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Richard Wayne “Dick” Van Dyke (born December 13, 1925) is an American actor, comedian, writer, and producer with a career spanning six decades. He is best known for his starring roles in the films Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the television series The Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis Murder.

Life and career

Television career

Dick Van Dyke's start in television was with WDSU-TVmarker New Orleansmarker Channel 6 (NBC), first as a single comedian and later as emcee of a comedy program. Van Dyke's first network TV appearance was on The Phil Silvers Show in the 1957–1958 season.

Van Dyke starred in the situation comedy The Dick Van Dyke Show from 1961 to 1966 in which he portrayed a comedy writer named Rob Petrie. Complementing Van Dyke was a veteran cast of comedic actors including Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Jerry Paris, Carl Reiner (as Alan Brady), as well as a newcomer to television Mary Tyler Moore, who portrayed Rob's wife Laura Petrie. He won three Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and the series received four Emmy Awards as Outstanding Comedy Series. From 1971 to 1974, Van Dyke starred in an unrelated sitcom called The New Dick Van Dyke Show in which he portrayed a local television talk show host. He received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance, but the show was less successful than its predecessor, and was cancelled after three seasons.

In the 1970s, Van Dyke hosted his own hour-long variety show called Van Dyke & Company on NBC. It aired between September and December 1976. When Carol Burnett's main foil Harvey Korman quit her long-running variety series in 1977, Van Dyke took his place. This was the first time he played second banana on television and there were very few comedic sparks between Van Dyke and Burnett. He left after three months. From 1993 to 2001, Van Dyke portrayed Dr. Mark Sloan in the long-running television series Diagnosis Murder, a medical drama; son Barry co-starred. 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 thirty-eight years. Van Dyke and his surviving cast members recreated their roles; the program was roundly panned by critics.

Van Dyke has made many guest appearances on other television programs throughout his lengthy career.

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 because the focus differed from the stage version, the film was a success. That same year, Van Dyke was cast in two roles as the chimney sweep Bert and the chairman of the bank in Walt Disney's Mary Poppins (1964). To film 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 was cited as one of the worst film accents in a 2003 poll by Empire magazine. Mary Poppins was nonetheless successful upon release and its enduring appeal has made it one of the most famous films in cinematic history. "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 in which Van Dyke starred throughout the 1960s were relatively unsuccessful, including What a Way to Go!, Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N., Fitzwilly, The Art of Love, Never a Dull Moment, and Divorce American Style. The musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), which co-starred Sally Ann Howes and reunited Van Dyke with the Sherman Brothers, was widely popular in Europe, but did not make an impact elsewhere.

Dramatic roles and career comeback

In 1969, Van Dyke appeared in the dramedy 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. He also began starring in a series of commercials as a spokesperson for Kodak.

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, Van Dyke 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 portrayed a murdering photographer on an episode of Columbo.

Van Dyke returned to comedy in 1976 with the sketch comedy show Van Dyke and Company, which co-starred Andy Kaufman and Super Dave Osborne. Despite being cancelled after three months, the show won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy-Variety Series. For the next decade, he appeared mostly in low-rated TV movies. 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.

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. The reviews he received for Tracy led him to star in a series of TV movies on CBS that became the foundation for his popular television drama Diagnosis Murder, which ran from 1993 to 2001. He first portrayed the character Dr. Mark Sloan in an episode of Jake and the Fatman. He 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, and in 2006, he guest-starred as college professor Dr. Jonathan Maxwell for a series of Murder 101 mystery films on the Hallmark Channel.

Van Dyke returned to motion pictures in 2006 with Curious George as Mr. Bloomsberry and as Cecil Frederick in the Ben Stiller film Night at the Museum.

Other work

Van Dyke at the 40th Emmy Awards Rehearsal, August 1988
Van Dyke received a Grammy Award for his performance on the soundtrack to Mary Poppins.

One of Van Dyke's modern passions is producing 3D computer graphics. He is credited with the creation of a 3D rendered effect shown in Diagnosis: Murder, and continues to work with LightWave 3D.

Personal life

Van Dyke was born in West Plains, Missourimarker, to Loren (nickname "Cookie") and Hazel (née McCord) Van Dyke, but grew up in Danville, Illinoismarker. He is the older brother of actor Jerry Van Dyke, who is best known for his role on the TV series Coach.

Van Dyke married Margie Willett in 1948. They had four children: Christian (Chris), Barry, Carrie Beth, and Stacy. They divorced in 1984 after a long separation. Dick Van Dyke lived with longtime companion Michelle Triola for more than thirty years until her death in 2009. Van Dyke's son Barry Van Dyke and grandson Carey Van Dyke are also actors; both, 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 served as district attorney for Marion County, Oregon in the 1980s. Among his cases was the so-called I-5 Killer, Randall Woodfield.

In 1987, his granddaughter Jessica Van Dyke died from Reye's Syndrome, which compelled him to do a series of television commercials to raise public awareness of the danger to children. He is still the National Spokesman of the National Reye's Syndrome Foundation.

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.

Van Dyke is a computer animation enthusiast and has displayed some of his CGI work at trade shows. This interest is referred to in the 2004 TV movie The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited, which shows that Rob Petrie has also become a CGI hobbyist. For a long time he used an Amiga 4000 with Video Toaster for creating his CG work.

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 Angelesmarker 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 Societymarker in 1999.

Van Dyke has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.



  • 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)


  • 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)



  • The Morning Show (1955) (host)
  • CBS Cartoon Theater (1956)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • True Life Stories (1981)
  • The Country Girl (1982)
  • Drop-Out Father (1982)
  • Wrong Way Kid (1983) (voice)
  • Found Money (1983)
  • Breakfast with Les and Bess (1985)
  • Strong Medicine (1986)
  • Ghost of a Chance (1987)


  1. New Orleans TV: The Golden Age, documentary produced by WYES-TV New Orleans Channel 12, broadcast 2009 July 18; see the documentary's web site 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.
  2. Van Dyke site on the Internet Movie Database.
  3. Brooks, Tim; Earl Marsh (2003). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
  4. Globe and Mail - Palimony figure Michelle Triola Marvin Dies
  5. People Magazine- Dick Van Dyke: Diagnosis Ageless
  6. The National Reye's Syndrome Foundation
  7. Barbershop Harmony Society - Honorary Members

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