Tuesday, June 7, 2011
by Dick Van Dyke
I have had a crush on Dick Van Dyke practically my whole life. At the age of five I saw my first movie at the theater, Mary Poppins,starring Dick Van Dyke as Bert the chimney sweep. About this time, I also started watching The Dick Van Dyke Show,which to this day is one of my favorite sitcoms. Last fall I heard him guest star on an episode of NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! Still funny as ever. So naturally when I heard he'd written his memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business,I had to read it.
My Lucky Life in and Out of Show Business spans his life from his early days in Danville, Illinois to his current volunteer work with the homeless at the Midnight Mission on L.A.'s skid row. Dick takes us behind the scenes of The Dick Van Dyke Show, one of the most innovative television sitcoms ever, his Broadway debut Bye Bye Birdie, and many of his movies, including his first, Bye Bye Birdie, and my first, Mary Poppins.
Dick writes of his many friends in the business, of his political involvement in the sixties, of his two great loves, Margie and Michelle, and of his addiction to cigarettes and alcohol. One of the most amusing yet poignant antidotes in this memoir is that of Dick's friendship with Dinky the Chimp, who costarred with him in 1966 in Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. Though he's 85 now, Dick has never retired from entertaining: He has a one-man show, performs with high school kids at a local fundraiser, sings with a musical quartet, The Vantastix, and occasionally still appears in movies. I'll say this, 85 or not, Dick Van Dyke in a movie is as much of a draw for me today as it was back in 1964.