In an exclusive interview with Closer Weekly, Dick Van Dyke exclusively shares secrets from the set of his iconic show.
The image of Dick dancing with his TV wife, Mary Tyler Moore, from 1961 to 1966 on The Dick Van Dyke Show has stood the test of time. “It was just serendipity,” Dick gushes to Closer of his special connection with his leading lady. “We got to where we could read other’s minds. It was like doing improv.”
Rob and Laura Petrie are one of the most beloved couples in TV history. “Never in the history of the series did anybody doubt they were a perfectly matched couple,” Carl Reiner, who created the show and played Rob’s Sid Caesar-esque boss, Alan Brady, recalls to Closer. “Years later, we found out they both really cared for each other, and if they weren’t married, they would’ve been a couple,” Carl confesses.
Dick on The Dick Van Dyke Show in August 1964. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Still, network censors wouldn’t allow them to sleep in the same bed. “Bob Newhart got to sleep with Suzanne Pleshette, but we always had to have twin beds!” Dick laments.
Initially, the wardrobe also caused some trouble for the actors. “There was a lot of pushback about Mary wearing formfitting capri pants,” Vince Waldron, author of The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book tells Closer.
A compromise was quickly reached. “Every time she wore pants, she wore a dress or gown in the next scene,” says Waldron. “That lasted about two shows, and after they realized there was no hue and cry, it went away.”
Dick and Mary on The Dick Van Dyke Show in July 1961. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
In fact, aside from Dick, whose lanky frame only fit into tailor-made suits, the stars often wore their own clothes on the show, which was shot on a skimpy $50,000-an-episode budget.
Still, the cast always managed to have fun on set. “They were having so much fun that Sheldon Leonard came down to the set and read them the riot act,” Waldron says. “He called them on the carpet like a high school principal.”
After five seasons and 158 episodes, Carl decided to pull the plug on the show in 1966. However, Dick tells Closer, “I’d still be doing the show if they let me. It was the most fun I’ve ever had.”
For more stories behind the scenes of The Dick Van Dyke Show, including Dick’s battle with alcohol addiction, pickup the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!