Dick Van Dyke was born on December 13, 1925, in West Plains, Missouri. When stenographer Hazel Victoria and salesman Loren Wayne Van Dyke welcomed newborn Dick, they never would have expected their son to go on to become a famous actor, comedian, singer, dancer, writer, and producer! Of course, they never could have expected his little brother, Jerry, would go on to become a famous actor, too! In honor of Dick’s 92nd birthday, we’ve decided to find five of the most interesting facts about his life that we could.
1. Although Dick Van Dyke attended high school in the early 1940s, he didn’t graduate until 2004! in 1944 when he was a senior, he left his Danville (Illinois) High School in hopes of joining the United States Air Force and becoming a pilot. He was rejected multiple times due to being underweight, but was finally allowed to enlist in the service as a radio announcer! From there, he was transferred to the Special Services and began to entertain troops in the continental U.S. When he went back to his high school in 2004 to see their production of “Bye Bye Birdie,” they awarded him with an honorary high school diploma!
2. His parents lied to him about his birthday for 18 years! When Dick Van Dyke told his mother that he wanted to enlist in the military, she was forced to tell him that he’d been born months earlier. Originally, he’d always believed that he’d been born in March of 1926! It wasn’t until he asked his grandmother for the truth, that she told him he had been born out of wedlock! His mother had tried to disguise the truth from him to hide the stigma that often went along with it all.
3. Dick Van Dyke has four children! Dick had four children with his first wife, Margerie Willett, before they divorced in 1984. Their children, Christian, Barry, Stacy, and Carrie Beth, are now all grown up and living lives that make their father proud. Christian even went on to become the district attorney for Marion County, Oregon in the 1980’s. Barry is also a successful actor, in his own right. Since then, Dick Van Dyke has become the grandfather to seven wonderful children. Sadly, one of his granddaughters, Jessica Van Dyke, passed away in 1987 from Reye’s Syndrome, which led to him doing a series of commercials raising awareness about the dangers of aspirin to children.
4. He still hasn’t retired! In the 1970s, Dick went into semi-retirement, but he still loves to take part in new acts, television shows, and movies whenever he can. He often says that he is “having the best so-called retirement of anyone I know, doing what I love doing.” We’re sure that there are many more years of fun Dick Van Dyke work to come!
5. As a young kid, he often considered becoming a minister! His maternal family was extremely religious, and he began to study The Bible. Every summer, he attended Bible School, and although he wished to have been at home playing with his friends, he enjoyed learning about The Bible. When he was 11 years old, he decided to read the entire Bible, and he read it slowly, often asking his mother or grandmother questions. When he completed it, his family would often brag about how awesome he was. Eventually, his high school drama class helped him decide that acting was the career for him.