Dick Van Dyke, indisputably one of the greats of the golden age of television, is admired and beloved by audiences the world over for his beaming smile, his physical dexterity, his impeccable comic timing, his ridiculous stunts, and his unforgettable screen roles. His trailblazing television program, The Dick Van Dyke Show (produced by Carl Reiner, who has written the foreword to this memoir), was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1960s and introduced another major television star, Mary Tyler Moore. But Dick Van Dyke was also an enormously engaging movie star whose films, including Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, have been discovered by a new generation of fans and are as beloved today as they were when they first appeared. Who doesn’t know the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious? A colorful, loving, richly detailed look at the decades of a multilayered life, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business will enthrall every generation of listener, from baby-boomers who recall when Rob Petrie became a household name to all those still enchanted by Bert’s “Chim Chim Cher-ee”. This is a lively, heartwarming memoir of a performer who still thinks of himself as a “simple song-and-dance man”, but who is, in every sense of the word, a classic entertainer.
“In my opinion, 'Luck’ has little to do with Dick Van Dyke’s life. It is, rather, his innate kindness and talent that have had an extraordinary effect in shaping the man. And what a fascinating self-portrait he’s given us in this book.” (Mary Tyler Moore) “From the time I worked with Dick on the movie Bye Bye Birdie, I have admired his many talents, not the least of which is the joy and enthusiasm he shares with audiences. I’m a big fan of his... and his book.” (Ann-Margret)
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If you are like me, you will feel very lucky if you decide to listen to this fine book and performance.With its refreshing lack of cynicism and the wonderful story of the lucky life of a man who has been well known to children, parents, ... pretty much every American.To me, Dick Van Dyke is both "Bert" from Mary Poppins and the great, loving Dad in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Of course I saw his iconic television shows often as a child and later as a young adult. But in both Mary Poppins and Chitty, Van Dyke story is an important part of my own reality at that time.His courageous "family-friendly" decisions about the parts and films he would perform are similar to the decisions that my father and uncle made for the same reasons during the same timeline (60s and onward). I well remember being embarrassed at school where I was teased because my Dad made kid's films. My friends' parents made "grown up" movies, while like Van Dyke, mine only did "kid's stuff." I find in hindsight, now as a mother with three kids and three step-kids, that my embarrassment was very misplaced and Van Dyke's decision to be a "family movie" actor, like the Sherman Brothers' decisions, were courageous (My father is one of the Sherman Brothers who Walt Disney introduced Dick Van Dyke to my Father and Uncle as the culmination of his initial introduction to the movie-in-progress to hear many of the Mary Poppins songs. This meeting and Dick's reaction to the whole project, especially the music, is beautifully described in My Lucky Life's Chapter called A Jolly Holiday. I was a pre-teen during that time. My Dad, Robert, the brother than Dick describes as the "quiet" one and Van Dyke were friendly.) Like Van Dyke, my father wasn't into the party scene, and as I listened to this autobiography, I found myself learning why these two naturally imaginative but not perfect men, both incredible creatives, were friends. I was often on the Disney lot during the filming of Mary Poppins as I was a professional singer from age 5 - 18. I found that the author's description of Walt Disney was very similar to the way that I understood him. I was lucky enough to see Disney, Van Dyke and other actors, directors, animators, and more at work together.On my breaks from singing, I would visit my Dad and Uncle whose office was three doors down from Walt's in the old Animation Building. Watching the intensive and interactive type of creativity that was pervasive on the Disney lot until Walt passed away taught me how to believe in myself as a creative person and also as a manager of creative people doing creative work, no matter the topic or The book is read by Dick Van Dyke, which is an essential aspect of the book's excellence.His friendly, casual writing is augmented by his friendly, casual vocal work, combined with his perfect timing makes listening to this book a delight. He is not trying to be funny, and it is not a joke book. It covers serious subjects with a lightness. I tend to think that some of it is understated, or perhaps remembered more kindly than it was at the time, but that is part of the charm of the book and it's author. This is an ideal "first read" because for most of us, Van Dyke is a "known quantity" and someone with whom we are comfortable. If Van Dyke is "in touch" with the threads and stories of his life as much as it seems in this book, he is blessed. I think that this is the case, that Van Dyke is indeed lucky and also blessed.It also seems that he is aware of this. His story allows us into his life, his decisions and the lucky breaks that have made his life a lucky one. In my opinion, the author understates the problems he has had and the solutions which he has chosen. Audiences may feel that the "family G-rated observations" of experiences like substance abuse does bring down the reality of his telling a few points. But how could he really help but to be Lucky? He was (and IS for each generation of children whose parents show them the Mary Poppins video or on line) a Chimney Sweep, and as we all well know "a sweep is as luck as lucky can be."
I love this book, my wife told me about this book and I got hooked from his first story. It is a fast listen and hearing Mr Van Dyke tell his own story is worth it. I can't imagine any other narrator telling his story. I have been a fan sense The Dick Van Dyke show and a big Mary Poppins fan. He is a big inspiration in my life as for I am a family comedy performer.