessed 22 Sept. 2010
  26. ^ "Dick van Dyke Plays Not My Job". Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!. 2010-10-23. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130739954. 
  27. ^ King, Susan (December 6, 2010). "A Step In Time With Dick Van Dyke". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/dec/06/entertainment/la-et-classic-hollywood-20101206/2. "Somebody sent me a British magazine listing the 20 worst dialects ever done in movies. I was No. 2, with the worst Cockney accent ever done. No. 1 was Sean Connery, because he uses his Scottish brogue no matter what he's playing." 
  28. ^ The New York Times reviewed the movie and said The Comic was The Dick Van Dyke Show "gone sour". see "Turner Classic Movies-The Comic", Richard Harland Smith,http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/353393%7C0/The-Comic.html
  29. ^ "Night At The Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)". Baseline. 2011. http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1810028001/cast. 
  30. ^ "Amazon page for Faith, Hope and Hilarity". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/0385000510. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  31. ^ Barbershop Harmony Society - Honorary Members
  32. ^ Hafner, Katie (2000-06-22). "The Return of a Desktop Cult Classic (No, Not the Mac)". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/00/06/circuits/articles/22amig.html?oref=login. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  33. ^ Hill, Jim (2004-08-11). "Do you think that TV legends can't master computer animation? Well then ... You clearly don't know Dick". Jim Hill Media. http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hill/archive/2004/08/11/443.aspx. Retrieved 2007-11-03. 
  34. ^ "Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Has Dick Van Dyke Rapping On His New Album". MusicRooms.net. April 12, 2010.

[35] My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: a Memoir, Dick van Dyke (2011)

External links

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Actor to portray Caractacus Potts
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