|Dick Van Dyke||Age 97||Birthday December 13, 1925||Born United States||Relationship Married||Height 6′ 1′′||Net Worth $50M|
Richard Wayne Van Dyke is a 7-decade award-winning actor, entertainer and comedian known for his roles in radio, television, nightclubs and Broadway. With unforgettable performances in classics like The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Poppins, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, he has charmed generations with his comedic timing, smooth dance moves, and warm persona.
Early Life and Career Beginnings
Born in 1925 in Missouri, Van Dyke grew up during the Great Depression. As a child, he loved making his family laugh with comedy routines. After serving in WWII, he got his start in show business as a radio DJ and TV host in the late 1940s.
Van Dyke soon realized his talent for physical comedy and pantomime. He developed a mime act and toured as an entertainer and emcee for years. His hilarious pantomime skills earned him guest appearances on shows like The Ed Sullivan Show. It was during this time that he met Margie Willett, a dancer who later became his wife.
Big Breaks in Bye Bye Birdie and The Dick Van Dyke Show
Van Dyke‘s big break came in 1959, when he starred in the Broadway hit Bye Bye Birdie. His singing, dancing, and comedic talents earned tremendous praise and a Tony award. This recognition led to his own sitcom, the now-classic The Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran from 1961-1966.
As comedy writer Rob Petrie, Van Dyke stumbled charmingly through life with his TV family, winning audiences‘ hearts. He took home 3 Emmys for his hilarious physical comedy and perfect comedic timing. With clever writing and Van Dyke‘s relatable performance, The Dick Van Dyke Show became one of the most influential sitcoms ever made.
Scene-Stealing Performance in Mary Poppins
Riding high off his TV success, Van Dyke took on the role of Bert the chimney sweep in the 1964 Disney musical Mary Poppins. Though Poppins got top billing, Van Dyke‘s cockney accent, loose-limbed dancing, and heartwarming charm stole the show in classics like "Step in Time."
Van Dyke made the challenging songs and dances look effortless. His legendary performance solidified the film‘s status as a masterpiece and contributed to its 5 Academy Award wins. For bringing Bert to life so vividly, Van Dyke was awarded a Grammy with co-star Julie Andrews.
Later Stage, TV, and Film Career
Van Dyke continued performing steadily, though nothing matched The Dick Van Dyke Show‘s success. He hosted The New Dick Van Dyke Show from 1971-1974 and took on more dramatic TV movie roles. On film, he appeared in lighthearted family movies like Lt. Robin Crusoe (1966) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968).
Approaching his 70s, Van Dyke impressed Broadway audiences again in revivals of The Music Man and Damn Yankees. He even learned tap dancing for his stage roles! Proving his lasting appeal, he starred in the mystery series Diagnosis Murder from 1993-2001 with his real-life son Barry. Van Dyke officially retired in 2017 at age 91.
Accolades and Honors
Few stars have been honored as much as Dick Van Dyke:
- 5 Emmys
- 1 Tony
- 1 Grammy
- SAG Lifetime Achievement Award (2013)
- Kennedy Center Honors (1993)
- Hollywood Walk of Fame Star (1993)
- Honorary Oscar from The Academy (2016)
Comedic Legacy and Influence
While gifted as a dancer and singer, Van Dyke‘s unique brand of physical comedy made him an icon. He incorporated vaudevillian slapstick and mime into his own style. Van Dyke tripped charmingly over furniture and stumbled through scenes, always smiling through the laughter he provoked.
As a comedian, he moved effortlessly between mediums – from radio to film to TV. His dedication to getting laughs led to unforgettable scenes in Mary Poppins and The Dick Van Dyke Show. While other comics of the era focused on looking cool, Van Dyke embraced his clumsy, goofy side.
To younger fans, he‘s best known as Dr. Mark Sloan on Diagnosis Murder. But it was his witty, lively performance on The Dick Van Dyke Show that set the standard for sitcom ensembles. His subtle humor and genuineness as Rob Petrie captured America‘s heart. Stars like Robin Williams clearly took inspiration from Van Dyke‘s rubber-faced comedy and earnest charm.
Final Years and Family
Van Dyke was married to Margie Willett from 1948 before divorcing in 1984. They had 4 children together, including son Barry who often acted alongside his dad. From 1974 until her death in 2009, Van Dyke‘s longtime companion was Michelle Triola.
Now 97, the still-energetic Van Dyke lives in California. He published a memoir titled My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business in 2011. The book provides heartwarming insight into his Midwestern roots, positive outlook, and legendary career. Though retired, Dick Van Dyke remains one of Hollywood‘s most beloved figures.
What‘s remarkable about Dick Van Dyke is how well-liked he always was by co-workers and fans. While many comics battled demons, Van Dyke projected an aura of joy. His appreciation for his successes and humble nature made him so endearing.
Despite performing since the 1940s, Van Dyke never decreased in popularity. His sincere comedy delighted generation after generation. Whether floating across rooftops in Mary Poppins or doing a vaudevillian shuffle, Van Dyke could make us forget our troubles and laugh out loud.
At 97, Dick Van Dyke has likely made his last on-screen appearance. But the image of him tripping over an ottoman or dancing with penguins has become etched in pop culture history. That cheerful, youthful performer is how Dick Van Dyke will always be remembered – as one of Hollywood‘s most talented and lovable stars.