10 Facts About Dick Van Dyke’s Disney Career
Hello art lovers!
On December 13, the incomparable Dick Van Dyke celebrated his 92nd birthday. One of the most beloved entertainers in Hollywood and television history, Van Dyke also sang and danced his way into the hearts of Disney fans. To honor him on this jolly holiday, here are ten highlights from Dick Van Dyke’s Disney career.
1. What a Way To Go
In his memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business, Van Dyke wrote that he got the role in Mary Poppins as a result of his appearance in 1964’s What A Way to Go. The film also also starred Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, and Bob Cummings. It had a good deal of ad-libbed humor that made the film slightly less than family friendly. After the experience, Van Dyke told his agent that he only wanted to make movies his children could watch. Walt Disney read about the decision and decided that it made him the perfect for Mary Poppins.
2. Bert the Chimney Sweep
Van Dyke’s first Disney role also became his most iconic. He starred as Bert the Chimney Sweep in 1964’s Mary Poppins alongside Julie Andrews. As Bert, he sings the songs: The Pavement Artist, Jolly Holiday, Super‐cali‐fragil‐istic‐expi‐ali‐docious,Chim Chim Cheree, Step in Time, A Man has Dreams (The Life I Lead), and Let’s Go Fly A Kite.
While many have derided his attempts at a cockney accent, Van Dyke says that no one on the film ever mentioned it. He has developed a sense of humor about it over the years saying, “People in the UK love to rib me about my accent, I will never live it down. They ask what part of England I was meant to be from and I say it was a little shire in the north where most of the people were from Ohio.”
Accent aside, Roy E. Disney lavished praise on his performance saying, “Every time I see Mary Poppins, I’m amazed at how Dick’s brilliant performance effortlessly ties this film together. After all, it is Dick who first welcomes us to number 17 Cherry Tree Lane. It is his chalk pavement picture that provides entry into one of the great fantasy sequences of all time. And, it is Dick who bids Mary Poppins goodbye at the end of the movie.”
3. Nackvid Keyd
The role of Mr. Dawes Senior at Fidelity Fiduciary Bank was played by the, up until then, unknown actor Nackvid Keyd. The letters unscramble to form Dick Van Dyke. After being given the role of Bert, Van Dyke set his heart on playing the elderly bank man, even offering to play the role gratis. Disney made Van Dyke audition for the role. During a test, Van Dyke performed a slap-stick style gag of an elderly man attempting to step off a curb. Disney loved the bit, gave Van Dyke the role, and even made sure the gag got incorporated into the film. As Nackvid Keyd, Van Dyke sings in the song Fidelity Fiduciary Bank.
4. Lt. Robin Crusoe USN
Van Dyke starred alongside Nancy Kwan in the 1966 live action film Lt. Robin Crusoe USN, a comedy about a castaway Navy pilot. Walt Disney received his only motion picture story credit for the film, though his name appears in the credits as Retlaw Yensid.
5. Never A Dull Moment
Two years after Crusoe, Van Dyke starred in Disney’s Never a Dull Moment with the legendary Edward G Robinson. The film was a comedy crime caper that featured mistaken identity, art theft, a vicious killer, and a beautiful art teacher played by Dorothy Provine.
6. Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream
In 1981, Van Dyke appeared in an episode of Walt Disney titled One Man’s Dream. The film featured a variety of artists and celebrities (ranging from Walter Cronkite to Andy Warhol) discussing Disney’s impact and legacy. Van Dyke’s segment gave viewers a look at Epcot Center, which would open the following year.
7. The Television Academy Hall of Fame
Dick Van Dyke inducted Walt Disney into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1986, narrating Disney’s life to the audience while a montage of historical photographs of Walt played on screen. Afterward, Van Dyke was joined by a host of Disney characters, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, before presenting the award to Lillian Disney.
8. Dick Tracy
He played a minor role in Touchstone’s 1990 action film Dick Tracy, appearing as the corrupt District Attorney John Fletcher
9. Disney Legend
Thirty four years after appearing in Mary Poppins, Dick Van Dyke joined the illustrious list of Disney Legends as part of the 1998 class.
10. Mary Poppins Returns
In 2016, the world learned that Dick Van Dyke would appear i 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns. He will play Mr. Dawes Jr., the son of the elderly Mr. Dawes Sr. Van Dyke first portrayed as Nackvid Keyd.