The Dick Van Dyke Show

The Dick Van Dyke Show Information

The Dick Van Dyke Show is an American television sitcom that initially aired on CBS from October 3, 1961, until June 1, 1966. The show was created by Carl Reiner and starred Dick Van Dyke, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam 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. A three-camera/studio audience format was used during production.

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


The two main settings show the work and home life of Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke), the head writer of a comedy/variety show produced in Manhattan. Viewers are given an "inside look" at how a television show (the fictitious The Alan Brady Show) was written and produced. 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 Lane 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).


Main article: List of The Dick Van Dyke Show episodes
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; "The Alan Brady Show Presents," which required elaborate set and costume changes; and "Happy Birthday and Too Many More," which was filmed on November 26, 1963, only four days after President Kennedy's assassination.

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



  • Rob Petrie (Robert Simpson Petrie; played by Dick Van Dyke) " 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 Petrie (née Laura Meehan; played by Mary Tyler Moore) " Rob's wife. As a 17-year-old dancer in the U.S.O., she met and married Rob; then she became a stay-at-home mom. About 60 actresses auditioned for the part before Moore was signed. Moore later wrote that she almost skipped the audition.
  • Buddy Sorrell (Maurice Sorrell; played by 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 (played by 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.
  • Ritchie Petrie (Richard Rosebud Petrie; played by Larry Mathews) " Rob's and Laura's son. (His middle name is an acronym for "Robert Oscar Sam Edward Benjamin Ulysses David," all the names suggested by members of Rob's and Laura's families in the episode "What's in a Middle Name?".)

  • Melvin "Mel" Cooley (Richard Deacon) " the balding producer of The Alan Brady Show"?and Alan Brady's brother-in-law. Though Mel can often be an obsequiously sycophantic yes-man to the demanding Brady, he is also shown to be a dedicated, competent producer. Mel is constantly at odds with Buddy, who often makes insulting comments about Mel's baldness, to which Mel often responds with a simple "Yechh!"
  • Millie Helper (Ann Morgan Guilbert) " the Petries' neighbor and Laura's best friend.
  • Jerry Helper (Jerry Paris) " Millie's husband, Rob's best friend, and a dentist.
  • Alan Brady (Carl Reiner) " the egocentric, toupee-wearing star of The Alan Brady Show. Originally an off-screen character, then shown only with his back to the camera or only in voice, Brady began to make full-face appearances in season four. 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 becomes an off-screen character after season two.
  • 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) are Rob's parents.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Alan Meehan " (Carl Benton Reid and Geraldine Wall) are 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.
  • Delivery Boy " 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.


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. 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.

CBS had intended to cancel the show after its first season, but Procter & Gamble threatened to pull its advertising from "the network's extremely lucrative daytime lineup" and the show was renewed, keeping its Wednesday night time slot. After going into summer reruns, the show jumped into the top 10 by the third episode of its second season. It may have been helped by coming directly after the new #1 hit, The Beverly Hillbillies.


In 1963, Morey Amsterdam guest starred as Buddy Sorrell during the final season of The Danny Thomas Show on the episode "The Woman Behind the Jokes".

Three decades after playing their respective roles of Sally and Buddy, Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam reprised them on an episode of Herman's Head titled "When Hairy Met Hermy".

Carl Reiner reprised the role of Alan Brady on an episode of Mad About You named after "The Alan Brady Show", a guest appearance that won him the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.

Cast reunions

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 alternative 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 Dykes 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.

Theme lyrics

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!

Broadcast history

  • Tuesday at 8:00-8:30 pm on CBS: October 3"?December 26, 1961
  • Wednesday at 9:30-10:00 pm on CBS: January 3, 1962"?May 13, 1964; September 15, 1965"?June 1, 1966
  • Wednesday at 9:00-9:30 pm on CBS: September 23, 1964"?May 26, 1965

Primetime Emmy Awards

The Dick Van Dyke Show was nominated for 25 Primetime Emmy Awards and won 15.

  • 1961"1962 (presented May 22, 1962)
    • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy: John Rich " Nominated
    • Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy: Carl Reiner " Won
  • 1962"1963 (presented May 26, 1963)
    • Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Series (Lead): Dick Van Dyke " Nominated
    • Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead): Mary Tyler Moore " Nominated
    • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy: John Rich " Won
    • Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actress: Rose Marie " Nominated
    • Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor " Won
    • Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy: Carl Reiner " Won
  • 1963"1964 (presented May 25, 1964)
    • Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Series (Lead): Dick Van Dyke " Won
    • Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead): Mary Tyler Moore " Won
    • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy: Jerry Paris " Won
    • Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actress: Rose Marie " Nominated
    • Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Comedy " Won
    • Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy or Variety: Carl Reiner, Sam Denoff and Bill Persky " Won
  • 1964"1965 (presented September 12, 1965)
    • Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment " Actors and Performers: Dick Van Dyke " Won (Shared with Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt for Hallmark Hall of Fame: "The Magnificent Yankee" and Barbra Streisand for My Name is Barbra)
    • Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment " Writers: Carl Reiner for "Never Bathe on Saturday" " Nominated
    • Outstanding Program Achievements in Entertainment: Carl Reiner, producer " Won
  • 1965"1966 (presented May 22, 1966)
    • Outstanding Comedy Series: Carl Reiner, producer " Won
    • Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series: Dick Van Dyke " Won
    • Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series: Mary Tyler Moore " Won
    • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy: Jerry Paris " Nominated
    • Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy: Morey Amsterdam " Nominated
    • Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy: Rose Marie " Nominated
    • Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy:
      • Bill Persky and Sam Denoff for "Coast to Coast Big Mouth" " Won
      • Bill Persky and Sam Denoff for "The Ugliest Dog in the World" " Nominated

Home video 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. On Blu-ray, the complete series, remastered in high definition, was released on November 13, 2012.

In Region 2, Revelation Films has released the first two seasons on DVD in the UK.

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

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 (DVD)
November 13, 2012 (Blu-ray)

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