When The Dick Van Dyke Show premiered in 1961, it instantly became an American comedy 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 die-hard fans still watch the 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 some slides that are chock-full of photos of the cast then and now, some fun facts, and interesting tidbits about The Dick Van Dyke Show. All of the actors have had impressive careers since then, but some are more interesting stories than others! Presenting the biggest updates on the cast of The Dick Van Dyke Show, plus a few fun facts!
The Man Himself: Dick Van Dyke
Starting us off is the man himself! Dick Van Dyke played Rob Petrie on his self-titled show. After the series ended, he starred in two more comedy shows and a few small film roles but is most remembered for his role as the lovable and goofy chimney sweep Bert in Mary Poppins. He also broke out his chops as a member of an acapella group. Van Dyke started identifying 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.
Let’s Go to Westchester County!
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. 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!
Feeling Nostalgic for Black and White TV?
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! The show has since been colorized for a special broadcast on CBS.
Mary Tyler Moore Stole America’s Heart
After her stint as Laura Petrie ended, Mary Tyler Moore got her own series — The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Amazingly, her show was awarded twenty-nine Emmy Awards! Moore wrote two memoirs in which she detailed her struggles with alcoholism and her journey towards recovery. She suffered from Type I diabetes, kidney failure, and legal blindness. Sadly, Moore died at the age of 80, in January 2017. In an announcement, her publicist said, “Mary will be remembered as a fearless visionary who turned the world on with her smile.”
In the show’s last episode, Rob accidentally calls Mel by the name of “Alan.” Apparently, the producers didn’t catch the mistake until after the show went to post-production, so they left the error in the episode. It’s pretty funny and a great shout-out to one of the show’s stars.
Some Shameless Self-Promotion
In one of the show’s episodes, one of Petrie’s relatives inherits, “30,000 shares in Calvada Cotton.” This was a tribute to the show’s production company (also called Calvada). There’s nothing wrong with a little shameless self-promotion, right? Throwing in a reference to a brand like this was a common way to promote products back in the day.
What Ever Happened to Richie?
Larry Matthews (second from the 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.
The Secret Code: Artanis
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 backward.
Ann Morgan Guilbert’s Career on Stage
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 of 2016, after a long battle with cancer.
Rose Marie Started Writing
Rose Marie, who played Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show, is ninety-three 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.
Health Problems on Set
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!
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.
What’s in a Name?
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.
Morey Amsterdam Loved Royalties
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 off of his royalty fees. He died in 1996 after suffering a fatal heart attack.
Richard Deacon’s Unlikely Publishing Career
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.
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!”
The Meaning of Rosebud
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.
Dancing the Night Away
Rob and Laurie Petrie’s on-screen romance began in 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.
Jerry Paris Behind the Scenes
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 much of the production of Happy Days and The Partridge Family before dying during brain surgery in 1986 when he was sixty years old.
CBS originally canceled the series after one season since it wasn’t very successful during it’s first 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!