Dick Van Dyke does not fit into the actors' Hall of Fame in the same way such luminaries as Bogart, Hepburn, Streep, and the Fonda's do. On the other hand he has been a household name for a good part of the period in which television dominated the entertainment headlines during the time period since the 1950s.
Dick Van Dyke's claim to fame is therefore the medium of television. He became a household name during the 1961 to 1966 period as the star of "The Dick Van Dyke Show"on CBS. The show was highly successful and ran for a period of nearly six years producing 157 episodes. After an interim period of five years, Van Dyke returned as the star of "The New Dick Van Dyke Show", again on CBS. The show ran from 1971 to 1974.
During a rather long period of dormancy, Van Dyke reappeared as the main star in a television drama series entitled, "Diagnosis: Murder". Van Dyke acted Dr. Sloan, and the highly successful series ran from 1993 to 2001. On the above basis one could argue that Dick Van Dyke's entertainment career can be summarized by the above three television series.
In fairness to Van Dyke, he deserves recognition for his many other entertainment activities. Van Dyke began his entertainment career as a television game show host in the 1950s. In 1956 he hosted "The Price Is Right", which was followed by "Mother's Day" in 1958 and concluded with "Laugh Line" in 1959. His exposure as a genial host during that time period caught the eye of producers and helped him to get catapulted into big time entertainment with the very popular "The Dick Van Dyke Show'.
Van Dyke's acting career's highlights were his participation in the musical "Bye, Bye Birdie" in 1960, for which he won the Tony Award, and his subsequent appearance in the movie version of "Bye, Bye Birdie" in 1963. Other films in which he starred were "Mary Poppins" in 1964, "Fitzwilly" in 1967, and "Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang" in 1968. In 1974, Van Dyke won wide acclaim and an Emmy nomination for his performance as an alcoholic in the television movie, "The Morning After". And last but not least, Van Dyke won a Grammy Award for his performance on the sound track to "Mary Poppins".
Dick Van Dyke was born in West Plains, Missouri on December 13, 1925. He grew up in Danville, Missouri. During World War II he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. While in the Air Force he participated in stage shows and worked as a radio DJ. During the early 1950s he hosted local comedy television shows in Atlanta and New Orleans. He signed a contract with CBS in 1956, and his career developed from there.
Van Dyke was married to Margie Willett from 1948 until their divorce in 1984. They had four children, Christian, Barrie, Carrie Beth and Stacey. Van Dyke is currently married to Michelle Triola. Dick Van Dyke is the brother of the actor Jerry Van Dyke, who is best known for his role on the television series "Coach". Dick's son Barry Van Dyke and grandson Carrie Van Dyke are also actors.
Dick Van Dyke's Dutch American background is widely accepted in the various biographies written on his life. However, there is no known link available that identifies who his ancestors were and how and when they arrived in the United States.
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