Sure, everyone knows Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie from the 1960s sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show. And of course, no one can forget him as the lovable chimney sweep, Bert, in Mary Poppins (and he even received a Grammy award for his participation on the soundtrack!). Many people might even remember him from the less successful 1970s The New Dick Van Dyke Show. I even remember him from the Stop, Drop and Roll fire safety films they used to show when I was in school. (See below…)
As you also know, when his comedy was mastered, he went on to show he was a master of drama in Diagnosis Murder. And if you’ve been to the movies recently, you already know he’s still quite active in his acting career. He also sings professionally and is a computer animation enthusiast whose work is well-noted in the computer community.
But what many people do not know is that Dick Van Dyke, who happens to be among my top five favorite all-time actors, is also a successful author! In 1967, he wrote Altar Egos, which was a photo book with some short commentaries of fun twists on a religious theme. In 1970, he wrote Faith, Hope and Hilarity: The Child’s Eye View of Religion, and in 1975, he wrote Those Funny Kids! Both these books offer funny childhood perspectives of religion.
(In case you’re wondering, yes, he considered a career in ministry.)
And finally, in 2011, he penned his memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business. In fact, Carl Reiner (who played Alan Brady on The Dick Van Dyke Show and also produced the show) wrote the foreword to this memoir which is an excellent read.
Mr. Van Dyke was born on December 13, 1925, in West Plains, Missouri, though he spent most of his childhood in Danville, Illinois. His family lineage traces back to John Alden of The Mayflower. During World War II, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps where he was a radio announcer, and he later transferred to Special Services where he entertained troops. And he’s been entertaining people ever since!
Happy 89th Birthday, Mr. Van Dyke!