Dick Van Dyke Age, Career And Personal

When Dick Van Dyke recently entered Television City, a TV studio owned by CBS in Los Angeles, he thought he was simply there for another press interview. Instead, he was greeted with one of the …

When Dick Van Dyke recently entered Television City, a TV studio owned by CBS in Los Angeles, he thought he was simply there for another press interview. Instead, he was greeted with one of the biggest surprises of his life: the taping of “Dick Van Dyke: 98 Years of Magic.” This dazzling, two-hour CBS special featured archival footage and live performances of songs from Van Dyke’s distinguished, decades-long career.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Van Dyke, who turns 98 on Wednesday, admitted that watching the event was surreal. “You think, ‘I don’t deserve this,’ but it’s difficult to say how I felt,” he said. “I came home, and I said, ‘You know something? It’s going to be a couple of days before this actually sinks in that it happened.’ I never expected that kind of recognition. My whole life went before me. I didn’t realize I had done so many things while I was 75 years in show business.”

What Were the Highlights of the Tribute?

For the Emmy, Grammy, and SAG Award-winning entertainer, the tribute’s highlights included perfectly recreated song and dance routines of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s “Me Ol’ Bamboo.” “I was just blown away,” Van Dyke commented.

How Did Van Dyke Begin His Career?

Born in West Plains, Missouri, on Dec. 13, 1925, and raised in Danville, Illinois, Van Dyke started out in radio and on Broadway. He landed his breakthrough role on Carl Reiner’s “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which ran from 1961 to 1966 and starred Mary Tyler Moore as his wife. The sitcom catapulted both Van Dyke and Moore to stardom and earned them Emmy Awards.

What Were Some of Van Dyke’s Notable Roles?

While shooting “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” Van Dyke joined Julie Andrews, Karen Dotrice, and Matthew Garber in Walt Disney Pictures’ now-classic “Mary Poppins.” The 1964 film “was special,” he told PEOPLE in 2011. “I loved working with kids. You do a lot of clowning and get to know them.”

After “Mary Poppins,” Van Dyke appeared in a string of film roles, including “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Dick Tracy,” as well as TV parts. From 1993 to 2001, he played Dr. Mark Sloan, a teaching physician who solved crimes in his spare time, in the CBS crime drama “Diagnosis: Murder.”

What Are Some Recent Appearances by Van Dyke?

In recent years, Van Dyke appeared in 2006’s “Night at the Museum” and 2018’s “Mary Poppins Returns.” This year alone, he appeared in “Days of Our Lives” as an amnesiac, “The Masked Singer” as Gnome, and “The Simpsons” as himself. Despite his age, Van Dyke continues to stay busy and active in the entertainment industry.

How Has Van Dyke Balanced His Personal Life?

While Van Dyke proved a prolific entertainer, he found time for a thriving personal life. He welcomed four children — Christian, Barry, Stacy, and Carrie Beth — with his late ex-wife Margerie Willett, to whom he was married for 36 years. In 2012, he wed Arlene Silver, a makeup artist, after meeting her at the SAG Awards six years prior.

“I just went up and said, ‘Hi, I’m Dick.’ I don’t know how I got the courage,” he recalls. “Anyway, we ended up married. She sings like an angel. She dances, and we do a whole act together. We do duets and things. She’s the best partner I ever ran into. What a pleasure it is.”

How Does Van Dyke Plan to Celebrate His 98th Birthday?

Van Dyke plans on spending his actual birthday in a low-key fashion, surrounded by several of his grandchildren. “I’m not much on traditions, I don’t think,” he explains. Despite his modest plans, Van Dyke finds joy and gratitude in his daily life. “My wife brings me a cup of coffee in the morning. I get it in bed. I get treated like a king around here,” he says, referring to his Southern California home.

What Challenges Does Van Dyke Face as a Nonagenarian?

If there’s one rare “sad moment” in Van Dyke’s life at the moment, it’s the challenge many nonagenarians face: outliving many of his friends. The entertainer recently lost Norman Lear, who died at the age of 101 on Dec. 5. “I had a bunch of friends there to say nice things, but Mary Tyler Moore, Morey [Amsterdam], and Rosie [Rose Marie], Carl Reiner, Norman Lear, all the people that I always loved and associated with are gone, so I’m having to make new friends,” he admits.

How Does Van Dyke Stay Social?

Fortunately, the acting legend doesn’t have to go far to make new friends. “I’m happy to say people come to me,” he adds. “I don’t have to go out looking.”

Dick Van Dyke’s life and career have spanned nearly a century, filled with unforgettable performances and personal milestones. As he celebrates his 98th birthday, he reflects on his remarkable journey with humility and gratitude, continuing to inspire audiences around the world.

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