Jerry Van Dyke
|Jerry Van Dyke|
Van Dyke in 1990
|Born||Jerry McCord Van Dyke
July 27, 1931
Danville, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||January 5, 2018
Hot Springs, Arkansas, U.S.
|Cause of death||Congestive heart failure|
|Children||3, including Kelly Jean Van Dyke|
|Relatives||Dick Van Dyke (brother)
Barry Van Dyke (nephew)
Van Dyke made his television acting debut on The Dick Van Dyke Show with several guest appearances as Rob Petrie's brother Stacey. While his infrequent starring roles were typically in poorly received sitcoms (My Mother the Car, one of the shows where he was the lead actor, is considered one of the worst sitcoms of all time), he enjoyed a long and successful career as a character actor in supporting and guest roles. From 1989 to 1997 he portrayed Luther Van Dam in Coach.
Van Dyke was born in Danville, Illinois on July 27, 1931, to Hazel Victoria (née McCord; 1896–1992), a stenographer, and Loren Wayne "Cookie" Van Dyke (1898–1976), a salesman. He was of Dutch, English, and Scottish descent. His mother was a Mayflower descendant.
Van Dyke pursued his stand-up comedy career while still in Danville High School and was already a veteran of strip joints and nightclubs when he joined the United States Air Force Tops In Blue in 1954 and 1955. During the mid-1950s, Van Dyke worked at WTHI-TV in Terre Haute, Indiana. The Jerry Van Dyke Show, which included future CBS News Early Show news anchor Joseph Benti, Nancee South and Ben Falber, was popular fare. In the service, he performed at military bases around the world, twice winning the All Air Force Talent Show.
Following his first guest appearances on The Dick Van Dyke Show and two others on CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show, CBS made him a regular on The Judy Garland Show. He was also given hosting chores on the 1963 game show Picture This. In that same year, movie audiences saw him in supporting roles in McLintock!, Palm Springs Weekend and The Courtship of Eddie's Father.
In 1963 Van Dyke was cast on an episode of GE True, hosted by Jack Webb. When The Judy Garland Show was unsuccessfully revamped, Van Dyke left the program. He turned down the offer to play Gilligan on Gilligan's Island, a role which instead went to Bob Denver. He rejected as well an offer to replace Don Knotts as Sheriff Andy Taylor's deputy on The Andy Griffith Show. Van Dyke finally accepted the lead role of attorney David Crabtree in My Mother the Car (1965), the misadventures of a man whose deceased mother Gladys (voiced by Ann Sothern) is reincarnated as a restored antique car. Though the series was a commercial failure, Van Dyke continued to work steadily in supporting television and film roles through the rest of the decade. He starred in another short-lived situation comedy Accidental Family (1967) as widowed comedian Jerry Webster who buys a farm to raise his son while he is not away on professional tours.
During the 1970s Van Dyke returned to stand-up comedy. He spent much of the decade touring Playboy Clubs around the country and headlining venues in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, Summerfest in Milwaukee, and in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He returned to television for guest appearances on Love, American Style and Fantasy Island. In 1973 he portrayed Wes Callison, News Writer, on the season four episode "Son of 'But Seriously, Folks'" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He also had roles in The Amazing Cosmic Awareness of Duffy Moon (1976) and 13 Queens Boulevard (1979).Also in 1989 he appeared as a panelist in the pilot for the revival of Match Game, hosted by Bert Convy, but due to his brain tumor, he was later replaced by Ross Shafer when it was turned into a series in 1990.
In 1988 he made a guest appearance on Scott Baio's sitcom Charles in Charge as Jamie Powell's health teacher Mr. Merkin. In 1989 Van Dyke began portraying beloved, yet befuddled, assistant coach Luther Van Dam on the long-running series Coach. For this role, he received four consecutive Emmy Award nominations (1990 through 1993) for "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series".
In 1995 he appeared in a series of Hardee's commercials to promote the Big Hardee, then in the late 1990s acted as the spokesperson for Big Lots. He appeared in Yes, Dear as Big Jimmy, the father of Jimmy Hughes. He made a guest appearance on a September 2008 episode of My Name Is Earl and in 2010 he made an appearance on the second-season episode, "A Simple Christmas" of the television series, The Middle, playing Frankie's father, Tag Spence. He returned in "Thanksgiving III" in November 2011, "Thanksgiving IV" in November 2012, "From Orson with Love" in May 2013, and "Thanksgiving V" in November 2013. “flirting with disaster” in March 2015 Van Dyke also played the object of Maw Maw's affections on the 18th episode of the first season of Raising Hope. In a December 2013 episode of The Millers he played Bud Miller, father to Margo Martindale's character, Carol. In his final television role in April 2015 he reprised his role as Frankie's father on The Middle, along with real-life brother Dick Van Dyke playing his character's brother.
Van Dyke was married twice and had three children with first wife Carol, daughters Jerri Lynn and Kelly Jean and son Ronald. Kelly Jean Van Dyke committed suicide in 1991, following struggles with substance abuse.
Van Dyke was an avid poker player and announced a number of poker tournaments for ESPN in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was also a four-string banjo player with several performances on The Dick Van Dyke Show to his credit.
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- Tops in Blue Our Story Published by Air Force Entertainment, 2005
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- "Jerry Van Dyke Dead at 86". TMZ. January 6, 2018. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
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- "The Middle: Two of a Kind Recap – Season 6 Episode 21". ABC.
- "Brothers Dick and Jerry Van Dyke clash in 'The Middle,' bond off-screen". Los Angeles Times. April 22, 2015.
- Kyle Smith; Lorenzo Benet (February 10, 1997). "The Death of Twins Peak actor Jack Nance was as strange as the characters he played". People. Retrieved March 13, 2014.