On Tuesday's Morning Edition, Dick Van Dyke talks to Renee Montagne about his new book, My Lucky Life In And Out Of Show Business, and touches on everything from the beginning of his career in television to the eulogy he gave at the funeral of one of his heroes, Stan Laurel.
As he tells the story, Van Dyke was on Broadway in Bye Bye Birdie in 1959 when he got a visit from Carl Reiner, who was working on a new TV show called Head Of The Family. At that time, Reiner was lined up to play Rob Petrie, the character Van Dyke ended up making famous on what became The Dick Van Dyke Show. Reiner eventually built much of Van Dyke's personality into the character Rob Petrie became, and you'll hear a clip of an episode that came straight out of Van Dyke's real life after he became convinced that he heard a burglar downstairs. The story involves a gun, a ballerina, and "The Blue Danube Waltz."
No discussion about The Dick Van Dyke Show would be complete without a mention of Mary Tyler Moore (she of the iconic capri pants), and here, Van Dyke reveals that the TV couple found themselves told by a psychiatrist at one point that they had crushes on each other — which he admits is true, though he says nothing came of this "mutual attraction."
Finally, he talks about meeting Stan Laurel, one of his idols, and revealing that he'd been copying Laurel in his physical comedy for years — only to hear, "Yes, I know." He later gave the eulogy at Laurel's funeral and inherited a hat for his trouble — and he inherited a memento from Buster Keaton, too.
You can also check out Van Dyke playing "Not My Job" on Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! last October.