My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir by Dick Van Dyke (Epub)


Ebook Info

  • Published: 2012
  • Number of pages: 320 pages
  • Format: Epub
  • File Size: 7.02 MB
  • Authors: Dick Van Dyke


Dick Van Dyke, indisputably one of the greats of the golden age of television, is admired and beloved by audiences the world over for his beaming smile, his physical dexterity, his impeccable comic timing, his ridiculous stunts, and his unforgettable screen roles.

His trailblazing television program, The Dick Van Dyke Show (produced by Carl Reiner, who has written the foreword to this memoir), was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1960s and introduced another major television star, Mary Tyler Moore. But Dick Van Dyke was also an enormously engaging movie star whose films, including Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, have been discovered by a new generation of fans and are as beloved today as they were when they first appeared.

User’s Reviews

Review “In my opinion, ‘Luck’ has little to do with Dick Van Dyke’s life. It is, rather, his innate kindness and talent that have had an extraordinary effect in shaping the man. And what a fascinating self-portrait he’s given us in this book.”—Mary Tyler Moore “From the time I worked with Dick on the movie Bye Bye Birdie, I have admired his many talents, not the least of which is the joy and enthusiasm he shares with audiences. I’m a big fan of his . . . and his book.”—Ann-Margret “Van Dyke tells a wonderful story about himself and his times. And—in an often surprsingly relevant manner—our times. We’ve always liked the performer—it’s hard not to like Dick Van Dyke—but this will will make you admire him.”—Playbill

Reviews from Amazon users, collected at the time the book is getting published on UniedVRG. It can be related to shiping or paper quality instead of the book content:

⭐ I’ve never written a fan letter to anyone. Have always thought it was odd how some people got hooked on a celebrity. So, I guess this is a form of fan letter…Dick Van Dyke entered my life through The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1961 (I was 6 years old), cemented his stardom in my mind when he played Bert in Mary Poppins (Who cannot sing those wonderful songs and see Dick and Julie Andrews and Ed Wynn in their minds dancing to them even now, 56 years later?) and was/is a legend when he started in Diagnosis Murder for 10 years! By the way, I watched both NYPD Blue and D.M.!!!This memoir takes you through Dick’s career and home life in relatable vignette format that touch your heart because he puts his personal story and growth and development right along side all the stories and personalities he worked with! And Dick does not shy away from sharing his mistakes, his struggle with alcoholism as well as his personal fears. He shares his humanity humbly and with dignity.In the past pages of his memoir, he links his once wanting to be a minister with his career choices of wanting to make people happy through comedy, his is a ministry of comedy, truly!

⭐ As memoirs go, Dick covers it all from birth.Based on the conversational tone, I’m assuming he dictated much, if not all, of the book. There are places where, as an editor, I would have trimmed and snipped a bit…and other places I would have had him go further in-depth. For instance, while I came away feeling he was proud of the work he did with Mary Tyler Moore on 39 episodes a year for five or six years, and in spite of the fact they shared an on-screen chemistry unlike any TV show before or since, he seemed more passionate about his relationships with Carl Reiner, Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie. Even Jerry Paris got more props than Mary.I’m not a Hollywood gossip hound. Perhaps there is/was some animosity between them unknown to me…perhaps he was being diplomatic. I came away feeling he had tossed her from his Christmas card list many years ago. And unfortunately, this book reveals little.Dick comes off as a really nice guy who is pretty darn honest about his human faults and weaknesses. He is fairly honest about his alcoholism, but like most addicts, I felt he probably took some liberties with the truth. (This is a memoir, not a confessional.) And when I say he is a nice guy, he seems deeply devoted to family and friends…and appears to go out of his way not to say a bad thing about anybody in a town famous for eating its young. You’d think after almost 70 years in show biz, he’d want to get in one last shot at somebody!Now into his 90s, sounding hale and hearty, I began to wonder if Dick Van Dyke will live forever. After watching a few episodes of his classic show on Hulu last weekend, I’m convinced he will.Dick…if you’re reading this…thank you for helping the world put on a happy face. You are a treasure!

⭐ Dick Van Dyke writes just as he speaks. You hear his voice inside your head as you travel through the wonderful experiences which encompass his life. It was coincidental that while reading this biography I went to see the new movey last night, Mary Poppins Returns. My favorite part? Dick reprising his role as the elderly banker, only this time he was Dawes Jr. Watching him jump up on the desk to dance made me wonder if the arthritis he commented on in his biography had suddenly disappeared with Mary’s magic. What a treat to get to go “backstage” as it were of so many great productions of his which I’ve enjoyed over the years and to be able to know the other actors better through his eyes. Best of all, while not a perfect life, this read was uplifting. Certainly a far cry from other biografies which do little more than present themselves as a forum for putting down others or casting assertions in an effort to justify their own failings. As a true gentleman, Dick delights in sharing the endearing qualities of others and laying bare his own shortcomings. All in all, this book was very Dick Van Dyke, and I enjoyed spending time with him as I would any old friend who walked back into my life after years of absence to reminisce and catch me up. Thanks, Dick, for inviting us into your home for a chat. It’s been one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve had in quite a while.

⭐ This book is obviously for fans. There’s not much dirt. Dick Van Dyke is optimistic, kind, and modest throughout. He humbly credits his long successful career to luck though he’s clearly extremely talented. He talks openly of his alcohol issues and the difficult decision to leave his long marriage for another woman. Yet, he always comes across as honest, kind, generous, and happy. He decided early on to keep his career kid friendly. He started out in comedy; then learned to sing and dance and do dramatic roles. I loved his first show and had a major crush on him. I thought he was the perfect man: amiable, funny, honest, and sincere. He says he was playing himself. He worked with some wonderful and talented people and so did they.

⭐ There are no great revelations in this autobiography; no sordid scandals. If you’re a fan, you may not learn much but the stories he tells are fun and his voice resonates throughout. It reads like you’d expect it to, coming from one of America’s “clean”, old school comedic actors. Not preachy or heavy on the “life lessons” that many autobiographies fall into, just a lot of interesting stories about his career and the show biz folks he met along the way. He does seem to hold back a little on his family life, but it seems to be out of respect and not secrecy. I enjoyed this and recommend it for fans of Mr. Van Dyke.

⭐ Don’t get me wrong…I grew up when “The Dick Van Dyke” was the funniest show on television. I really, really wanted to like this book but found myself skimming major chunks of the simply because it read more like diary entries than the story of his “life.” I think were I not such a huge fan of his I would have given it two stars. Very few people can write believable criticism of themselves and Van Dyke is no exception. His rationalization of his affair with Lee Marvin’s “ex” was a bit much and anyone who remembers her lawsuit remembers her coming across as money-grubbing rather than the victim she attempted to portray herself as. She came across as a little too perfect and he came across as a bit too much of an Everyman humanitarian, interested only in the betterment of mankind. Even his concerns about the civil rights movement made him sound pompous rather than caring. All-in-all, a huge disappointment.

⭐ I have enjoyed Dick Van Dyke’s work since I was a child, especially “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” I have the whole series on DVD and recently finished re-watching the entire series on Amazon Prime. Shortly afterward, I saw this Kindle book’s price had dropped, so I took advantage of it. I found the book very interesting and read it quickly. Being a Midwesterner myself, I always remembered that Dick hailed from Danville, Illinois, but there was much I never knew about his personal life or his professional life prior to the series that launched his stardom. I loved reading about his experiences on the show and his thoughts about his co-stars. However, as some other reviewers have noted, some things were lacking regarding his personal life. For example, I would have liked to know more about his parents. His descriptions, especially of his mother, are quite sketchy. I also would have liked to know more about his first wife. He drops tidbits about her here and there, but I never felt like I got a full picture of her. He is more descriptive of his second — well, not wife, because she would never get around to actually marrying him — live-in, but I suppose it’s natural that he would focus more on the woman he was with at the time.I found this memoir insightful, but often the insights I gleaned were unintentional ones because Dick seems to lack the inclination toward introspection. For example, Dick says that he and Margie (his wife) never drank alcohol before coming to Hollywood. But gradually, they both started drinking socially and drank to the point that both became alcoholics requiring treatment. However, Dick never bothers to analyze why he began drinking in the first place — caving to social pressure? — and why the drinking became a crutch for him. Was it the pressures of his career? Difficulties at home? Feelings of insecurity? We don’t know because Dick either isn’t curious himself or doesn’t wish to reveal it. He talks about his smoking addiction and describes several fruitless attempts to quit. He basically says that he *couldn’t* quit. However, when an X-ray revealed a potential health problem, he quit immediately and never smoked again. What this revealed is that he had the capacity to quit all along, but he didn’t have sufficient motivation to quit until the X-ray. Once he wanted to quit more than he wanted to smoke, he succeeded. But I don’t think he quite grasped that himself.Dick says he is really a lot like Rob Petrie — or rather, the reverse. The writers used Dick’s personality to develop the character of Rob. Dick said that, like Rob, he is very non-confrontational and is a people pleaser. He said that Rose Marie dubbed him the “six-foot tower of Jello.” I find it interesting, therefore, that he describes the two women in his life, Margie and Michelle, as strong women. It has been my observation that non-aggressive and compliant men often gravitate to strong (sometimes domineering) women. Ironically, it would appear that Margie’s strong personality worked against her in the end. She did not like the Hollywood culture, making no bones about it, and therefore did not take as active an interest in Dick’s career as he would have liked. He became involved with another strong women who relished Hollywood and everything about it. So Dick was drawn away to someone who took a more active interest in his career and wanted to participate in that aspect of his life. It would seem that Dick’s amenable personality led him to gradually be drawn into an adulterous relationship until he reached the point where he felt there was no turning back and wanted to divorce Margie. Though Dick’s memoir never really allowed me to make an emotional connection to Margie, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for this woman who had been married to Dick since he was a nobody and bore him several children, only to be discarded when another woman came onto the scene who, perhaps, took advantage of a famous man going through a mid-life crisis. Although Dick thought Michelle was wonderful, I just don’t come away with the same impression. YMMV.Throughout the book, Dick stresses his desire to live up to his mother’s admonition to be a good and decent person. I think in most ways he did achieve that. But he never really acknowledged how his alcoholism and marital infidelity played into that. Also, Dick talks about being a church goer for much of his life, and not only that but also a Sunday school teacher and an elder in the Presbyterian church. However, it’s clear that Dick never had a true understanding of what Christianity actually is. The gospel seems to have eluded him. Instead of realizing that the Christian faith is centered on repenting of sin and accepting the sacrifice Christ made on the cross, Dick still focuses on being a good person as his means of salvation — that is, being good enough for God rather than realizing nobody is good enough, which is why we need God’s forgiveness and grace. This explains why he fell away from the church. When an issue came up within his church that revealed a very un-Christian attitude by those in authority, he decided the church was the problem instead of those particular people. It didn’t seem to occur to him to look for another church that had a more Christ-like attitude toward all people. Instead, he became disillusioned and dropped out. Very sad.Dick Van Dyke is an immensely talented actor who continues to give me and countless others great enjoyment through his work. At his core, he is a man with solid Midwestern values who, in some ways, was led astray by the Hollywood culture. He displays a lack of self-awareness in some areas of his life, but he comes across as genuine and likeable, just as he does on screen. His memoir is not the best of its genre, but it is generally a fun and interesting read, and I’m sure most fans will find it worthwhile.

⭐ I wasn’t a big fan of Dick Van Dyke and yet, I found his story to be interesting and told with a smile. This man is probably a better man than actor and I would say he has given meaning to his life in a way others could never do. I would be very happy to make his acquaintance after reading his story. I think he would be most entertaining and leave me smiling. Just as his book did!

⭐ Dick Van Dyke has been one of my favorite actors for many years. This is his second autobiography, so it is plain he is getting very old. Dick graduated Danville, Illinois High School many years ago and until recently he visited ever so often to the delight of his fellow high school students. Danville, for many years, was famous for having railroads slicing up the city from all directions. For this reason many well known celebrities were born there or grew up there before traveling on. I worked for 18 years in the nearby city of Champaign, Illinois and had many chances to visit Danville.

⭐ Dick Van Dyke has always been one of my favorite actors and reading this book, I could almost hear his voice. There were things I knew about him and things I didn’t which made it all the more interesting. When I was younger I would watch the Dick Van Dyke show and never knew that was his first TV show, I always thought he was already well established. I never gave much thought to his personal life and this book gave some insight to the man off the screen. He keeps true to his personality and keeps the book “clean” especially when he discusses his affair, he keeps it g-rated and talks about his alcoholism but does it in a professional manner rather than glorifying it showing that everyone has their struggles.I enjoyed the book and read it in a couple of days. If you enjoy biographies pick this one up.


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