When “The Dick Van Dyke Show” premiered in 1961, it instantly became an American classic. The slapstick humor, impressive acting talent, and family-friendly plot line helped it earn its way into the hearts of millions of viewers, and many diehard fans still watch the show in reruns! But, even if you don’t follow the show that closely, you’re probably still curious about what became of some of the cast.
We have put together twenty slides chocked-full of then and nows, fun facts, and interesting tidbits about “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” All of the actors have had impressive careers since then, but some of more interesting stories than others!
Here are 20 updates on the cast of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” plus a few fun facts!
20. Dick Van Dyke
Starting us off is the man himself! Dick Van Dyke played Rob Petrie in his self-titled show. After that ended, he starred in two more comedy shows and had a few small film roles. He also broke out his chops as a member of an acapella group. He identifies as a recovering alcoholic and commonly advocates for prevention and awareness. He has been quiet in recent years, and rumors about his failing health periodically circulate.
For another cast member who is a recovery alcoholic, stay for slide 16!
19. A Real Place
“The Dick Van Dyke Show” is set in Westchester County, New York, which is just northwest of Manhattan. Specifically, it is set in the town of New Rochelle. Interestingly enough, this town actually exists! It is considered to be an affluent area with strong family values. Sounds like the perfect place for this type of show to take place!
18. Black and White
“The Dick Van Dyke Show” was the last television series to be filmed entirely in black and white. Season six was scheduled to be shot in color, but the production team decided to end the show after season five. So, there are no color episodes of this American classic!
CBS originally cancelled the series after one season. The producers reportedly went to the Proctor & Gamble Company to ask them to sponsor the show’s further production. They agreed to pay for half a season, and cigarette maker Lorrilard agreed to pay for the other half. We’re sure CBS executives were kicking themselves after seeing the show have a ridiculously successful five-season run!
16. Mary Tyler Moore
After her stint as Laura Petrie ended, Mary Tyler Moore had her own show- “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Amazingly, her show was awarded twenty nine Emmy Awards! She has written two memoirs in which she detailed her struggle with alcoholism and her journey towards recovery. She suffers from Type I diabetes, kidney failure, and legal blindness. For the story of how she and her on-screen husband met, go to slide 2!
15. Breaking Character
No matter what, Disney World cast members cannot break character while they’re in costume. This is to avoid “breaking the magic” that the guest feel while they’re in the park. Stay tuned for a funny quip from cast members!
14. The Parade Route
The most common question asked of cast members at Walt Disney World is (try not to laugh) “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?” Cast members say that, even after quitting, they are NEVER able to forget what time that iconic parade is and its exact route.
13. Larry Matthews
Larry Matthews (second on left) had a brief stint as Richie Petrie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” After that, he grew up and went to college at The University of California- Los Angeles. He is now a successful businessman and does not work as an actor. But, he often appears on television programs discussing his time as a child actor.
In Season Three of the show, the Petrie couple purchases a painting that they later both decide is “absolutely horrid.” They destroy the painting in a fit of frustration, only to later find out that the artist was none other than singer Frank Sinatra! The name on the painting was “Artanis,” or “Sinatra” spelled backwards.
11. Ann Morgan Guilbert
Ann Morgan Guilbert delighted viewers as neighbor Millie Helper. After the wrap party, she pursued a career as a stage actor, working both on and off Broadway. She also appeared in several indie films that were aired at film festivals. Unfortunately, she died in June, 2016, after a long battle with cancer.
10. Rose Marie
Rose Marie, who played Sally Rogers on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” is ninety two years old now and lives in New York City. But, when she was still working, she was a hard-hitting writer on “The Alan Brady Show” and had a recurring role in “Murphy Brown.”
During the show’s filming, actress Mary Tyler Moore began to experience some unexplained medical symptoms like dizziness, fainting, weight loss, a parched mouth, and fatigue. She was preparing to quit the show for good when she was finally diagnosed with Type I diabetes. After this, she was able to control her illness with careful blood sugar monitoring!
8. So Close!
The producers of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” almost didn’t cast Dick Van Dyke in his own show! After the pilot, they contacted actor Johnny Carson, and he said he would take on the role, but last-minute conversations among the production team led to Van Dyke keeping the part. It’s crazy to think about what would have happened if Johnny Carson had taken the job!
7. “Head of the Family”
If Dick Van Dyke hadn’t been able to keep his leading spot on the show, its name would of course have to be changed! But, they weren’t going to call it “The Johnny Carson Show.” Carl Reiner reportedly planned to use the name “Head of the Family,” which had been the series’ working title.
6. Morey Amsterdam
Morey Amsterdam didn’t do much acting after he finished playing Buddy Sorrell on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” He periodically worked on stage and in some small film productions, but primarily lived of his royalty fees. He died in 1996 after suffering a fatal heart attack.
5. Richard Deacon
After playing make-believe producer Mel Cooley, Richard Deacon spent quite a bit of time working as a sitcom actor. He graced television screens throughout the 60s and 70s before retiring to pursue his passion for gourmet cooking. He published two cookbooks before passing away in 1984.
4. A Famous Idol
When Mary Tyler Moore took her role on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” she knew she didn’t have any comedy experience! So, she prepared for her part by studying the work of her idol, Audrey Hepburn. She says that, in the show’s early episodes, you can hear her saying some of Hepburn’s famous lines like “Oh, darling!”
In one episode of the show, Richie Petrie discovered his birth certificate and insisted that his parents tell him the meaning behind his middle name, “Rosebud.” They explained that his name was an acronym standing for Robert, Oscar, Sam, Edward, Benjamin, Ulysses, and David.
2. Dancing The Night Away
Rob and Laurie Petrie’s on-screen romance began is a super cute way! Back when Rob was in the army, Laurie was working as a USO dancer. Rob tried for weeks to get Laurie’s attention, but she wouldn’t give him the time of day until he accidentally broke her foot in a dance routine. After that, they were soulmates.
1. Jerry Paris
He had a small role as Dr. Jerry Helper in the show, but Jerry Paris’ real work was behind the camera. He frequently directed the show, and then went on to be one of Hollywood’s most prolific directors. He led up the production of “Happy Days,” and “The Partridge Family,” before dying during brain surgery in 1986 when he was sixty years old.