Richard Wayne “Dick” Van Dyke (born December 13, 1925) is an American actor, presenter and entertainer, with a career spanning six decades. He is best known for his starring roles in Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis: Murder.
After appearing in many high school plays and community theater productions, Van Dyke enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. There he participated in stage shows and worked as a radio DJ. He appeared on a variety of television shows such as The Phil Silvers Show, The Garry Moore Show, What's My Line and To Tell The Truth. He also hosted CBS Cartoon Theater, Laugh Line and Mothers Day. His big break came on April 14, 1960, on Broadway as Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie. He received the Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in 1961. He was spotted by Sheldon Leonard who was looking for a comedic actor to star in a new situation comedy created by Carl Reiner. Another actor considered for the role was Johnny Carson. During the early run of the show, Van Dyke also served as the host of "Flair," a daytime magazine show on ABC radio patterned after NBC's Monitor, premiering October 3, 1960.
To entice Van Dyke to return to series television, CBS literally built a studio in Carefree, Arizona, the star's new home town, for the purpose of filming it. Reviews and ratings were generally good and the show lasted three seasons. When the network executives refused to air one episode on the grounds that it was too sexually charged, producer Carl Reiner walked out on the series; Van Dyke decided not to renew. The seventies found Dick on NBC with his own hour-long variety show called Van Dyke & Co. It aired between September and December 1976. When Carol Burnett's main foil Harvey Korman quit her long-running variety series, Van Dyke took his place. This was the first time he played second banana on television, and there were very few comedic sparks between Dick and Carol. He left after one season.
In 1988, he starred in a short-lived sitcom, The Van Dyke Show in which he portrayed a retired Broadway Star. Dick's real-life son Barry was a regular. From 1993 to 2001 Dick portrayed Dr. Mark Sloan in the long running television series Diagnosis Murder, a medical/crime drama; son Barry co-starred. A 2004 special, The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited, was heavily promoted as the first new episode of the classic series to be shown in 38 years. Dick and his surviving cast members recreated their roles; the program was roundly panned by critics.
He also has made many guest appearances on other television programs throughout his lengthy career, and continues to be in demand.
Van Dyke made several more comedy movies throughout the 1960s 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. Although most of his movies from this era were relatively unsuccessful, the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a worldwide success. In later years, Van Dyke would complain that he had "never made a good movie."
In 1971, Van Dyke starred with Hope Lange in another sitcom called The New Dick Van Dyke Show. He portrayed Dick Preston, a local talk show host in Phoenix, Arizona. Van Dyke was actually living in Carefree, Arizona at the time and the show was filmed there in a new Scottsdale Road facility, Southwestern Studios.
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" (aka "The Haunted Carnival"), the series' final first run episode.
In 1974, Van Dyke received an Emmy nomination for his role as an alcoholic businessman in the television movie The Morning After. It was at this time that Van Dyke admitted he had recently overcome a real-life drinking problem.
In 1974, he played another atypical role as a murdering photographer in Negative Reaction, an episode of the popular series Columbo; two years earlier, he was dialogue coach for another episode, Dagger Of The Mind. He also began doing public service announcements for the National Fire Protection Agency through 1984. Van Dyke returned to comedy in 1976 with the sketch comedy show Van Dyke and Company, which also starred Andy Kaufman and Super Dave Osborne. Despite being cancelled after only three months, the show won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy-Variety Series, beating Saturday Night Live.
In 1977, Van Dyke then joined the cast of The Carol Burnett Show after Harvey Korman left the show. Unfortunately, his comedy style did not work as well with Burnett's, and he left the show after three months. For the next decade, he appeared mainly in low-rated TV movies. One exception was another atypical role as a murdering judge on the first episode of the TV series Matlock in 1986 starring Andy Griffith. In 1988, Van Dyke returned with another sitcom called The Van Dyke Show, which co-starred his son, Barry. The show was cancelled after just five episodes.
His career seemed essentially over by 1989 when Dick Van Dyke started a career comeback. First, he took a guest starring role on NBC's hit TV series The Golden Girls playing Dorothy's (Bea Arthur's) beau, who decides to give up being a lawyer to become a circus clown. The role earned him his first Emmy 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 movie 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 played 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, a 2004 on Scrubs, where he played a doctor who could not keep up with the changing ways of medical care, and in 2006 accepted a starring role as college professor Dr. Jonathan Maxwell for a series of "Murder 101" mystery films on the Hallmark Channel.
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.
He married Margie Willett in 1948, with whom he had four children: Christian (Chris), Barry, Carrie Beth and Stacy. They divorced in 1984 after a long separation. 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 Diagnosis: Murder series. All of Van Dyke's children are married, and he has seven grandchildren. His son Chris served as district attorney for Marion County in the 1980s. Among his cases was the so-called I-5 Killer, Randall Woodfield. Dick resides with longtime companion Michelle Triola.
In 1987, his granddaughter Jessica Van Dyke died from Reye's Syndrome, which caused 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.
He has also served as an elder in the Presbyterian Church.
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 a 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 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.
Van Dyke has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6675 Hollywood Blvd.
Van Dyke has a deep interest in 3D animation. He uses NewTek LightWave 3D to Model, Animate and Render.