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Dick Van Dyke Explains Why He Turned Down 'Dancing With the Stars'

by PopEater Staff, posted May 7th 2011 2:00PM
Dick Van Dyke
Although screen legend Dick Van Dyke is -- believe it or not -- 85 years old, he shows no signs of slowing down and has just released a memoir, 'My Lucky Life In And Out Of Show Business.' It's filled with tales about his lustrous career, although the star of his own iconic TV show and films like 'Mary Poppins' tells AOL TV sister site PopEater in a new interview, "I hesitate to call it a career. I had no goals in mind. I just went with whatever happened." Too modest, Dick, and in his lovely must-read book, the rubber-faced funnyman takes pride in the fact he "stood for something" and "upheld values" with his work.

In a lively chat, the proud great-grandfather of four spoke about his winning fight with the bottle, why he turned down 'Dancing With the Stars,' his distaste for reality TV (on 'Apprentice': "I've never been so bored in my life!"), and the greatness of 'Mary Poppins,' his bad cockney accent notwithstanding.

You come across in your book like your public persona. Is that fair to say?
Yeah that's pretty much it. I've always resisted doing a book because my life sounded kind of pedestrian. Actually after I'd got it written I retitled it because almost anything that happened to me happened by chance.

Well I think your talent had a little something to do with it.
Well you have to be able to deliver, that's true.

You never sold out in your career.
I hesitate to call it a career. I had no goals in mind. I just went with whatever happened.

You were working during the cultural revolution of the 60's and 70's. You must have turned down a lot of material that you didn't agree with.
That's true. By the '70s they weren't doing much of my kind of stuff anymore.

Did it make you bitter?
Oh no. I would have liked to have been around during the '30s and '40s, that would have been wonderful but I'm not going to complain.

I can't believe 'Diagnosis Murder' was on the air for ten years.
It was the longest I've ever held a job. Thank God for Hallmark because they insist on family entertainment, so it was a perfect niche for me.

You must hate Reality TV.
Yes I do hate it I must say. I know it's inexpensive to do but I don't think it's entertainment. We watched Donald Trump's 'Apprentice,' whatever it is, I've never been so bored in my life! That's not entertainment. Those shows encourage bad behavior.

Have you been asked to do anything recently?
I get a lot of scripts but as you say they are not exactly my cup of tea. They did ask me to do 'Dancing With The Stars,' I said I can do one show but on that show you have to come up with a new number every week and I told them that I think I'm a little past that stage.

Maybe you could be a special guest star.
That would work. I'd get Betty White to dance with me (laughs). I'm the not the oldest person out there. Thank God for Betty.

You're in a singing quartet.
Four guys in their 30s and me. They found me in a Starbucks one morning. We got together ten years ago, we do a lot of benefits, fundraisers, children's hospitals. It's the most fun I've ever had.

What was your favorite movie?
Oh 'Mary Poppins' of course, by far and away is my favorite.

I love you in that movie, but you know your accent isn't the best.
I not only wince every time I hear it but every Brit that I run into rakes me over the coals for it. I have taken such a kidding all these years -- but I deserve it, I must admit.

Did you realize the movie was special when you were making it?
Oh yes, everybody did. The music alone. We knew we had something really nice going. Everybody was so enthusiastic about it although little did I know 40 years later it would still be around.

You say you had a little crush on Mary Tyler Moore but nothing happened right?
Oh no not at all!

Was 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' your favorite working experience?
I think everyone connected with that show says it was the best five years because it was like going to a party everyday. It was so much fun.

Read the rest of Dick Van Dyke's interview, plus more Q&As From Nicki Gostin at PopEater.

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Helen Raymond

I had signed up to follow Dick on Twitter. We have much in common incl. dancing, singing, & comedy skits. Now watching all his videos as I had enjoyed him so much with Mary Tyler Moore, etc. Recently, I was greatly impressed with his interview by Piers Morgan (who is following me "danceastep"). Yes, Dick, I also entertain my local market Fred Meyer with jokes and singing to the "potatoes". I make their "eyes" water.

May 25 2011 at 11:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dick Van Dyke is a national treasure, and I can't wait to read his memoir!

May 07 2011 at 10:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sign of the apocalypse.

Great interview with a talented, class act like Dick Van Dyke.

Then we scroll down to a picture of a slug like Clooney.

May 07 2011 at 7:06 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Love love love Dick Van Dyke. I've had the pleasure of running into him on multiple occasions and he is the most genuine man, full of humor and always has a pep in his step. National treasure. :)

May 07 2011 at 5:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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