Dick Van Dyke has been a beloved figure in Hollywood for decades. He’s starred in countless films, TV shows, and Broadway productions, and his easygoing charm and impeccable comedic timing have made him a fan favorite. But despite his long career in the spotlight, there are still some surprising and lesser-known facts about this iconic actor. Here are five weird Dick Van Dyke facts you’re dying to know:
His real name isn’t Dick Van Dyke
That’s right – the man we all know and love as Dick Van Dyke was born Richard Wayne Van Dyke. So how did he get his stage name? It turns out that early in his career, he was advised by a fellow performer to change his last name to something that was easier to remember and pronounce. Van Dyke took this advice to heart and chose his new surname by looking through the phone book. He settled on “Van Dyke” because he liked the way it sounded.
But here’s the really fun part: his original last name was actually “Von Dyke.” He changed it to “Van Dyke” because he thought it looked better on a marquee. Who knew that such a small change could make such a big difference?
He was almost not cast in Mary Poppins
It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the lovable Bert in the classic Disney film Mary Poppins, but believe it or not, Dick Van Dyke was initially rejected for the role. When he first auditioned, the film’s producers told him that he wasn’t right for the part because of his American accent. But Van Dyke was determined to be a part of the project, so he went to great lengths to convince the filmmakers that he could pull off a convincing Cockney accent.
He eventually won them over with his boundless energy and enthusiasm, and the rest is history. His performance in Mary Poppins remains one of his most beloved roles, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else bringing the character of Bert to life quite like he did.
He has a special talent for pantomime
One of the lesser-known facets of Dick Van Dyke’s career is his talent for pantomime. For those who aren’t familiar, pantomime is a performance art that involves conveying a story or emotion without using words – essentially, it’s acting without dialogue. Van Dyke honed his skills in pantomime early on in his career, and he’s used them to great effect in many of his roles over the years.
One of his most famous pantomime performances was in an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show where he played a man who was trying to get ready for work without waking up his wife. The entire scene is done without any dialogue, and it’s a perfect showcase of his physical comedy skills.
He almost had a very different career
It’s hard to imagine Dick Van Dyke doing anything other than performing, but believe it or not, he almost pursued a very different career path. When he was growing up, he had aspirations of becoming a minister. He even attended a seminary for a time before ultimately deciding that the religious life wasn’t for him.
After leaving the seminary, Van Dyke enrolled in college with the intention of becoming a radio announcer. But fate intervened when he discovered his love for acting, and he ended up pursuing a career in show business instead. We’re certainly glad he did!
He’s a huge fan of technology
Despite being in his nineties, Dick Van Dyke remains an active participant in modern technology. He’s an avid Twitter user, and he frequently posts about everything from politics to pop culture. He’s also a big fan of the Amazon Echo, and he’s even used it to create his own custom alarm clock that wakes him up to the sound of birds singing.
But perhaps his most impressive technological feat is his involvement in a project that aims to make life easier for people with hearing loss. Van Dyke has teamed up with a company called Nuheara to develop a pair of earbuds that can amplify sound and reduce background noise, making it easier for people with hearing loss to hear in crowded environments. It’s an inspiring example of how even in his nineties, Dick Van Dyke remains committed to using his fame and influence for good.