Wednesday, 1 October 2014


In hunting around for information for last week’s blog post about Lennie Weinrib, I came a CBS publicity drawing for one of the episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show in which he appeared. It was attached to an Associated Press “what-is-he-really-like” piece about Van Dyke by co-star Mary Tyler Moore that was published in the Binghamton Press on July 11, 1965.

It’s hard to judge how sincere these kinds of stories are—it’s not like anyone says anything nasty in them—but I’d like to think this one’s legit. I don’t know Dick Van Dyke, but the people I know who do know him attest to what a fun and genuinely nice man he is.

The Van Dyke show holds up so well not only because of the cast chemistry but because what seems to me a dogged determination by Carl Reiner and Sheldon Leonard not to fall into hackneyed sitcom stories that were done to death in 1940s radio.

Dick Doesn’t Stand, Take Center Stage

Hollywood — (AP) — One of the questions I’m asked most often is what is it like to work with Dick Van Dyke. And I have a feeling people don’t believe what I tell them because it sounds too good to be true.
I just can’t say that offstage, Dick Van Dyke is moody. Or temperamental. Or hard to get along with. I’m not sure he knows what those words mean.
The truth is that Dick doesn't lose his temper. He doesn’t sulk. He doesn’t throw his weight around.
He's so nice, in our hearts we know we don’t deserve him.
Someone asked Dick once if he could ever be married to me in real life. And he answered very honestly—he said no. To kid him, I asked what was the matter with me. Dick said, "I’m a marshmallow type. I’m not forceful enough for you."
I had to think that over. If Dick is a marshmallow type, it's over a steel core. He’s one of the strongest men I’ve ever known. But he’s quietly strong. (I probably need a loudly strong type.)
There are quite a few loud, strong types working to put The Dick Van Dyke Show (Wednesdays on Channel 12) together. We all sit around tossing in ideas, adding bits of action to the scripts as we go along. There’s a lot of joking and laughing and general fooling around.
Dick will be in the middle of it all. But he sits in the middle—he doesn't stand up and take center stage.
IF we’re working out a camera move that doesn’t concern him, Dick may wander off and play the stage piano. You know what he usually plays? Johann Sebastian Bach.
That's because he's learning to play the harpsichord and he practices whenever he can. I imagine we’re the only show in Hollywood that rehearses to Bach.
Dick does live up to his reputation as a funny, funny man. The great thing about working with him is that he does more hilarious things offstage than we ever have time for on camera.
We did one show in which a clothing store mannequin was part of the stage setting. During rehearsal, Dick wandered over and pretended to whisper in her ear, carrying on a great conversation in pantomime. One second he’d be a spy passing on vital secrets. The next, a mean, gossipy old woman. Then a Don Juan. It was a great performance—and one that only a couple of dozen people saw.
I’ve said this before and I’ll keep on saying it. Dick is a born artist. He’s so talented at things he's never had formal training for — dancing, playing the piano, juggling.
He makes it look as though things are easy for him. And because of this, he makes things easy for all of us who work with him, Who could ask for anything more?

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