Dick Van Dyke: Things You Didn’t Know

By Kirsty 8 months ago

He's Said Sorry For THAT Cockney Accent: He Thinks It's Atrocious!

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Mary Poppins fans unite, because even though that accent was the worst cockney accent ever, there's still timeless charm about it when you think of Bert from the movie. Dick Van Dyke, however, thought it was so terrible that he even apologised for it during his BAFTA acceptance speech for television in 2017: “I appreciate this opportunity to apologise to the members of BAFTA for inflicting on them the most atrocious cockney accent in the history of cinema.”

He Was Saved By Porpoises When He'd Drifted Out To Sea - Or So He Claims

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Dick Van Dyke is also a fan of surfing, and he'd fallen asleep on his board one time (not advisable) and ended up waking up after he'd drifted dangerously out to sea. According to the actor, after he panicked thinking he wouldn't be able to paddle all the way back, a pod of porpoises appeared, surrounded his board and pushed him back to shore. Like something out of a Disney movie, isn't it?

His Parents Lied About His Age To Cover Up A Scandal!

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When Van Dyke turned 18 - or when he thought he turned 18 - he asked his mom about joining the US Air Corps. This is when she revealed the truth: he'd been 18 for four months already, and they'd originally lied about his birth date because he'd been conceived out of wedlock, which was a huge scandal for those times!

He Married His First Wife Live On Radio Because They Couldn't Afford A Wedding

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If you're getting married live on TV or radio these days, it's usually because you entered a reality show or you want the fame. For Dick Van Dyke and his first wife, Margie Willett, they got married live on radio because they were poor! Getting married live on radio meant they had their licence, wedding rings, gifts and licence all paid for!

And They Were So Poor They Were Living In Their Car

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These were dire times for Dick Van Dyke and his wife, which you might not expect when you think of a famous Hollywood actor. We all know many actors struggle before they make it big, and for Van Dyke, he and his wife were so poor that they were actually living in their car! And thank goodness they had a car, at least.

He Was 78 Years Old When He Got His High School Diploma

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For all of you wondering whether you're too old to go back to higher education, let Van Dyke be an inspiration for you! Because he'd originally dropped out of school, Van Dyke eventually realised it was bugging him that he'd never finished his education, despite his success and not needing that diploma. So he eventually graduated high school - at 78 years old!

His Star On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame Spelled His Name Wrong At First

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You might be thinking how you could possibly get a straightforward name like 'Dick Van Dyke' wrong, but the issue was that they forgot to put a space and it read: Dick VanDyke. Talk about ruining one of the most special moments in an actor's career! But Van Dyke being Van Dyke, he laughed it off - and even drew a line between the two words with a pen!

He Turned Down The Lead Role In 'The Omen' - And Regrets It

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In case you're not a huge horror fan, The Omen was a classic devil-spawn horror from the 70s that saw legendary actor Gregory Peck in the lead role. Well, apparently, that role almost went to Van Dyke! He turned it down because he felt like he'd built up his reputation to be someone the audience could trust, and who wouldn't star in anything violent or sexual. To be fair, I don't think I could've taken The Omen seriously if Van Dyke was in it. Later, he said turning it down was "stupid"!

One Of His Favorite Hobbies Is Computer Animation - And He Even Does It For His Own Shows!

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Dick Van Dyke definitely didn't want to be an older person out of touch with technology, and it all started back in the 80s when he found his love for tech! Computer animation has been one of his favorite pastimes, and he's so good at it that he's even created animations for his own shows, like The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisted when he made a CG twin!

Van Dyke Gave Up On His Performer Dreams To Try To Enter The Army - But Was Rejected, Twice!

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Dick Van Dyke grew up knowing he wanted to be a performer, but he dropped out of high school at the start of the Second World War to try and fight for his country. He tried twice to enlist as a soldier, but he was actually rejected because he was underweight! He was even told to go on a milkshake diet to increase body mass.

He Was Accepted Into The Army The Third Attempt - But Not On The Frontlines

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After Van Dyke had successfully put on a bit of weight, he was accepted into the army on his third go, and allowed to join up. But instead of being placed on the frontlines as a soldier, he had a non-combat position as a radio announcer and a performer in variety shows for the soldiers! Checks out.

He Only Started Dancing When He Was In His 30s

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For all of you having existential crises after turning 30, just remember that Dick Van Dyke was in his 30s when he learnt to dance! It's never too late to learn! You might have thought based on his dance moves in Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, to name a few, he'd been dancing all his life - but nope.

He Got A Lemon Cake Every Christmas From Charles Bronson - For 16 Years!

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Charles Bronson, another big actor of the age, was a friend of Dick Van Dyke who ended up living close to him in Malibu. During their friendship - which lasted two decades - Bronson would also give Dick Van Dyke a lemon cake for Christmas! Such a sweet tradition, quite literally.

He Was Only 6 Months Younger Than His 'Mother' In Bye Bye Birdie - His Film Debut

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It's no great surprise these days when actors are cast a lot older than the roles they're playing - see every teen drama ever - but in Bye Bye Birdie, Van Dyke was only 6 months younger than the woman playing his mother, Maureen Stapleton! To make it convincing, Stapleton had to wear a lot makeup to make her look older!

And He Was Older Than His Dad In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

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In the iconic film, Dick Van Dyke played the son of Bungie, played by Lionel Jeffries. Bungie was made to look like an old grandpa, when in actual fact, actor Jeffries was actually 6 months younger than Dick Van Dyke at the time of shooting! He was in the make up chair to look many, many years older!

He Was A Huge Fan Of Stan Laurel - He Found His Name In The Phonebook And The Two Became Friends!

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Can you imagine just casually finding the number of one of your favorite performers and phoning them up? Not only that, but then having them say yes, let's be besties! That's what happened with Dick Van Dyke and Stan Laurel, of Laurel and Hardy. Van Dyke called him up to tell him how much he admired his work, and Laurel invited him over. The rest is history.

He Was Actually A Sunday School Teacher Before He Made It Big In Hollywood

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Van Dyke grew up in a very religious family, and from a young age wanted to be a church minister. He helped out the local church and would teach at Sunday school. While he always thought he'd be a minister, it was in high school - drama class specifically - when he realised his true calling: acting!

He Even Has His Own Barbershop Quartet!

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As well as being a huge fan of barbershop quartets anyway, Dick Van Dyke took it one step further and made his own! His group of four is named The Vantastix, and they've even recorded and released a children's album! Van Dyke is also a member of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (we hope their songs are less long-winded!).

Dick Van Dyke Did His Own Version Of 'Lipsync Battle'

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Dick Van Dyke worked in radio for a while, where he actually started a comedy duo with another comedian, Phil Erikson, and the pair ended up performing as 'The Merry Mutes', where they would tour around nightclubs and mime along to classic songs - pretty much like Lipsync Battle, but we imagine a bit funnier!

He Used To Be A Weatherman

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Dick Van Dyke has certainly gone through some interesting jobs through the years, and one of those might surprise you most: a weatherman! He worked as a weatherman in New Orleans, which actually doesn't sound too strange when you think about the fact it's just another performing job in front of a camera!

Many Of Van Dyke's Family Members Appeared In Diagnosis: Murder

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If you're a Van Dyke fan, you'll know that Diagnosis: Murder was one of his biggest TV roles, and a fan favorite. The show actually refreshed Van Dyke's declining career, and it went on to guest star his son, Barry, his grandson, Carey, and even his daughter, Stacy - very much a family affair for this show!

He Went To High School With Two Famous Singers And Performers

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You always have to wonder about big stars in their school days, and whether they were seated next to someone destined to be a big star themselves. Well, Van Dyke was actually classmates with Bobby Short, the cabaret singer and pianist, as well as Donald O'Connor, the singer, dancer and actor (who you'll know from Singin' in the Rain!).

Dick Van Dyke's High School Newspaper Predicted His Fame

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Back in 1944, Van Dyke was interviewed for a feature in his high school newspaper. Doesn't sound like there's anything strange about that, right? Well, in the interview, when Van Dyke spoke about leaving school to join the army, the editor slipped in a comment at the end mentioning that Van Dyke's career after the army would see him "right at the top of the entertainment world".

He Was Over 6 Foot Before He Was 12 Years Old

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You might not be able to tell just how tall Dick Van Dyke is when you see him on screen, though he's always had a more lanky frame, but he had actually already reached 6 foot tall by his 12th birthday! He wrote in one of his books that he'd reached a height of 6 foot 1 by the time he was 11! Not too shabby.

Nobody Really Knew Who He Was When He Was Cast In The Dick Van Dyke Show

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To have your own show, and to hope that people would tune in to watch it, you'd hope that you'd be relatively famous - but that wasn't the case with Van Dyke! When he was cast as the lead in his own show, nobody really knew who he was apart from the guy who was appearing on Broadway for a time.

His Breakout TV Role Almost Went To Someone Else

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Speaking of the Dick Van Dyke show, it was almost the Johnny Carson Show! Producers of the TV show wanted someone who was an 'all-American guy', so Van Dyke almost missed out on his breakout role. The directors had narrowed it down to him and Johnny Carson, the famous television host.

He Left The Carol Burnett Show Due To Lack Of Chemistry

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Dick Van Dyke was actually hired as a regular on another hit show, The Carol Burnett Show, for its 10th season running. He replaced Harvey Korman on the latest season, but he actually ended up leaving halfway through because ratings dropped after viewers didn't think he had much chemistry with the rest of the cast!

He Was 36 When He Was In His First Movie

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When you think of timeless Hollywood stars you've grown up with, you just think of them as acting from a young age, and never see them as doing anything different. It may surprise you that Dick Van Dyke was actually 36 years old when he appeared in his very first movie! Which is old compared to Hollywood standards.

He Actually Wrote A Book On His Experience Of Aging

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Nobody wants to get any older, and Dick Van Dyke is out here being an inspiration! In his self-help book, Keep Moving and Other Tips And Truths About Living Well Longer, he explained that there are no limitations on what you can do when you get older: dance, sing and get excited whenever you feel like it! His book puts focus on enjoying yourself - which he's certainly done during his career.

He Hasn't Retired - And Isn't Going Anywhere Soon!

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The actor is now 97 years old - and still hasn't retired from the world of showbiz. Though he had a sort of semi-retirement back in the 70s, he's still acting to this day, and apparently still loves doing what he's doing. He even appeared in the latest Mary Poppins Returns in 2018, in case you missed his cameo!

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