Dick Van Dyke’s new memoir: a review

Dick Van Dyke came out with his memoir My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business not long ago. It’s a quick read because the narrative is engaging and the content of Dick’s life is, well, interesting. I have long been a fan of this man whom Craig Ferguson calls a “National Treasure.”  I remember as a child watching Van Dyke dance his legs off in “Step in Time” in Mary Poppins and I wanted so badly to be a dancing chimney sweep just like him.  And when my middle school performed Bye Bye Birdie, we took time to watch the movie version, which starred an enthusiastic Van Dyke and his optimistic song, “Put on a Happy Face.”

It was fun to read all about his simple beginnings, his time in the military (shortly after WWII), and his rise to fame as a comedian, entertainer, singer, dancer, actor, and overall showman.

He is very humble throughout the book, giving credit to many people with whom he worked – especially Carl Reiner, who was the brains and playwright behind the famous Dick Van Dyke Show.

He admits that his book is not “juicy” in the sense of uncovering some deep dark secret about his life or the lives of others.  He speaks frankly about his struggle with alcoholism (which was already public knowledge before the book came out) and his unfortunate divorce with his wife of 35 years (and the mother of his children).

He also talks openly about his Christian faith and his regard for good theology, including the works of (one of my favorites also) Deitrich Bonhoeffer.  He also said that he generally insisted in being cast in family friendly movies and productions (which he more or less stuck to his whole career) because he wanted to do movies and shows that his own kids could watch.  I admire that example and standard.

Thank you, Dick Van Dyke, for giving us great entertainment.

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.