Dick Van Dyke (Actor) - The Dick Van Dyke Show
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Updated: 6/27/19

Name: Dick Van Dyke

Birth Name: Richard Wayne Van Dyke

Born: December 13, 1925 in West Plains, Missouri, USA

Claim To Fame: Dick Van Dyke is an American actor, comedian, singer, and dancer, whose entertainment career has spanned seven decades. He became known for his role as Rob Petrie on the CBS television sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran from 1961 to 1966.

Family Life: On February 12, 1948, Van Dyke married Margerie Willett on the radio show Bride and Groom. They had four children: Christian, Barry, Stacy, and Carrie Beth. They divorced in 1984 after a long separation. On February 29, 2012, at the age of 86, Van Dyke married 40-year-old make-up artist Arlene Silver. They had met six years earlier at the SAG awards.

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Info: Van Dyke is the older brother of actor Jerry Van Dyke (1931-2018), who is best known for a role of Luther on the TV series Coach.

Is ambidextrous but writes mainly left-handed.

Served in the United States Air Force.

Before he was a successful actor and a comedian, his first job was that of a radio announcer at a Danville, Illinois radio station at the age of 16. He did the news as well as spun records.

Had a brief stint as a television weatherman in New Orleans, Louisiana.

His album "Songs I Like by Dick Van Dyke" (Command Records, 1963), released at the height of his television success and just before the release of Mary Poppins (1964), was actually a bestseller, remaining on Billboard's top-40 albums chart for several weeks in late 1963-early 1964.

Is a staunch Democrat and a vocal supporter of gun control. Attended some fundraisers for Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 Democratic primaries. He is a self-described Roosevelt New Deal Democrat.

Although Van Dyke is now a committed non-smoker, he admits that he used to smoke 20-40 cigarettes a day.

Almost graduated from Danville High School in Danville, Illinois, in 1944. He received his high school diploma in 2004 when he was 78.

In 2017, Van Dyke released his first solo album since 1963's Songs I Like. The album, Step (Back) In Time, was produced by Bill Bixler (who also played sax), with arrangements by Dave Enos (who also played bass) and features noted musicians John Ferraro (Drums), Tony Guerrero (Trumpet & Vocal duet), Mark LeBrun (Piano), Charley Pollard (Trombone) and Leslie Bixler (Vocals). Step (Back) In Time was released by BixMix Records and showcases Van Dyke in a jazz and big band setting on classic songs from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

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Trivia: Went to high school with Donald O'Connor.

Beat out Johnny Carson for the role of Rob Petrie on what later became The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961).

Won Broadway's 1961 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Musical) for "Bye, Bye Birdie" and a Grammy Award for the Mary Poppins (1964) soundtrack.

His comic inspiration was Stan Laurel. He says he was able to find him by looking up his name in the phone book in Santa Monica, California, where Laurel lived. He called and Laurel invited him over. The two became good friends. When Laurel died, Van Dyke delivered his eulogy at the funeral.

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 25, 1993. But when the star was unveiled, his name was misspelled on the star as "VANDYKE". Being a good sport, he laughed, took a pen and drew a slash between "VAN" and "DYKE". The star was corrected soon after.

Was offered the role of Ambassador Thorn in The Omen (1976) before it went to Gregory Peck, but turned it down because of the film's violent and gory content. In a 2013 interview with "The Daily Telegraph" Van Dyke said his decision to decline the role was "stupid".

He was nearly cast as Fagin in Oliver! (1968) since the Columbia producers felt that Ron Moody, who had played the part in the London stage version, wasn't famous enough to attract movie audiences.

Received a lemon cake every Christmas from Charles Bronson, who lived nearby in Malibu, for 16 years.

His favorite The Dick Van Dyke Show episode is The Dick Van Dyke Show: Where Did I Come From? (1962).

Got the lead role of Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961), after producer Sheldon Leonard was so impressed with Van Dyke's performance in the stage production of "Bye, Bye Birdie".

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Where Are They Now: With Mary Poppins Returns, 2018 was a big year for Dick Van Dyke. Now, Van Dyke is to star in the comedy Capture the Flag, which is currently in pre-production.


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