Anyone who has ever watched television has to groove on Richard Wayne “Dick” Van Dyke. The guy is 87 years old, looks like a million bucks (ok…maybe $100 grand), is married to a 39 year old, was a news anchor at the ” CBS Morning News” in 1955 and Walter Cronkite was his reporter, is an honorary member of the Barbershop Harmony Society, appeared on an album with Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, lived with Michelle Triola (who famously battled Lee Marvin in the “palimony ” case Marvin v. Marvin) for more than 30 years (not sure that’s a good thing), has had a career that spans 7 decades, and claims in 2010 that he was rescued at sea by a pod of porpoises (apparently they loved Dick’s version of ” Chim Chim Cher-ee ).
Like many great comedians, Dick’s idol was Stan Laurel of the great comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. After Oliver Hardy’s death in 1957 (something that friends say Stan never recovered from), Stan moved into the second floor of the Oceana Apartments in Santa Monica (now the swank boutique Oceana Hotel on Ocean Blvd.) There Stan would entertain a long list of admirers such as Peter Sellers, Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye, Marcel Marceau, and of course Dick Van Dyke. Stan was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 1961 and was offered a cameo role in it’s a Mad , Mad , Mad , Mad World (1963), but couldn’t bear to be on any stage without his partner Oliver (Babe) Hardy.
In 1965 Stan suffered a major heart attack and while minutes from death he told his nurse he would not mind skiing right at this moment. Somewhat taken back, the nurse replied that she wasn’t aware that he was a skier. “I’m not, but I’d rather be doing that than this!” A minute later he died sitting in his armchair.
At his funeral, comedian Buster Keaton said ” Chaplin wasn’t the funniest, I wasn’t the funniest, this man here was the funniest .” Dick Van Dyke gave the eulogy and was rewarded with Stan’s bowler hat by Stan’s wife. Dick said that Stan told him “if anyone at my funeral has a long face, I’ll never speak to him again.” Stan Laurel was 74 years old.
Comedy lightens our load and allows us not to take ourselves too seriously. So go throw a pie in someone’s face, give someone a hotfoot, and slip on a Mr. Bean movie. Make sure it’s not my face, not my foot, and not at my house. I wouldn’t find it funny. Groove.