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Biography #2 (for Diagnosis Murder)

Dick Van Dyke plays a good-natured, offbeat physician who occasionally works for the police department as a consultant in Diagnosis Murder.

Dick Van Dyke is one of America's most adored comedians. Sophistication, dignity, kind-hearted warmth, brilliant comedic timing, and a capacity to propel audiences of all ages into belly-aching laughter has made Dick Van Dyke a revered legend in his own lifetime.

Mary Tyler Moore put it best, "Despite his lack of ego and paranoia, the usual requirements for cultivating genius, the seemingly uncomplicated all-around good guy that is Dick Van Dyke is also a genius." (TV Guide 12/14/96)

Dick Van Dyke's career is built on a creative comedic flair that seems to giggle up inside him before combusting spontaneously. Spanning five decades, his career has been marked with illustrious kudos. Appearing in Bye Bye Birdie on the Broadway stage catapulted him into the spotlight where he has remained.

It would be remiss not to mention four Emmys, two for The Dick Van Dyke Show and two other statues for Van Dyke & Company, a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, Bye Bye Birdie, a Grammy along with the cast, for Best Children's Recording, Mary Poppins and a People's Choice Award.

There also was the Theater World Award for Bye Bye Birdie and let's not forget his induction into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1995 or the 1998 Disney Legends Awards, commemorating Disney's 75th anniversary where Van Dyke was honored for his performance in Uncle Walt's (as the comedian liked to distinguish him) big budget musical Mary Poppins.

All that said, Dick Van Dyke is a remarkably humble man with a supreme ability to make people smile and do that which networks appreciate the most, keep the audience's hands off the remote. He's approachable, respectful and understated and everyone adores being part of his productions.

Six-foot-one and all heart he's a master of physical comedy. It comes as no surprise that one of his idols was the great clown of slapstick, Stan Laurel. When Laurel died in 1966, Dick Van Dyke delivered his eulogy. In February of 1993, Dick Van Dyke was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. It's inspiring that it just happens to be near his mentor's. He had an unsuccessful false start in advertising before securing a footing in variety performing, his path to the right livelihood. In the Air Force, a buddy named Byron Paul recognized Van Dyke's talent and persuaded him to work as the announcer of Flight Time. Byron later became a director at CBS in New York and asked Dick to audition, which led to a network contract.

While television was still in its infancy and the black and white signal was state of the art, Dick Van Dyke's personal style of savvy buffoonery was right on the cutting edge. In the 1960's sitcom that bares his name, Dick Van Dyke clowned his way into American hearts portraying Rob Petrie, the optimistically hip, comedy writer.

Written and directed by Hollywood luminary Carl Reiner, (father of director Rob Reiner) the sitcom cast included Mary Tyler Moore, playing Van Dyke's stylish suburban wife, Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam as his co-writers, and Carl Reiner, as the tyrannical television star, Alan Brady.

TV Guide reported that the entire cast was changed after the pilot was shot. (Rob Petrie was first played by Carl Reiner.) With Dick Van Dyke cast as its star, the series aired for five seasons (1961-1966) before Van Dyke made a career choice to pursue other projects. Hailed as one of the most successful sitcoms in television history, the brilliant team reunited in 1992 for the HBO telecast of Comic Relief V.

Now in his seventies, there seems to be a golden age for Dick Van Dyke and little that he cannot do. In a twist of fate, he even reigns victorious over any residue of advertising angst. The veteran actor has landed a promotional gig as the official spokesperson and mock Chairman of Nickelodean's Nick At Nite evening programming arm, pitching vintage and retro television. Dick Van Dyke emerges again to capture 90's audiences with his ageless charm as the uniquely quirky Dr. Mark Sloan, a man of medicine with a proclivity for sleuthing on Diagnosis Murder.

Along with contributing to the creation of this latest inimitable series character (who developed as a spin off from the actor-comedian's guest appearance on Jake and the Fatman) Van Dyke portrayed Mark Sloan in three television movies that preceded the series: Diagnosis Murder, Twist of the Knife, and The House on Sycamore Street.

Dick is also executive producer of the Dean Hargrove and Fred Silverman series. Diagnosis Murder shoots on location and in a series house in Trancas (Malibu) and in a San Fernando Valley warehouse studio set.

Clearly an 'evergreen' talent, part of what makes Dick Van Dyke so likable is the honest and dignified quality that permeates his style. Long before it was fashionable to mention, Dick Van Dyke went public about his participation in alcohol recovery programs. He inspired others by speaking frankly about his own struggle.

As the years go on, the list of Dick van Dyke's credits will surely get longer. In mentioning just a few of his other projects, fans recall his portrayal of the district attorney in Warren Beatty's vibrantly colorful film Dick Tracy, the television movie The Morning After and appearances in episodes of Golden Girls, Matlock and with the master of suspense on Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Visualize the image of Dick Van Dyke laughing himself silly as he kicks back to watch some of his all time favorites: any of Laurel and Hardy's films, but particularly one titled Way Out West, Monty Python's Life of Brian and The Holy Grail and a 90's hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies. It can't help but to make you smile.

Bio courtesy PAX for "Diagnosis Murder" (11-Jan-2003)


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