Legendary actor Dick Van Dyke, 98, still has career goals with no plans to retire

Legendary actor Dick Van Dyke has no plans to retire and has set his sights on new career goals.

In a recent interview with Deadline, Van Dyke went into detail about the early days of his career, how years of failure led to 60 years of success in Hollywood and why he won’t stop working.

“Well, it was a matter of just enjoying myself,” he said. “I always loved what I was doing. If it had felt like work, I probably would have stopped it a long time ago, but I just loved it.”

Van Dyke got his start in the 1940s as a radio announcer at the age of 17 and thought he would be a television announcer when that format became more popular, but things went a different way.

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He ended up forming a comedy group with his friends, The Merry Mutes, and toured the country, eventually landing an audition with CBS and signing a seven-year contract.

“They tried me as a game show host, a newsman — everything was a flop,” he said. “I was let go after three years, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me because I had to go out and look for work. I went to try out for every theater production going and eventually happened to get the lead in ‘Bye Bye Birdie.’”

The actor won a Tony Award for his role, which led to many more opportunities, including starring in “The Dick Van Dyke Show” for five seasons, “Mary Poppins,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and many other projects, the latest of which premiered in 2023.

“I’ve just done my first soap opera,” he said, referring to his four-episode appearance on “Days of Our Lives,” which earned him a Daytime Emmy nomination. “Never done that before. I played an old guy, of course, in a wheelchair. My wife played my attendant.”

With over six decades in the business and numerous lifetime achievement awards, Van Dyke still has career goals he has yet to accomplish.

“I’d still like to do a one-man show,” he told Deadline. “Cary Grant did it. And Gregory Peck. Went on the road and talked about their careers. I think it’d be fun.”

In December 2023, Van Dyke was honored with a TV variety special, “Dick Van Dyke 98 Years of Magic,” during which his iconic performances were celebrated and remembered.

Rita Ora put her spin on “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” Jason Alexander performed “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” Zachary Levi performed “Jolly Holiday” and other celebrities paid tribute with their versions of more of his popular songs.

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“There is a kind of sadness in [watching ‘98 Years of Magic’],” he said, “because all of the wonderful people that I loved and worked with over the years have gone. I realized I’ve outlived an entire generation. … I miss Rose [Marie] and Morey [Amsterdam] and all the wonderful people I worked with over the years. They should have been there.”

He went on to express just how much he missed friend Carl Reiner, the creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” who died in June 2020, saying, “I think I learned more from Carl Reiner than anyone else.”

Overall, the actor is happy with the legacy he has left behind him and his fan base, which continues to grow with each new generation.

“You know, yesterday I was looking at Facebook, and there was a video of a toddler in diapers trying to imitate me doing my dancing in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.’ And he had the moves. I just almost cried. Sixty years later, a little baby trying to dance like me,” he said.

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“I’m on my third generation now of kids who are writing to me. And I’m getting wonderful mail from their parents thanking me for providing good entertainment for their kids. They’re so kind about it. That, I really appreciate. I’m so lucky.”

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