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Dick Van Dyke Show

The Dick Van Dyke Show Format: Sitcom

Created by: Carl Reiner (father of Rob Reiner--you know Meathead from All in the Family)

Starring: Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Mathews, Richard Deacon, Jerry Paris, Ann Morgan Guilbert

Country of origin: United States

No. of seasons: 5

No. of episodes: 158 + 1 reunion special


Running time: approx. 25 minutes


Original channel: CBS

Original run: October 3, 1961 June 1, 1966

The Dick Van Dyke Show

The Dick Van Dyke Show is an American television situation comedy which initially aired on CBS from October 3, 1961 to June 1, 1966. The show was created by Carl Reiner and starred Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. Reiner had in fact starred in the original, unsuccessful pilot episode, Head of the Family (this was seen on the Nick at Nite service of the Nickelodeon cable channel, shortly after the series itself was added to its schedule in the 1990s). After its rejection, Sheldon Leonard took an interest and helped Reiner revive the project, convincing him to recast, and to switch to the three-camera/studio audience production format.

Totalling 158 episodes and five seasons, the show was also produced by Reiner, who wrote many episodes and played the part of Alan Brady. Reiner based the main character on himself and the Brady character on his former boss Sid Caesar. Many of the show's plots were inspired by Reiner's experiences as a writer for Your Show of Shows (which starred Caesar). The Dick Van Dyke Show was the recipient of 15 Emmy Awards.

The Dick Van Dyke Show

Main characters

Robert "Rob" Petrie (Dick Van Dyke), the head comedy writer for a fictional New York TV variety series called The Alan Brady Show. The role of Rob Petrie was almost given to Johnny Carson, but Sheldon Leonard, the show's executive producer, suggested Van Dyke.

Laura Meeker/Meehan Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore), Rob's wife. A stay-at-home mom and former dancer in the U.S.O. (where she met Rob). The role of Laura proved to be the most difficult to cast. About 60 actresses auditioned for the part before Moore was signed, and she almost didn't go to the audition.

Maurice "Buddy" Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam), an energetic (and at times facetious) "human joke machine" (as was Amsterdam himself), one of the comedy writers; he's constantly making fun of Mel Cooley (the show's producer) for being bald (and dull). His character is loosely based on Mel Brooks who also wrote for Your Show of Shows. He makes frequent jokes about his marriage to his wife "Pickles". On several occasions it is hinted that he is a non-practicing Jew. He owns a large German Shepherd and plays the cello. Amsterdam was recommended by Rose Marie as soon as she had signed on.

Sally Rogers (Rose Marie), another of the comedy writers (and the comedy trio's designated typist), who is always on the lookout for a husband. She never drinks and quotes frequently from her aunt Agnes (though she always gets the quotes wrong). She has an on again off again relationship with her boyfriend Herman Glimscher who seems to be too much of a mommy's boy to get married. She frequently scares men off with her sense of humor.

Click here to see a great Dick Van Dyke Show video clip.

The Dick Van Dyke Show

Supporting characters

Richard "Ritchie" Rosebud Petrie (Larry Mathews), Rob and Laura's son.

Melvin "Mel" Cooley (Richard Deacon), the balding producer of the "Alan Brady Show" (and Brady's brother-in-law), who is constantly fighting with Buddy, who often calls him "Mr. Potato Head".

Jerry (Jerry Paris) and Mildred "Millie" Krumbermacher Helper (Ann Morgan Guilbert), the Petries' next-door neighbors.

Other less frequently seen characters include:

Alan Brady (Carl Reiner), the egocentric, toupee-wearing star of the "Alan Brady Show".

Stacey Petrie (Jerry Van Dyke), Rob's brother, banjo player, and one-time sleepwalker, played by Dick Van Dyke's real-life brother.

Fiona "Pickles" Sorrell (Barbara Perry/Joan Shawlee), Buddy's slightly nutty wife.

Herman Glimscher (Bill Idelson), Sally's occasional and "nerdy" boyfriend. In the 2004 Reunion Special, Sally and Herman had been married for years. (In an early episode Sally referred to him as Woodrow)

Sam and Clara Petrie (Tom Tully/J. Pat O'Malley and Isabel Randolph), Rob's parents.

Mr. and Mrs. Alan Meehan (Carl Benton Reid and Geraldine Wall), Laura's parents.

Freddie Helper (Peter Oliphant), Millie and Jerry Helper's son.

The Dick Van Dyke Show


Storylines deal with Rob and his two coworkers, Buddy and Sally, who write material for the TV show. Mel Cooley, a balding straight man (and recipient of numerous insulting one-liners from Buddy), is the show's producer and the brother-in-law of Alan Brady, the show's seldom-seen star. As Rob, Buddy, and Sally write for a comedy show, the premise provides a built-in forum for them to "be funny." Other stories focus on the home life of Rob and Laura, who live at 248 Bonnie Meadow Road in suburban New Rochelle, New York. Frequently seen is their young son, Ritchie, as well as their neighbors, Jerry and Millie Helper.

The Dick Van Dyke Show


The show was an excellent vehicle for Van Dyke's physical comedy and sight gags. The classic example is the scene in the opening titles, in which Van Dyke enters through the front door and trips over the ottoman. (This opening was added beginning in the second season of the series. The first season's opening credits were a composite of promotion stills and screen grabs from the pilot episode.) Producers filmed three versions: one in which Van Dyke trips over the ottoman, one in which he steps around it, and a rarely seen third variation in which Van Dyke avoids the ottoman and then trips on the carpet. Viewers were kept wondering which version would be used on any particular episode, as the show's editors were instructed to use them randomly.

The Dick Van Dyke Show

The series was considered a trailblazer for its comparatively realistic portrayal of relationships although the Petries slept in separate beds and caused some mild controversy because of Mary Tyler Moore's decision to wear capri slacks in an era when most sitcom wives wore dresses and skirts, even though Lucille Ball had previously worn capri slacks on I Love Lucy.

The show included humorous but intelligent portrayals of other subjects not previously seen on sitcoms, including religion, race, death, infidelity, and psychiatry. One episode dealt with Ritchie Petrie's use of profanity; another involved his parents' explaining to him the "facts of life," the term used on shows at the time for sex.

The storylines gave viewers an "inside look" at how a TV show was run and written. This was rare at a time when situation comedy was limited to occupations other than show business. It also gave the cast an opportunity to do "variety" episodes that included stand-up comedy, music, and other non-situation segments.


Carl Reiner originally planned to produce and star in the series, which was going to be titled Head of the Family. A pilot episode was made in July of 1960, but it was unsuccessful. Executive producer Sheldon Leonard liked Reiner's concept but felt that Reiner was miscast. Leonard cast Dick van Dyke as Rob Petrie, and Reiner was recast to better effect as Alan Brady (a character called "Alan Sturdy" in Reiner's unsuccessful pilot), the egotistical television star for whom Rob works. In the early episodes, Reiner was only shown with his head turned away from the camera. His voice would also be heard in many commercial announcements when the characters are watching TV or as a radio DJ. Both Leonard and business partner Danny Thomas also appeared on the show guest roles.

Reiner always maintained that he never intended for the series to run more than five seasons, making this one of the first successful American TV series to end on its own accord while still popular rather than through cancellation. It has done extremely well in syndicated reruns, most notably on Nick at Nite from 1991 to 2000, then on its sister cable network TV Land from 2000 to 2007.

The Dick Van Dyke Show is considered to have been an inspiration for many later sitcoms, in particular the long-running Mad About You. Carl Reiner even reprised the role of Alan Brady for an episode.

Van Dyke returned in 1971 in an unrelated vehicle, The New Dick Van Dyke Show, which despite running for three years is rarely shown in syndication.

The Dick Van Dyke Show

Reunion special

On May 11, 2004, CBS aired a reunion special, The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited. Produced by Carl Reiner, who referred to the hour-long special as "The 159th Episode," the show reunited cast members Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Larry Mathews, Ann Morgan Guilbert, Jerry Van Dyke, and Bill Idelson. Reiner reprised his role as Alan Brady. Deceased cast members Morey Amsterdam, Richard Deacon, and Jerry Paris were remembered in flashbacks.

The main plot of the special involves the relatively healthy Alan Brady asking Rob and Sally to write his eulogy so that he knows in advance what will be said about him after he dies. The Petries and Sally, along with Rob's brother Stacey and longtime friend Millie, discuss ideas that are illustrated by way of flashbacks to the old show. The special ends with Van Dyke and Moore, out of character, reminiscing about the series as more flashbacks are shown. Ray Romano hosts the special.

Van Dyke and Moore reprised the Petrie characters as they were in 1979, and also later in life as seniors, in an episode of "The Mary Tyler Moore Variety Hour" on March 25, 1979.

The Dick Van Dyke Show


DVD releases

For reasons that are unclear, six episodes from the second season have lapsed into the public domain, and as a result are widely available at Walmart and 'dollar stores' for $1-$2 per DVD or VHS tape.

Image Entertainment has released all 5 Seasons of The Dick Van Dyke Show on DVD in Region 1. Season sets were released between October 2003 - June 2004. Also, on May 24, 2005, Image Entertainment released a 25-disc boxset of the entire series.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date

Season 1 31 October 21, 2003

Season 2 33 October 21, 2003

Season 3 31 February 24, 2004

Season 4 32 April 27, 2004

Season 5 31 June 29, 2004









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