Dick Van Dyke: My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business

First off I must admit that I am a huge Dick Van Dyke fan. So I went into this memoir with an open mind (albeit somewhat clouded by fandom) and a desire to get to know the man a bit better.

I got what I hoped for! I hope you enjoy my…

B O O K    R E V I E W

 

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Type: Autobiography

Date: 2011

Pages: 290

ISBN: 978-0-307-59223-1

The forward is written by Carl Reiner who helped to put Van Dyke on the map back in the early 60’s with a certain little sitcom we all remember and love, The Dick Van Dyke Show. After reading this memoir, it’s obvious these two men have a great deal of respect for one another!

With Mary Tyler Moore in 1963

That brings me to the first thing I liked about this book. Van Dyke is generous with his praise of, and the giving of credit to, the many talented people who worked with him over the years. No ego here!

The book gives a nice overview of his childhood and the challenges of his early life trying to break into show business. I didn’t realize how many challenges he faced! But after his signature show was a success, things began to roll along nicely.

With Julie Andrews in 1964

I was happy to hear that he enjoyed working with Andrews on Mary Poppins as I am also a huge Disney fan!

With Walt Disney

The book contains one of my favorite Van Dyke/Disney stories involving how Van Dyke got the role of the old banker in Mary Poppins. Look for other insider tidbits about that movie also.

One disappointment as a fan of Van Dyke’s work was learning how he felt about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

With Sally Ann Howes in 1968

I won’t get into too many details about his issues with the movie. Suffice to say he had some valid points… but I still love his work on the piece!

He touches on many of the projects he did between Chitty and his Diagnosis Murder television triumph as well as his battle with alcoholism. On this point, I’d like to quote directly from the book to show what Van Dyke’s goal was in writing this memoir:

A word of warning about this book: If you are looking for dirt, stop reading now. I have had some tough times and battled a few demons, but there is nothing salacious here…. I have tried to write an honest story, with lightness, insight, hope, and some laughs.”

In my opinion, he has succeeded on all counts!

In the end, he leaves you believing he is as happy as he looks in the picture above.

COOL FACTOR: 5/5

Anyone with as extensive a career as Van Dyke could easily pen a larger volume and cover much more ground, but Van Dyke only hits the key moments with insight and asides designed to give the reader a nice look into his life without wearing him out with needless details.

Even if you aren’t a big Van Dyke fan, there is enough Hollywood name-dropping to keep you interested, but the book is interesting enough without it.

And for the rabid Dick Van Dyke fan I say, “Buy it! Read it! Love it!” I did.

#FlashbackFriday: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Hello everyone, and welcome to a new post series I’m calling #FlashbackFriday!  Obviously, though, #FlashbackFriday is only new to me, as thousands of people join the ranks each Friday and share something on Friday from the past.  Well, today being Friday, I’m writing about a movie we watched last night that I had never seen before…Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Of course, I’ve known a lot of the music for this movie for years.  The music was written and performed by the legendary Sherman Brothers, so any Disney fan knows the music.  However, I had never seen the movie, although I certainly knew about it.  For whatever reason I just never got around to seeing it until last night.  I’ve got to tell you, though, I absolutely loved it!  It was so incredibly cool, sappy, funny, musical, and even sad at times.  In watching it, I caught a lot of similarities between this movie and one of my all time favorites — Mary Poppins.

When we were watching Dick Van Dyke’s character, Caractacus, dancing at the carnival with the other men, Sophie remarked to me how it reminded her of the part of Mary Poppins where the chimney sweeps were dancing to Step in Time.  I also saw distinct reminders between Truly’s character and Mary Poppins, not from a standpoint of what they did, but in the role that they both played with the children.

I’m glad that I watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and can check off one more non-Disney Disney movie off my list.  This one is a special movie, and if you haven’t seen it, I urge you to look it up.  In closing, I’m going to share with you one of my favorite songs from the movie — Hushabye Mountain:

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, as I said, has it all, and it wraps it all up in a really creative way.  This is one movie that should be on every Disney fan’s list, if it isn’t already.