Family Tree Tuesday – Dick Van Dyke
Dick Van Dyke is an American actor, comedian, writer, and producer. He starred in the films Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in the TV series The Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis: Murder. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard. He will be receiving the Screen Actors Guild’s highest honor: The Life Achievement Award at the annual Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony in January 2013.
His attempt at a cockney accent in Mary Poppins has been decried as one of the worst accents in film history, cited as an example by actors of how not to sound. According to Van Dyke, his accent coach was Irish, who “didn’t do an accent any better than I did.” Mary Poppins was still successful and one of the most famous films of all time. Van Dyke along with Julie Andrews received a Grammy Award in 1964 for his performance on the soundtrack to Mary Poppins.
He was born Richard Wayne Van Dyke on December 13, 1925 in West Plains, Missouri to Loren and Hazel Van Dyke. He is of Dutch descent on his father’s side and English and Scottish on his mother’s side. His mother is a descendant of Mayflower passenger Peter Browne from England. Peter Browne was Van Dyke’s 9th great grandfather. During World War II, Van Dyke enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps where he became a radio announcer and served in both the Special Air Services then transferred to the Special Services entertaining troops in the Continental United States. In 1948, while Van Dyke was appearing at the Chapman Park Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, he and the former Margerie Willett were married on the radio show Bride and Groom. They had four children: Christian, Barry, Carrie Beth, and Stacy. They divorced in 1984.
Van Dyke’s younger brother is Jerry Van Dyke who is also an American comedian and actor. He made his acting debut on The Dick Van Dyke Show. He later became one of the stars in the TV sitcom Coach from 1989-1997. Jerry Van Dyke began his stand-up comedy career while still in high school and in 1952 joined the Air Force Tops In Blue. He performed at military bases around the world, winning the All Air Force Talent Show twice. He was a regular on The Judy Garland Show until the show was revamped and he was released from it. Van Dyke had turned down the role of Gilligan in Gilligan’s Island, and rejected an offer to replace Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show, and then accepted the lead role of attorney David Crabtree in the short-lived My Mother the Car (1965). He is an avid poker player and is also a 4-string banjo player. Jerry had three children with his first wife: Jerri Lynn, Kelly Jean and Ronald. Kelly Jean Van Dyke, who worked in the adult film industry, committed suicide in 1991, after an emotional phone call with her husband actor Jack Nance.
Barry Van Dyke is Dick Van Dyke’s son who is an actor. He is best known as Mark Sloan’s (played by his real life father Dick Van Dyke) police officer son, Lieutenant Detective Steve Sloan on Diagnosis: Murder. He made his television debut as a violin-toting nine-year-old in “The Talented Neighborhood” episode of the The Dick Van Dyke Show. Barry’s son Shane Van Dyke is also an actor, director and screenwriter. Shane also appeared on Diagnosis: Murder as Dr. Alex Smith. In 2007, he rejoined his grandfather and father in a series of Hallmark Channel Original Movies titled Murder 101. In 2012, Shane produced with his brother, Carey, and Oren Peli, the horror film Chernobyl Diaries.
Jessica Van Dyke, Dick’s granddaughter, died from Reye’s syndrome in 1987, which drove him to do a series of television commercials to raise public awareness of the danger of aspirin to children.
Dick Van Dyke became a computer animation enthusiast after purchasing a Commodore Amiga in 1991. He is credited with the creation of 3D-rendered effects used on Diagnosis: Murder and The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited. He is also an a cappella enthusiast, Van Dyke has sung in a group called “The Vantastix” since September 2000. The quartet has performed on Larry King Live, The First Annual TV Land Awards, and sang the national anthem at three Los Angeles Lakers game including a nationally televised NBA Finals performance on NBC. Van Dyke was made an honorary member of the Barbershop Harmony Society in 1999.
Did you know Dick Van Dyke also raps? In 2010, he rapped on one of the tracks of a children’s album titled Rhythm Train, with Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and singer Leslie Bixler.
Check out Dick Van Dyke’s family tree and see how you may be related!