Dick Van Dyke was, and still is, one of the most beloved actors of all time. His musical talents, dancing abilities, and comedic genius make him a timeless talent.
The 91-year-old actor has been in the business for a while, but how much do you really know about him?
1. Tall Boy
Though being over 6ft tall isn't necessarily shocking, it is when you're not even 12 years old. In his book Those Funny Kids: A Treasury of Classroom Laughter, Van Dyke revealed he was over 6'1" by age 11.
2. So What Is The Truth?
Dick Van Dyke wrote in one of his books that his parents lied to him about his age until he was 18. He was born out of wedlock, and they didn't want him to know.
This is an excerpt from Van Dyke's book, "My Lucky Life In And Out Of Show Business".
“I’m going to be eighteen in March,” I said. “That means I’ll be up for the draft. I really don’t want to go — and I really don’t want to be in the infantry. So I’m thinking that I ought to join now and try to get in the Air Force.”
My mother let the dish she was washing slide back into the soapy water and dried her hands. She turned to me, a serious look on her face.
“I have something to tell you,” she said.
“You’re already eighteen,” she said.
My jaw dropped. I was shocked.
“You were born a little premature,” she explained. “You didn’t have any fingernails. And there were a few other complications.”
“Complications?” I said.
“Don’t worry, you’re fine now,” she said, smiling. “But we just put your birth date forward to what would have been full term.” I wanted to know more than she was willing to reveal, so I turned to another source, my Grandmother Van Dyke. My grandparents on both sides lived nearby, but Grandmother Van Dyke was the most straightforward of the bunch. I stopped by her house one day after school and asked what she remembered about the complications that resulted from my premature birth.
She looked like she wanted to say “bulls--t.” She asked who had sold me a bill of goods.
“My mother,” I replied.
“You weren’t premature,” she said.
“You were conceived out of wedlock,” she said, and then she went on to explain that my mother had gotten pregnant before she and my father married. Though it was never stated, I was probably the reason they got married. Eventually my mother confirmed the story, adding that after finding out, she and my father went to Missouri, where I was born. Then, following a certain amount of time, they returned to Danville.
3. Late Graduate
In 1944, Dick Van Dyke dropped out of high school when he was called into war with the Army Air Forces. It wasn't until 60 years later, when Van Dyke returned to his old high school for a performance of Bye Bye Birdie, that the legendary actor received his high school diploma.
4. Wedding Bells
Van Dyke and his first wife, Margie Willet, were married in 1948. The couple was too poor to afford their own wedding, but then a radio producer approached them and asked if they would get married on live radio.
"We exchanged our vows in front of a minister and two radio microphones while 15 million people listened!" Van Dyke said.
The radio station paid for their entire wedding and honeymoon. Van Dyke says the couple was so poor, that at times they had to live in their car.
5. Sorry, who?
Though it seems impossible that there was a time when Dick Van Dyke wasn't a household name, before he got his own show he was pretty much unknown. Before he was cast in The Dick Van Dyke Show, the actor was performing on Broadway in the musical Bye Bye Birdie! He won a Tony Award for his performance, and then landed his own series. Van Dyke took a week off from his Broadway schedule to film the pilot.
6. Here's Johnny
Instead of The Dick Van Dyke Show, we easily could have been watching The Johnny Carson Show (or whatever they decided to name it). Producers wanted an "all-american guy", and they thought Carson was the man for the job. However, because of his success on Broadway, producers went with their other option, Dick Van Dyke.
7. Ratings Flop
After Harvey Korman left The Carol Burnett Show, Dick Van Dyke was brought in to replace him. Though Van Dyke was talented, the audience felt he didn't have the same chemistry with the cast as Korman did. Van Dyke left the show soon after arriving, but he and Burnett remain good friends to this day.
8. Mr. Banks
Though Van Dyke already had the role of Bert in Mary Poppins, he fought to get the role of evil bank president Mr. Dawes, too. Disney made him audition for the second role, but they only agreed to give it him when he offered to make a $4,000 donation to the film school Disney had set up in 1961. Van Dyke wasn't upset, though. He really wanted the part and said he would have done it for free.
9. Psychic School
When Van Dyke left high school to fight in the war, his school paper did a write-up about him. The article eerily predicts his future, as the last line reads, "Danville High School wishes you the best of luck, Dick Van Dyke, and hopes your post-war career will see you right at the top of the entertainment world."
Little did they know...