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Dick Van Dyke

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Richard Wayne “Dick” Van Dyke (born December 13, 1925) was born in West Plains, Missouri and grew up in Danville, Illinois, USA, the son of Hazel Vorice (née McCord) and Loren Wayne “Cookie” Van Dyke, a traveling salesman for the Sunshine Biscuit Company with a talent for comedy. He attended elementary school in Danville starting in 1931. In 1938, the Van Dykes, of Dutch origin, moved to Crawfordsville, Indiana for two years, and returned to Danville in 1940 where he attended high school. As a child, he was inspired to go into show business by watching Laurel & Hardy films at the movie theater.

After appearing in many high school plays and community theater productions, Van Dyke enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. There he participated in stage shows and worked as a radio DJ.

Van Dyke began his film career by reprising his stage role in the film version of Bye Bye Birdie in 1963. Although Van Dyke was unhappy with the adaptation because the focus was shifted to Ann-Margret’s character, the film was a major success. He followed that up with Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins in 1964, in which he played Bert, a Cockney chimney sweep, and also, in heavy disguise, the bank’s elderly chairman, credited in that role as “Nackvid Keyd” (an anagram for “Dick Van Dyke”). Van Dyke’s attempt at a cockney accent was cited as one of the worst film accents in a BBC poll.[3] But the film was very popular and innovative and also showed his versatility as a singer and dancer. One of his showcase songs, “Chim Chim Cher-ee”, won the Oscar for the Sherman Brothers, the film’s songwriting team.

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