CBS Special Celebrates Dick Van Dyke’s 98th Birthday & His Legendary Career
Iconic actor/entertainer Dick Van Dyke turned 98 on Dec. 13 (he was born Richard Wayne Van Dyke on Dec. 13, 1925, in West Plains, Missouri), and CBS is celebrating the beloved star’s more than 70 years in film and television, and onstage, with Dick Van Dyke: 98 Years of Magic, a two-hour special airing Thursday, Dec. 21. The program will honor Van Dyke for his incredible contributions to the arts and entertainment, which have inspired generations of performers and made millions of viewers smile.
“I started with CBS under contract in 1955 with the CBS morning show,” Van Dyke said when this special was announced, “then The Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis: Murder. I’ve been with the CBS family for almost 70 years, and I couldn’t be prouder. I’m incredibly honored that CBS will be throwing a 98th birthday special for me. Can’t wait to be part of the show!”
A multitalented all-around entertainer, Van Dyke has especially shone in music and comedy. Beginning his famed career on the stage, he made his Broadway debut in the 1959 musical The Girls Against the Boys, before moving on to a bigger stage opportunity: the lead role of Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie, which ran in 1960-61 and won Van Dyke a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He reprised the character when Bye Bye Birdie was adapted into a movie in 1963.
The following year, he again displayed his comic timing and musical talent in more enduring film appearances, taking on dual roles (as chimney sweep Bert and bank chairman Mr. Dawes Sr.) alongside Julie Andrews in Disney’s live-action/animated 1964 classic Mary Poppins. He received a Golden Globe nomination for the film and was among several (including Andrews) who won a Grammy for the Mary Poppins soundtrack album. Van Dyke reunited with Mary Poppins’ songwriters and choreographers a few years later for another memorable big-screen musical fantasy, 1968’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Of course, by the time Van Dyke was making these films, he had already become a household name on the small screen, thanks to his sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show. Running from 1961-66, the series featured Van Dyke as comedy show writer Rob Petrie, with Mary Tyler Moore as his wife, Laura, one of the great pairings in television history, comedy or otherwise. The classic series was a great showcase for Van Dyke’s brilliant talents at both verbal humor and slapstick; he won three of the four Emmys for which he was nominated.
Three decades later, Van Dyke entertained fans old and new with another popular series, Diagnosis: Murder (1993-2001). A mix of comedy, mystery and crime drama, the show starred Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves crimes with the help of his son Steve, a homicide detective who was played by the star’s real-life son, Barry Van Dyke.
Those are just a few of the highlights from Van Dyke’s storied career that will be celebrated in CBS’ tribute, which will feature dazzling music and dance spectacles, heartfelt performances, special guests, a magical holiday number and even a trip back in time to the iconic Dick Van Dyke Show set. Additionally, the program will showcase songs and archival footage from Mary Poppins, Bye Bye Birdie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and more.