About The Dick Van Dyke Show, the comedy TV series from the ’60s – plus see the opening credits

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Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke

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Ranked #13 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, The Dick Van Dyke Show premiered on October 3, 1961, and ran for 5 seasons through 1966, racking up 15 Emmy awards along the way.

Created by the legendary Carl Reiner, the show focused on the life of television comedy writer Rob Petrie, portrayed by Van Dyke. The show also starred Mary Tyler Moore as Petrie’s wife Laura.

In addition to being an award-winning production, the show was a hit with audiences as well, and continues to be a beloved part of American pop culture to this day. – AJW

Dick Van Dyke (Rob Petrie), Mary Tyler Moore (Laura Petrie), Morey Amsterdam (Buddy Sorrell), Rose Marie (Sally Rogers) and Richard Deacon (Mel Cooley)
Dick Van Dyke (Rob Petrie), Mary Tyler Moore (Laura Petrie), Morey Amsterdam (Buddy Sorrell), Rose Marie (Sally Rogers) and Richard Deacon (Mel Cooley)

Dick Van Dyke Show has rare quality for TV — it’s funny

“The Dick Van Dyke Show,” the new-this-season situation comedy which already has become the favorite TV comedy show of a large number of performers, is unusual in a number of ways.

For one, it’s funny — a quality rare in TV situation comedy these days.

For another, the cast, writer and producer are really and truly one big happy family. That’s even more rare. Too often there is considerable intramural jealousy, anger and backbiting.

But “The Dick Van Dyke Show” folks, starting with the star, and ranging through creator Carl Reiner to featured players Morey Amsterdam, Rosemarie and Mary Tyler Moore, admire each other tremendously.

1961 Dick Van Dyke Mary Tyler Moore TV Guide

In fact, very early in the season, they all decided that when they finished the year’s TV scripts, they’d all do a musical comedy in summer theatres, just for the fun of it.

“It was a wonderful idea,” explained Van Dyke during a recent trip to New York. “After all, everybody in the cast can sing, dance, do monologues. We’d have had a ball.”

His long, pleasant face looked sad. 

“But now it’s off,” he continued. “Because I’ve signed for a movie part — my first.”

Actually, Van Dyke’s first movie part is a radical departure for the casting brains of Hollywood: He’ll star in the film version of the Broadway hit, “Bye, Bye, Birdie,” playing the very part that changed him from a lesser broadcasting and nightclub comedian into a star.

MORE: Live action plus animation are magic in Disney’s classic movie, ‘Mary Poppins’

Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke

Actually, a lot of the show’s camaraderie is generated by the gentle-mannered Van Dyke, tall as a basketball star and a talented all-around performer. He exudes goodwill and friendliness.

MORE: Dick Van Dyke: Interviews, insights & images from the long career of a multi-talented star

At the moment he confesses to being a little worried about a recent switch that took “The Dick Van Dyke Show” out of CBS’ Tuesday night lineup and moved it into a later spot on Wednesday.

“I sure hope it will work out,” he sighed. “We were happy about the move when it was decided a couple of months ago, because the show was on at a terrible time in some places — 7 pm in the Midwest, and 6 o’clock in the South.

“We figured the later time would help — even if we are opposite the second half of Perry Como — and wow, that’s when his sketches and all the best stuff come up — and ‘Hawaiian Eye.’

“Then, between the time we decided on the move and we made it, our ratings started to go up.”

Van Dyke says that the series — about a trio of TV comedy writers and the home life of one of them, played by Van Dyke, has gone along pretty much as planned in advance.

Dick Van Dyke show

Slim, lanky Van Dyke, now in his early 30s, grew up in Danville, Illinois, and got into broadcasting as an announcer on an Air Force radio show during his military service.

Nightclub work followed, and he finally broke into television with a local show in Atlanta. Georgia. Later, he moved to New York, replacing Jack Paar on a CBS morning show, occasionally filling in for Garry Moore.

But “Bye, Bye, Birdie” really opened the important doors of show business to him.

The Dick Van Dyke Show intro theme & episode

Season 2, Episode 1 – 1962

Dick Van Dyke & Mary Tyler Moore: Driving lessons (1962)

Two for the road — or, Then there was this crash: A photo story of Rob Petrie teaching his wife Laura how to drive

Dick Van Dyke show - Mary Tyler Moore in pretend car 1962 (1)

Dick Van Dyke show - Mary Tyler Moore in pretend car 1962 (2)

MORE: The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Meet the real Mary, plus get the TV theme song & lyrics (1970-1977)

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