Formed a night club stand-up comedy act in the late 1940s with his pal from Danville, Phil Erickson. They toured the country as the slapstick, lip-synching "Merry Mutes". The act eventually broke up in 1954 and Dick went solo, finding work on New Orleans local TV.
Almost graduated from Danville High School in Danville, Illinois, in 1944.
Moved to Atlanta, Georgia, with his best friend, Phil Erickson, and wife Margie, in 1948, after he & Erickson grew weary of the West Coast circuit. This was where Marjorie gave birth to 2 sons, Christian Van Dyke and Barry Van Dyke, within a year.
Met Byron Paul in the Army, who offered him a seven-year contract with CBS in 1955.
Often hosted game shows when he was a struggling actor. He hosted "Mother's Day" (1958) and "Laugh Line" (1959) but turned down "The Price Is Right" (1956).
Is a close friend of his "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961) co-star Mary Tyler Moore.
Best known by the public for his starring roles as Rob Petrie on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961) and as Dr. Mark Sloan on "Diagnosis Murder" (1993).
Beat out Johnny Carson for the role of Rob Petrie on what later became "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961) .
Rob Petrie, Van Dyke's role on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961), was ranked #22 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [20 June 2004 issue].
His favorite "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961) episode is "The Dick Van Dyke Show: Where Did I Come From? (#1.15)" (1962).
Created most of his own comedy routines and physical schticks on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961).
Helped his ex-"The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961) co-star, Mary Tyler Moore get her own sitcom, in the 1970s.
His show "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961) was based on the series, "Head of the Family.".
Got the lead role of Rob Petrie on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961), after producer Sheldon Leonard was so impressed with Van Dyke's performance in the stage production of "Bye, Bye Birdie.".
When "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961) started, he actually had a crush on Mary Tyler Moore, who played his wife in the series.
Once rapped and danced with Michele Lee, about who would have won the People's Choice Awards in 1962.
Portrayed "Albert Peterson" in the original Broadway stage version of "Bye Bye Birdie" and reprised his role in the movie Bye Bye Birdie (1963).
The album "Songs I Like By Dick Van Dyke" was recorded on Friday, November 22, 1963. Early in the recording session the artists and orchestra were informed of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. In spite of the tragic news, and a deadline from Command Records that had to be met, the recording session continued to a successful conclusion - albeit in an emotionally-charged atmosphere. He said that he scarcely remembers the session because he was in such a state of shock after hearing the news.
The adult Broadway cast (Dick, Paul Lynde, Maureen Stapleton) who recreated their roles for the film version of Bye Bye Birdie (1963) were generally disappointed in the film. It was felt that director George Sidney placed far too much focus on Ann-Margret's teen role, a role that was secondary in the stage hit. Ann-Margret was at the time experiencing a meteoric rise in films.
His album "Songs I Like By Dick Van Dyke" (Command Records, 1963), released at the height of his TV success and just before the release of Mary Poppins (1964), was actually a best-seller, remaining on Billboard's top-40 albums chart for several weeks in late 1963-early 1964.
In his 30s and 40s he had a talent for playing crotchety, eccentric old men. He played this kind of role in Mary Poppins (1964) as "Mr. Dawes Sr." and in a "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961) episode where he played one of Rob Petrie's elderly relatives.
Won Broadway's 1961 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Musical) for "Bye, Bye Birdie" and a Grammy Award for the Mary Poppins (1964) soundtrack.
Says that his most memorable role is that of Bert the chimney-sweep in Mary Poppins (1964).
His cockney accent in Mary Poppins (1964) was so heavily criticized that it may have cost him a Best Leading Actor Academy Award nomination the following year.
In Britain, his attempt at a Cockney accent in Mary Poppins (1964) is so notorious that a "Dick Van Dyke accent" is an accepted slang term for an American's unsuccessful attempt at a British accent. Despite that, he is quite popular in Britain.
Actively campaigned in Democrat Pierre Salinger's losing 1964 fight for senator against Republican George Murphy.
Although highly praised for his dancing in Mary Poppins (1964) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), Van Dyke was never trained as a dancer and did not begin dancing until he was in his thirties.
In 1968 he left Hollywood and bought a ranch in Arizona.
Played Lionel Jeffries's son in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) even though Jeffries is actually six months his junior.
He was nearly cast as Fagin in Oliver! (1968) since the Columbia producers felt that Ron Moody, who had played the part in the London stage version, wasn't famous enough to attract movie audiences. Van Dyke ultimately chose to star in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) instead.
Is a staunch Democrat and a vocal supporter of gun control. Attended some fundraisers for Eugene McCarthy in the 1968 Democratic primaries.
Overcame alcoholism in the 1970s.
Went into semi-retirement in the mid-1970s.
At the beginning of the third season, "The New Dick Van Dyke Show" (1971) had moved production from Phoenix to Hollywood, where the change made a big improvement in the ratings, but was canceled because he no longer enjoyed working away from his home and did not want to continue the show without Carl Reiner.
Lived with Michelle Triola from 1976 until her death in 2009.
Was offered the role of Ambassador Thorn in The Omen (1976) before it went to Gregory Peck, but turned it down because of the film's violent and gory content.
Separated from his wife, Margie Willett, after 30 years of marriage - they would later divorce in 1984.
By the late 1980s it seemed that Van Dyke's career was over. However, his acclaimed performance as the District Attorney in Dick Tracy (1990) led to "Diagnosis Murder" (1993), which proved to be a big television comeback for the 67-year-old star.
Attended Michael Landon's funeral in 1991.
He finally received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1992. But when the star was unveiled, his name was misspelled on the star as "VANDYKE". Being a good sport he laughed, took a pen and drew a slash between "VAN" and "DYKE". The star was corrected soon after.
His mother, Hazel McCord Van Dyke, died at age 95, in 1992.
Son Barry Van Dyke and grandson Carey Van Dyke also worked on "Diagnosis Murder" (1993) with him. Sons Barry and Christian Van Dyke also appeared in "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961) episode, "The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Talented Neighborhood (#1.19)" (1962). The storyline showed Dick visiting son Ritchie's grade school class for "Daddy's Day", when fathers visited the classroom to explain what they did for a living.
Daughter Stacy Van Dyke guest starred on "Diagnosis Murder" (1993), in "Diagnosis Murder: Murder in the Family (#4.12)" (1996). Grandson Shane Van Dyke guest-starred in 14 episodes of "Diagnosis Murder" (1993).
Is one of the two actors to have appeared in every episode of "Diagnosis Murder" (1993).
His "Diagnosis Murder" (1993) co-star, Charlie Schlatter, would reprise his role on an episode of "The Sopranos" (1999), in 2000.
His future "Diagnosis Murder" (1993) co-star and son, Barry Van Dyke, is associated with his father's productions, and other shows. He began working alongside his father, since he was 10.
Received a phone call from his son and future "Diagnosis Murder" (1993) co-star, Barry Van Dyke, who asked him to play Dr. Mark Sloan, which he accepted after guest-starring on an episode of "Jake and the Fatman" (1987).
He threatened to leave his role on "Diagnosis Murder" (1993), at the end of the second season, but CBS insisted that he came back, which fortunately he did, and stayed on the show, for the next six seasons.
Remained good friends with son Barry Van Dyke, Victoria Rowell and Charlie Schlatter during and after "Diagnosis Murder" (1993).
In July 1999 he was made an honorary life member of The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA), Inc. at their annual International Convention in Anaheim, California. He has sung in an a cappella quartet called "The Vantastix" since 2000. The group released a children's album in 2008.
Became a great-grandfather on July 26, 2001, when his grandson Carey Van Dyke (Barry Van Dyke's oldest child) and his wife Anne Van Dyke had a baby girl named Ava Van Dyke.
Dabbled in computer animation since the 1980s. Using Newtek's Lightwave 3D from home, he created and animated a CG version of himself that he danced with on The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited (2004) (TV).
Is a fan of "The Office" (2005).
Met makeup artist, Arlene Silver, at the SAG Awards in 2006, where, he was bowled over by her beauty. Six years later, he married her.
His ex-wife, Marjory Willett, died in 2008.
Underwent spinal surgery in April 2011.
Was about to open at a theater, and what was supposed to be a one-man show, with his quartet backing him up, but was canceled because of his torn Achilles heel in 2011.