Tuesday 21 August 2012

Dick Van Dyke

I am prompt with this one! I just noticed that “Dick Van Dyke” was trending, and I consider it my sworn duty to swoop in and get the skinny on all trending Dicks. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Dick Van Dyke is trending because it was announced that he will receive a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2013. The man has been acting and entertaining for over sixty years. Way to go, Dick!

Richard Wayne Van Dyke was born December 13, 1925 in Missouri, but he grew up in Illinois (go Midwest!). He served as a radio announcer and entertainer of the troops during World War II, and he married his first wife (and mother of his four children) on the radio show Bride and Groom in 1948. I must admit, that sounds like a radio precursor to reality TV.

After radio, Dick was part of a touring comedy duo until he started appearing in Broadway musicals. His first role was in The Girls Against the Boys (never heard of it, but maybe you have) and he later played the male lead in Bye Bye Birdie. Dick also did television; his most famous work was The Dick Van Dyke Show with Mary Tyler Moore, which ran from 1961 to 1966. Dick did other shows after that (including The New Dick Van Dyke Show) but none were as successful. Fun facts: he voiced his animated counterpart in “Scooby-Doo Meets Dick Van Dyke” (speaking of Scooby-Doo: Rest in Peace, Phyllis Diller); played a murderer in the first episode of Matlock; and was a boyfriend of Bea Arthur’s character on The Golden Girls. Good stuff, right there.

Dick also did film; he’s probably most famous for portraying the chimney sweep Bert with the horrendous accent in Mary Poppins. His accent, according to a 2003 poll by Empire Magazine, is the second-worst in film history. That’s pretty bad, but, when you’re a kid, you don’t really notice. It’s not as though I had ever heard a turn-of-the-century London East Ender talk before.  But Dick seems to take it all in stride, noting with a laugh, that British people “tease me to death” about the accent (see LA Times article). Yeah, I’d be laughing too – all the way to the bank – if I were as rich as him. Dick also appeared in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (without a horrible accent). He also played a villain in Dick Tracy and Night at the Museum. He was in other movies, too, but those weren’t very good.

Dick has won five Emmys, a Tony, and a Grammy, which is quite a haul. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and he’s about to get a SAG Award. Congratulations, Dick!

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