32 behind-the-scenes photos that prove The Dick Van Dyke Show cast were total characters
"Nobody asked the question, ‘Has anybody heard of Dick Van Dyke?’"
Images: The Everett Collection
When The Dick Van Dyke Show premiered, history seems to forget that nobody actually knew who Dick Van Dyke was.
In an interview with the Archive of Amerian Television, Van Dyke explained that it wasn't that he was some huge star that led the show's name to change from Carl Reiner's original title Head of the Family to the show's eventual name The Dick Van Dyke Show. Instead, he said it had more to do with how Reiner's title didn't say anything about the workplace sitcom side of the show, which was a big part of what made the Sixties series so groundbreaking.
So, they tossed around names like Double Trouble, but eventually Van Dyke recalled that someone pointed out how Make Room for Daddy later got changed to The Danny Thomas Show, simply because that's how people referred to it. Predicting the same thing might happen with Van Dyke's vehicle, Van Dyke said it was out of an inability to come up with something better that led the hit sitcom to be named for him. "Nobody asked the question, ‘Has anybody ever heard of Dick Van Dyke?’ No, they named it [that] after want of a better name," Van Dyke said modestly in his interview.
Still, what The Dick Van Dyke Show lacked in a big name for its debut, they more than made up for in seriously experienced stage players. Van Dyke called out Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam for establishing the show's perfect sense of comedic timing, "From the very beginning, it was a lot of fun because Morey and Rosie were two people who had comedy timing like nobody in the world. You just rode on top of that rhythm that they set up.”
Then, of course, there's the show's breakout star Mary Tyler Moore, who eventually went on to influence TV's future even more, first in her own hit workplace sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show, then as the co-founder of MTM Enterprises. Van Dyke remembered how instantly Moore responded to the experienced players suddenly surrounding her, "It was just fascinating to watch Mary Tyler Moore just grasp it so quickly, from the first day. She saw what was happening and played on it.”
The chemistry of this cast led to a ton of laughs, which made us wonder: How much fun did these total characters have behind the scenes while putting together this singular sitcom? As you scroll through the photos below, you'll find the answer to that is as clear as this cast is talented.