Dick Van Dyke

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Richard Wayne Van Dyke (born December 13, 1925 in West Plains, Missouri), usually credited as Dick Van Dyke, is a noted American television and movie actor. He is most famous for his starring roles on The Dick Van Dyke Show (with Mary Tyler Moore) in the 1960s and Diagnosis: Murder as Dr. Sloan in the 1990s.


Early days

Van Dyke's first major role was on stage in Bye Bye Birdie in 1960, for which he won a Tony Award. He then starred in his own highly-rated and critically acclaimed sitcom, The Dick Van Dyke Show, about a staff of writers for The Alan Brady Show, a fictional TV variety show conceptually based on the 1950s hit, Your Show of Shows. The show divided its time between office and home, giving young supporting player Mary Tyler Moore a good deal of exposure. The Dick Van Dyke Show ran for five seasons – in the lead role of Rob Petrie, Van Dyke won three Emmy Awards.


Van Dyke as Bert (left, behind)  in .
Van Dyke as Bert (left, behind) in Mary Poppins.

He slowly transitioned out of television into movie acting in Bye Bye, Birdie (1963), What a Way to Go! (1964) and, most notably, Walt Disney's Mary Poppins (1964), in which he played Bert, a Cockney chimney sweep, and also played, in heavy disguise, the elderly owner of the bank. Van Dyke's attempt at a Cockney accent (and his tendency to lapse into and out of it) was widely ridiculed (especially in the UK), but the very popular and innovative film also showed his versatility as a singer and dancer. One of his showcase songs, Chim Chim Chiree, won the Oscar for the film's songwriting team.

After the mid-1960s, Van Dyke was in a number of relatively unsuccessful movies (though one, a children's film called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is still well-known, especially with the recent stage musical).

Dramatic roles

In 1974, however Van Dyke surprised everyone by appearing in his first dramatic role, as an alcoholic businessman in The Morning After (1974 movie). Van Dyke received wide acclaim and an Emmy nomination. Regarded by many as the most realistic television film ever made dealing with alcoholism, it is sometimes shown at treatment centers. The final scene in particular is regarded by many as chilling and unforgettable. It was at this time that Van Dyke admitted he had recently overcome a real-life drinking problem.

His career seemed essentially over by 1990 when Van Dyke, whose usual role had been the amiable hero, took a villainous turn in Dick Tracy. He received positive reviews that 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.


Dick Van Dyke was a great admirer of Stan Laurel and even gave the eulogy at his funeral. He also produced a TV special soon afterward, "A Tribute to Stan Laurel". He once met Laurel and told him he had copied a great deal from him. He said Laurel only laughed and said "I've noticed that".

Other Interests

One of Van Dyke's modern passions is producing 3D computer graphics. He created many of the 3D rendered effects shown in Diagnosis: Murder, did some of the special effects in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and continues to work with LightWave 3D.

Van Dyke received a Grammy Award for his performance on the soundtrack to Mary Poppins.

Personal life

Dick Van Dyke is the brother of actor Jerry Van Dyke. Dick's son Barry Van Dyke and grandson Carry Van Dyke are also actors: both Barry and Carry acted with Dick on Diagnosis: Murder.


External links

sv:Dick Van Dyke


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