Dick van Dyke: Time Marches On, But He Hasn’t Lost a Step
What’s rarer in Hollywood than naturally platinum-blonde hair?
An actor who’s worked steadily for more than 60 years, with the musical, dancing and comedic talents worthy of a Grammy, a Tony and five Emmy awards.
Who, with Carl Reiner, Mary Tyler Moore and a brilliant supporting cast, gave us the groundbreaking TV comedy that let its leading lady do housework in capris instead of a shirtwaist and pearls.
Who at age 68 started a weekly TV series that lasted until he was 76.
And who, at 92, joined Glee’s Jane Lynch to record We’re Going Caroling, showing off the same mellow baritone and soft-shoe moves we remember from times gone by.
His dark hair is snow-white now. And time has whittled 3 inches from his once 6’1” frame. But as he approaches his 94th birthday on December 13, Dick van Dyke’s irrepressible smile and twinkling eyes haven’t aged a day.
How does he pull it off?
He Keeps Moving, Among Other Things
In 2015, with his 90th birthday approaching, Dick’s publishers share his secrets for aging gracefully. The result was Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging.
His #1 secret? Staying active. Every day at 6 a.m., he’s out the door of his Malibu home, into his Lexus Infiniti and on his way to the gym.
He’s regularly spotted dancing down the aisles of his local grocery. He also enjoys spontaneous — and frequent — song-and-dance routines with his lovely wife, Arlene Silver.
The only difference between today and when he cavorted as Bert the chimney sweep in 1965’s Mary Poppins? “I can still dance, but it hurts now.”
He exercises his brain by completing the New York Times crossword in ink and exploring new religious and philosophical topics. For Dick, keeping an open mind is an essential part of staying young,
And he’s learned to manage two deadly habits. He struggled with alcoholism for nearly 25 years before getting sober. Two stints at rehab failed, but he was finally able to quit when the liquor started making him sick.
To this day, however, he needs Nicorette gum to keep from returning to a two-pack-a-day habit he gave up in 2003.
Still, for Mr. Smooth Mover Life Has Had Its Rough Patches
After his companion of 30 years, Michelle Triola, succumbed to cancer, he says “I thought, ‘I’ll probably spend the rest of my life by myself.’”
And he’s seen too many of his contemporaries — including Rock Hudson, Paul Newman and Jack Lemmon — pass on. As a consequence, he does most of his socializing with Boomer and Gen-X friends.
Two Old Troupers Together Again
Only Dame Angela Lansbury, his senior by about two months, has matched Dick for professional longevity. For 60-plus cinema lovers, seeing them together as Mrs. Potts, the floating Balloon Lady, and Mr. Dawes Jr., the desktop-dancing hoofer, in last year’s Mary Poppins Returns was aonce-in-a-lifetime treat.
Mr. Dawes’ song couldn’t have asked for a better singer:
“When they tell you that you’re finished,
and your chance to dance is done,
that’s the time to stand, to strike up the band,
and tell ’em that you’ve just begun!”
On the days when you dread moving because “it hurts now,” take those words to heart.
What are your favorite Dick van Dyke memories? What steps are you taking to stay young in bodym, mind and spirit? Let’s have a conversation!