The Dick Van Dyke Show

The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Dick Van Dyke Show.jpg
The opening for the second through fifth seasons.
Format Sitcom
Created by Carl Reiner
Written by Carl Reiner
Frank Tarloff (as "David Adler")
John Whedon
Sheldon Keller
Howard Merrill
Martin Ragaway
Bill Persky
Sam Denoff
Garry Marshall
Jerry Belson
Carl Kleinschmitt
Dale McRaven
Directed by Sheldon Leonard
John Rich
Jerry Paris
Howard Morris
Alan Rafkin
Starring Dick Van Dyke
Mary Tyler Moore
Rose Marie
Morey Amsterdam
Larry Mathews
Richard Deacon
Jerry Paris
Ann Morgan Guilbert
Joan Shawlee
Theme music composer Earle Hagen
Composer(s) Earle Hagen
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 158 + 1 reunion special (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Sheldon Leonard, in association with Danny Thomas
Producer(s) Carl Reiner
Bill Persky (1965)
Sam Denoff (1965)
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Calvada Productions
Original channel CBS
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original run October 3, 1961 (1961-10-03) – June 1, 1966 (1966-06-01)
Related shows The Danny Thomas Show
Mad About You

The Dick Van Dyke Show is an American television sitcom that initially aired on the Columbia Broadcasting System from October 3, 1961, until June 1, 1966. The show was created by Carl Reiner and starred Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. It was produced by Reiner with Bill Persky and Sam Denoff. The music for the show's theme song was written by Earle Hagen.[1] A three-camera/studio audience format was used during production.[citation needed]

The series won 15 Emmy Awards. In 1997, the episodes "Coast-to-Coast Big Mouth" and "It May Look Like a Walnut" were ranked #8 and #15 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.[2] In 2002, it was ranked #13 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.[3]



The two main settings show the work and home life of Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke), the head writer of a comedy variety show filmed in Manhattan. Viewers are given an "inside look" at how a television show (the fictitious The Alan Brady Show) was written and produced. Many of the show's plots were inspired by Reiner's experiences as a writer for Your Show of Shows, but though he based the character of Rob Petrie on himself, Rob's egocentric boss Alan Brady is less Sid Caesar (host of Your Show of Shows) than a combination of the more abrasive Milton Berle and Jackie Gleason, according to Reiner himself.[4] Many scenes deal with Rob and his coworkers, writers Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam) and Sally Rogers (Rose Marie). Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon), a balding straight man and recipient of numerous insulting one-liners from Buddy, was the show's producer and the brother-in-law of the show's star, Alan Brady (Carl Reiner). As Rob, Buddy, and Sally write for a comedy show, the premise provides a built-in forum for them to be making jokes constantly. Other scenes focus on the home life of Rob, his wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore), and son Richie (Larry Mathews), who live at 148 Bonnie Meadow Road in suburban New Rochelle, New York. Also often seen are their next-door neighbors and best friends, Jerry Helper (Jerry Paris), a dentist, and his wife Millie (Ann Morgan Guilbert).


Carl Reiner originally planned to produce and star in the series, which was going to be titled Head of the Family. The pilot episode was written by Reiner in 1960, but it was unsuccessful.[5] Reiner spent one summer on Fire Island where he wrote the first thirteen scripts for "Head of the Family". Prior to his development, Reiner had been one of Sid Ceasar's second bananas on "Your Show of Shows", "Ceasar's Hour" and "Sid Ceasar Invites You." Co-Starring with Ceasar are Larry Gelbart (Producer of M*A*S*H), and Mel Brooks (co-creator of Get Smart).

Referenced in A&E's Biography of Dick Van Dyke - Aired May 2000. A&E Television Networks.


Cast collaborations

In 1969, Van Dyke and Moore reunited for a one-hour variety special called Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman which included a never before seen alternate take from one of the show's episodes in which Van Dyke breaks down and cries after being dismissed from a film role instead of just being disappointed. A 1979 episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Hour featured Van Dyke and Moore reprising their roles as the Petries in a short sketch presented as the brainstorming of Van Dyke (guest-starring as himself) and the writers of Mary McKinnon's (Moore) variety series, who noted McKinnon's resemblance to "the gal who played Laura Petrie". In a 1995 episode of the sitcom Mad About You, Carl Reiner reprised the role of Alan Brady, appearing in a documentary by Paul Buchmann (Paul Reiser) about the early days of television. The episode included several other references to The Dick Van Dyke Show, including a scene in which Reiner and Reiser discuss whether it would be funnier to trip over an ottoman, or to step over it at the last moment. In 2003, TV Land produced The Alan Brady Show, an animated special presented as an episode of Dick Van Dyke's show-within-a-show. Reiner, Van Dyke, and Rose Marie contributed voice performances to the show. A 2004 reunion movie, The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited, brought together the surviving members of the cast. In this continuation, Rob and Laura have left their New Rochelle home to Richie and moved to Manhattan, where Laura runs a dance studio. Alan Brady re-enters their lives to ask Rob to write his eulogy, with the help of a happily-married Sally Rogers.


In a 2010 interview on National Public Radio, Van Dyke revealed that Morey Amsterdam wrote a set of lyrics for the show's theme song:

So you think that you've got troubles?
Well, trouble's a bubble
So tell old Mr. Trouble to get lost!
Why not hold your head up high and
Stop cryin', start tryin'
And don't forget to keep your fingers crossed.
When you find the joy of livin'
Is lovin' and givin'
You'll be there when the winning dice are tossed.
A smile is just a frown that's turned upside down
So smile, and that frown will defrost.
And don't forget to keep your fingers crossed
Bud-ump bump![6]



While his wife is away, Buddy becomes the Petries’ houseguest.
  • Robert Simpson "Rob" Petrie (Dick Van Dyke), the head comedy writer for a fictional New York television variety series called The Alan Brady Show. The role of Rob Petrie was almost given to Johnny Carson, but Sheldon Leonard, the show's executive producer, suggested Van Dyke.
  • Laura Meeker/Meehan Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore), Rob's wife. A stay-at-home mom and former dancer in the U.S.O. (where she met Rob). About 60 actresses auditioned for the part before Moore was signed. Moore later wrote that she almost skipped the audition.
  • Maurice "Buddy" Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam) – an energetic (and at times facetious) "human joke machine", one of the comedy writers. Amsterdam was recommended for the role by Rose Marie as soon as she had signed on to the series. Buddy is constantly making fun of Mel Cooley, the show's producer, for being bald and dull. His character is loosely based on Mel Brooks who also wrote for Your Show of Shows. He makes frequent jokes about his marriage to his wife "Pickles." In several episodes, it is mentioned that Buddy is Jewish. He was identified by his Yiddish name, Moishe Selig, when he had his belated bar mitzvah in "Buddy Sorrell – Man and Boy." Additionally, Buddy owns a large German Shepherd named Larry and plays the cello. Buddy made a guest appearance on the Danny Thomas Show episode, "The Woman Behind the Jokes" that aired October 21, 1963.
  • Sally Rogers (Rose Marie), another of the comedy writers (and the comedy trio's designated typist), who is always on the lookout for a husband. The character was loosely based on Selma Diamond and Lucille Kallen, both writers for Your Show of Shows. She never drinks and quotes frequently from her "Aunt Agnes in Cleveland". She has an on-again/off-again relationship with her boyfriend Herman Glimscher, who seems to be too much of a mama's boy to get married. She frequently scares men off with her sense of humor and strong personality.
  • Richard "Ritchie" [7] Rosebud Petrie (Larry Mathews), Rob's and Laura's son. (His middle name is an acronym for "Robert Oscar Sam Edward Benjamin Ulysses David," all members of Rob's and Laura's families.)


  • Melvin "Mel" Cooley (Richard Deacon), the balding producer of The Alan Brady Show (and Brady's brother-in-law), who is constantly at odds with Buddy, who often makes insulting comments about Mel's baldness, to which Mel often responds with a simple "Yechh!"
  • Jerry (Jerry Paris), a dentist by profession, and his wife, Mildred "Millie" Krumbermacher Helper (Ann Morgan Guilbert), the Petries' next-door neighbors.
  • Alan Brady (Carl Reiner), the egocentric, toupee-wearing star of The Alan Brady Show. Originally an offscreen character, then shown only with his back to the camera or only in voice, Brady began to make full-face appearances in the fourth season. Alan appeared on the Mad About You episode, "The Alan Brady Show", named after the fictional show within The Dick Van Dyke Show, that aired February 16, 1995.

Secondary characters:

  • Stacey Petrie (Jerry Van Dyke), Rob's brother, banjo player, and onetime sleepwalker, played by Dick Van Dyke's real-life brother.
  • Fiona "Pickles" Conway Sorrell (Barbara Perry/Joan Shawlee), Buddy's slightly nutty wife. She became an offscreen character after Season 2.
  • Herman Glimscher (Bill Idelson), Sally's occasional and nerdy boyfriend. In the 2004 reunion special, Sally and Herman had been married for years. (In an early episode, Sally mentioned having dated a Woodrow Glimscher, presumably a relative, until Woodrow's overbearing mother arranged for her to date Herman instead.)
  • Sam (or Edward) and Clara Petrie (Will Wright/J. Pat O'Malley/Tom Tully and Carol Veazie/Isabel Randolph), Rob's parents.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Alan Meehan (Carl Benton Reid and Geraldine Wall), Laura's parents.
  • Freddie Helper (Peter Oliphant), Millie and Jerry Helper's son and Richie's closest friend.
  • Sol/Sam Pomeroy/Pomerantz, Rob's army buddy in flashback episodes, was originally played by Marty Ingels. The character's names changed over the course of the series. Ingels left the role in 1962 to star in I'm Dickens, He's Fenster. In 1963, the character was played by two actors, Allan Melvin and Henry Calvin.[8]
  • Delivery Boy was originally a nameless character played by Jamie Farr in four Season One episodes. Subsequently, he was given the name Willie and Herbie Faye played the role. (Faye also played other characters in later episodes.)

A group of character actors played several different roles during the five seasons. Actors who appeared more than once, sometimes in different roles, included Johnny Silver, Amzie Strickland, Eleanor Audley, Sandy Kenyon (who also appeared in the 2004 reunion special), Jackie Joseph, Doris Singleton, Peter Hobbs, Len Weinrib, Burt Remsen, George Tyne, Bella Bruck, Jerry Hausner, Herb Vigran, Alvy Moore, Jane Dulo, Bernard Fox, Dabbs Greer, Elvia Allman (as Herman Glimscher's mother), and Tiny Brauer. Frank Adamo, who served as Van Dyke's stand-in, also played small roles on several episodes throughout the show's five years.

Broadcast History

Season Day & Time Preceded or Followed by
1 (1961-1962) Tuesdays at 8:00 pm (October 3 - December 26, 1961)
Wednesdays at 9:30 pm (January 3 - April 18, 1962)
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis at 8:30 pm
Checkmate at 8:30 pm
2 (1962-1963) Wednesdays at 9:30 pm The Beverly Hillbillies at 9:00 pm
3 (1963-1964)
4 (1964-1965) Wednesdays at 9:00 pm The Cara Williams Show at 9:30 pm (September 23, 1964 - April 21, 1965)
Our Private World at 9:30 pm (May 5 - May 26, 1965)
5 (1965-1966) Wednesdays at 9:30 pm Green Acres at 9:00 pm

Nielsen Ratings

Season Rank Rating
1 (1961–62) not in the top 30 N/A
2 (1962-63) #9 27.1
3 (1963-64) #3 33.3
4 (1964-65) #7 27.1
5 (1965-66) #16 23.6

As a Top 30 series, The Dick Van Dyke Show has an average rating of 27.8.


Rob throws his hat into the ring in the election for city councilman.

At least three episodes were filmed without a live studio audience: "The Bad Old Days," which featured an extended flashback sequence that relied on optical effects that would have been impractical to shoot with a live audience in the studio;[9] "The Alan Brady Show Presents," which required elaborate set and costume changes;[10] and "Happy Birthday and Too Many More," which was filmed on November 26, 1963, only four days after the John F. Kennedy assassination.[11]

Reiner considered moving the production of the series to full color as early as its third season, only to drop the idea when he was informed that it would add about $7,000 to the cost of each episode.[12]

DVD releases

Image Entertainment has released all five seasons of The Dick Van Dyke Show on DVD in Region 1. Season sets were released between October 2003 – June 2004. Also, on May 24, 2005, Image Entertainment repackaged the discs from the individual season sets into a complete series box set.

In Region 4, Umbrella Entertainment released Season 1 on DVD in Australia on September 1, 2011.[13]

DVD Name Ep# Release Date
Season 1 31 October 21, 2003
Season 2 33 October 21, 2003
Season 3 31 February 24, 2004
Season 4 32 April 27, 2004
Season 5 31 June 29, 2004
The Complete Series 158 May 24, 2005


  1. ^ "Dick Van Dyke Plays Not My Job". NPR. October 23, 2010. Retrieved February 13, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28-July 4). 1997. 
  3. ^ "TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows". CBS News. April 26, 2002. Retrieved June 18, 2011. 
  4. ^ John Clark, "'2,000 Year Old Man' still kicking on new DVD", San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 22, 2009
  5. ^ Cullum, Paul. "The Dick Van Dyke Show". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Retrieved September 25, 2011. 
  6. ^ Dick Van Dyke Plays Not My Job (October 23, 2010) archive Retrieved September 6, 2011
  7. ^ Waldron, Vince (2011). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Bookl. Episode Guide: Chicago Review Press. pp. 291. ISBN 978-1-56976-839-6. 
  8. ^ Waldron, Vince (2011). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book. Episode Guide: Chicago Review Press. pp. 291, 299, 303, 320, 334, 351, 361, 377, 379, 383, 387. ISBN 978-1-56976-839-6. 
  9. ^ Waldron, Vince (2011). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book. Episode Guide: Chicago Review Press. pp. 310. ISBN 1569768390. 
  10. ^ Waldron, Vince (2011). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book. Episode Guide: Chicago Review Press. pp. 334. ISBN 1569768390. 
  11. ^ Waldron, Vince (2011). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book. Episode Guide: Chicago Review Press. pp. 336–337. ISBN 1569768390. 
  12. ^ Waldron, Vince (2011). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book. Footnote: Chicago Review Press. pp. 250. ISBN 1569768390. 
  13. ^

External links

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