Dick Van Dyke could always dance. That pratfall he took in the opening of The Dick Van Dyke Show was very much an example of his ability to control his body. At age 89, he can still cut a rug far more gracefully than I have ever done. He’s featured in a recent music video by a bluegrass band, Dust Bowl Revival.
Mary Poppins is one of my favorite movies of all time. Despite Dick Van Dyke’s horrible attempt at a cockney accent, I enjoy him in that picture. He always seemed like a decent guy. As it turns out, he was, for the most part, a decent guy. He famously told his agent that he wanted to make movies that he could watch with his kids and not feel embarrassed.
In his autobiography, he explained his reasoning:
I wanted to be able to talk about my work at the dinner table and hold my head up on Sundays when my wife and I led our children into the Brentwood Presbyterian Church, where I was an elder. You were not going to see me acting up at Hollywood parties. For the most part, you weren’t going to see me at any Hollywood parties. I stayed home.
Unfortunately, this decent guy is not still with that wife or that church, but the joy for life is still apparent in his face. (Does that have something to do with being married to a woman 45 years his junior? Not sure.)
I’d love to have that sort of energy and mobility when I’m 89. Frankly, there are some days when I envy him those things when I’m almost 40 years younger.