Dick Van Dyke shares key to living well for 98th birthday: ‘Just keep moving’

Dick Van Dyke is staying active as he celebrates his 98th birthday.

Ahead of his birthday on Wednesday, the TV legend shared his key to “living well” with his fans on Instagram. On Sunday, Van Dyke posted a video of him performing a few dance steps with a cane in a dressing room.

Just keep moving,” the caption said. 

“Dick’s secrets to living well: Positivity, don’t go down the stairs sideways, and just keep moving!”

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The video was shot backstage as Van Dyke prepared for his upcoming birthday special, “Dick Van Dyke 98 Years of Magic.” 

In another recent backstage video, Van Dyke praised his wife Arlene Silver, 52, whom he married in February 2012.

“You look like a movie star,” the entertainer told Silver in a clip photographer Laura Johansen shared on her Instagram story, via People magazine.

Another voice could be heard asking, “Doesn’t she?”

“She really does, doesn’t she?” Van Dyke said. In the video, Van Dyke was seated in a chair as he exchanged smiles with Silver, who wore a navy blue gown with a cape as she stood across the dressing room. 

“I saw her first!” Van Dyke joked.

On Leap Day in 2012, Van Dyke, then 86, and Silver, then 40, tied the knot during a private ceremony in Malibu. The pair first met at the 2007 SAG Awards when she was working as a makeup artist and he was presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Julie Andrews.

Van Dyke was previously married to his high school sweetheart, Margie Willet, for more than three decades. In 1948, the two tied the knot on the ABC series “Bride and Groom,” but they separated in 1976 and divorced in 1984. Van Dyke and Willet, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2008, shared sons Barry and Christian and daughters Stacy and Carrie Beth.

The performer was in a relationship with actress Michelle Triola from 1976 until her death from lung cancer in 2009.

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On Nov. 16, CBS announced the network would air “Dick Van Dyke 98 Years of Magic” Dec. 21. The two-hour special will celebrate Van Dyke’s decades-long career on the stage and screen.

“Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award winner Van Dyke is one of the most beloved and legendary stars,” an official press release for the event said.

“He has inspired generations of performers and will be honored for his incredible contributions to the arts and entertainment.”

According to the press release, the special will feature music and dance spectacles, special guests, performances and a holiday number and clips of archival footage from Van Dyke’s career.

“I started with CBS under contract in 1955 with the CBS morning show, then ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ and ‘Diagnosis Murder,’” Van Dyke said in a statement. “I’ve been with the CBS family for almost 70 years, and I couldn’t be prouder. I’m incredibly honored that CBS will be throwing a 98th birthday special for me. Can’t wait to be part of the show.”

In honor of Van Dyke’s milestone birthday, here’s a look at the highlights from his more than seven-decade career in entertainment.

In February, Van Dyke became the oldest contestant to appear on the FOX singing competition series “The Masked Singer.” 

After being unmasked as the Gnome, he received a standing ovation from the stunned judges and audience.

“When I was young, I really was hoping to make a living. What happened to me was such a surprise,” Van Dyke told People magazine in February 2023. “The successes I’ve had, I still can’t get over it.”

Van Dyke has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades over the years. He has won a Tony Award, a Grammy Award, four Primetime Emmy Awards, a Daytime Emmy Award, a BAFTA Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. 

He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Disney Legends Hall of Fame in 1998. Van Dyke received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012 and was recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2021.

“I’ve knocked around in this business for 70 years, and I still haven’t quite figured out what it is that I do,” Van Dyke said while receiving his SAG Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, via the Hollywood Reporter. 

“But the years have just been full of surprises for me and a lot of fun. Aren’t we lucky to have found a line of work that doesn’t require growing up? I love that.”

After launching his entertainment career in 1947, Van Dyke worked as a radio DJ and performed as one-half of the comedy pantomine duo, the Merry Mutes, alongside Philip Erickson. 

For most of the 1950s, he worked in television as a comedian, emcee and anchorman. Van Dyke’s Broadway debut came in 1959 when he landed a small role in the musical revue “The Boys Against Girls.”

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Van Dyke made his career breakthrough when he played the lead role of songwriter Albert Peterson in the original Broadway production of “Bye Bye Birdie.” Inspired by Elvis Presley’s 1957 conscription into the U.S. Army, the musical follows Peterson and his secretary Rosie (Chita Rivera) as they attempt to pull off a lucrative publicity stunt after their rock star client receives his draft notice.

“Bye Bye Birdie” enjoyed both critical and commercial success. In 1961, the musical was nominated for seven Tony Awards with Van Dyke winning for best actor in a musical.

Van Dyke’s success on Broadway led to his casting as comedy TV writer Rob Petrie in the CBS sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Created by Carl Reiner, the show followed Petrie as he balanced the demands of his show business career and his family life in the suburbs with his wife Laura, played by Mary Tyler Moore, and their young son.

After initially struggling with low ratings, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” became a hit and made Van Dyke a household name. He won three back-to-back Emmy Awards for his performance as Petrie, with the show winning a total of 15 Emmy Awards. 

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Moore’s career also soared after “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” and the actress later starred in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which ran for five seasons from 1961 to 1966, is considered an enduring classic.

“I think the five years on ‘The Van Dyke Show’ with Carl and Mary was the most fun I’ve ever had,” Van Dyke said while reflecting on his career highlights in a 2021 interview with Al Roker on the “Today” show. 

In 1963, Van Dyke made his feature film debut when he reprised his Broadway role in the movie adaptation of “Bye Bye Birdie,” starring alongside Janet Leigh and Ann-Margret. 

The following year, he memorably portrayed chimney sweep Bert as well as bank chairman Mr. Dawes Senior in Walt Disney’s beloved 1964 musical film “Mary Poppins.” Van Dyke and his “Mary Poppins” co-star Julie Andrew won the Grammy Award for best children’s album in 1965. He also received a best actor Golden Globe nomination for his performance.

In a 2020 interview on “Bullseye with Jesse Thorn,” Van Dyke reflected on the magic of “Mary Poppins.” 

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“We all felt it. Almost every day, there was something magical happening,” he said. “We couldn’t wait to come to work. Even though it was hard. Some of the dances nearly killed me at that time. But I just — we all knew. It just was gonna be a good movie.” 

Van Dyke is also beloved for his portrayal of the eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts in the 1968 musical “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” His film credits include “The Comic,” “Dick Tracy,” “Night at the Museum” and “Night at the Smithsonian: Secret of the Tomb,” among others.

Van Dyke has authored two bestselling memoirs, 2011’s “My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business” and 2015’s “Keep Moving.” In “My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business,” Van Dyke detailed the highs and lows of his career in entertainment and candidly opened up about his personal life.

After the success of his first memoir, Van Dyke reflected on embracing aging and shared his tips for living well later in life in “Keep Moving,” which was published ahead of his 90th birthday.

“Why is it amazing that I don’t act my age? Why should I act my age? Or more to the point, how is someone my age supposed to act? Old age is part fact, part state of mind, part luck, and wholly something best left for other people to ponder, not you or me,” he wrote.

“Why waste your time? I don’t.”

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