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My Lucky Life in and Out of Show Business

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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 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 reader, 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. From the Hardcover edition.


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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 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 reader, 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. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for My Lucky Life in and Out of Show Business

  1. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I'm a big fan of Dick Van Dyke. Whenever I'm sick I watch The Dick Van Dyke Show and it makes me feel better. Growing up I would watch Diagnosis Murder with my mom and grandma. Dick Van Dyke has just always been a comfortable and family friendly tv star. I've never really given much thought to Mr. Van Dyke's personal life. Before reading this book the only thing I knew about his life was that his son Barry starred along side him on Diagnosis Murder. If not for my bookclub I don't think I would I'm a big fan of Dick Van Dyke. Whenever I'm sick I watch The Dick Van Dyke Show and it makes me feel better. Growing up I would watch Diagnosis Murder with my mom and grandma. Dick Van Dyke has just always been a comfortable and family friendly tv star. I've never really given much thought to Mr. Van Dyke's personal life. Before reading this book the only thing I knew about his life was that his son Barry starred along side him on Diagnosis Murder. If not for my bookclub I don't think I would have ever cared to read about him. He's just not someone who's personal life I was ever interested in. I'm glad I read My Lucky Life In And Out Of Show Business but I don't feel as though I learned all that much about him. He let's us know from the jump that we won't be getting any gossip but I didn't feel like we got any substance either. He breezes past his decades long battle with alcoholism and makes his years long extramarital affair seem G-Rated and quaint. The most heartbreaking story in the whole book is about his monkey costar ( It is a really sad story and I don't even like animals). I think I would have enjoyed this book far more had he dug a little deeper. It was just a little too sanitized. I still enjoyed this book, its a quick and sugary read. If you're looking for a light fun read this book is for you but if you like your memoir/ biographies to have a harder edge I'd skip this one. Read for The Silver Screen Book Club.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    I haven't read this book. I won't, in all likelihood, ever read it. But I grew up loving The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Mary Poppins, and and and... But my coming here, finding this book, and rating it was in service of bringing the following quote to Van Dyke's legions of mildly interested fans: In July 2016, Van Dyke said of Donald Trump, "He has been a magnet to all the racists and xenophobes in the country, I haven't been this scared since the Cuban Missile Crisis. I think the human race is I haven't read this book. I won't, in all likelihood, ever read it. But I grew up loving The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Mary Poppins, and and and... But my coming here, finding this book, and rating it was in service of bringing the following quote to Van Dyke's legions of mildly interested fans: In July 2016, Van Dyke said of Donald Trump, "He has been a magnet to all the racists and xenophobes in the country, I haven't been this scared since the Cuban Missile Crisis. I think the human race is hanging in a delicate balance right now, and I'm just so afraid he will put us in a war. He scares me." Mr. Van Dyke/Dr. Sloan/Mr. Petrie, I salute you.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I had every intention of writing my review the minute I finished this book, but it didn’t happen. In point of fact I put it aside, picking up my daughter and withdrew to the living where we turned on Mary Poppins. Watching her giggle and bounce to the music warmed my heart, but the insight offered by his biography made Van Dyke’s performance all the more endearing. Van Dyke's dedication to family friendly entertainment is genuinely impressive and nowhere is that more evident in his descriptions I had every intention of writing my review the minute I finished this book, but it didn’t happen. In point of fact I put it aside, picking up my daughter and withdrew to the living where we turned on Mary Poppins. Watching her giggle and bounce to the music warmed my heart, but the insight offered by his biography made Van Dyke’s performance all the more endearing. Van Dyke's dedication to family friendly entertainment is genuinely impressive and nowhere is that more evident in his descriptions of the film and television industries. That said, the book is about more than an actor keeping his integrity in show business, it’s also about a man and the things he had to overcome, a person coming to terms with his struggles and finding a path forward. I didn't know a lot about Dick Van Dyke when I stumbled over this book, but I found his story very interesting just the same and appreciate both the nostalgic quality of the book and how open the author was about the harder chapters of his life.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    As a rule I usually do not read memoirs because in reality not all famous people are good writers. But I wanted to make an exception here because as a kid I loved watching the Dick Van Dyke show and Mary Poppins. Well... I may not change my opinion on memoirs anytime soon. Van Dyke writes the book in chronological order and you get to read about some of his rough times, how he grew up, and how sometimes he truly did get lucky. Some of the parts of the book I did enjoy were when he talked about As a rule I usually do not read memoirs because in reality not all famous people are good writers. But I wanted to make an exception here because as a kid I loved watching the Dick Van Dyke show and Mary Poppins. Well... I may not change my opinion on memoirs anytime soon. Van Dyke writes the book in chronological order and you get to read about some of his rough times, how he grew up, and how sometimes he truly did get lucky. Some of the parts of the book I did enjoy were when he talked about his family, but I'd say most of the book concentrated on his career. The writing style was kind of dry for me and I couldn't summon a lot of curiosity for all the names he threw out. The way he introduced these actors and actresses it made it seem the regular American would have heard about these big names. If I had grown up around that time maybe I would have, but the generation gap is evident here. I simply can't relate to it quite the same as someone else would. But that isn't a necessarily negative thing because it just goes to show that Mr. Van Dyke managed to work on something that would endure the test of time and became American classics. I should have realized that just because I liked his work as an entertainer it does not mean that I would dig his writing style. It makes me that much more grateful for the wonderful storytellers and acknowledge how hard it is to be a great writer. That's why not everybody is a professional author, but I'm glad he wrote the story. The rating comes more from my own disappoint than his actually writing ability. Though I may not love his writing, I will still love to watch his full body comedy and trademark humor with a smile on my face.

  5. 4 out of 5

    V. Briceland

    Dick Van Dyke's celebrity memoir, spanning his career of sixty years, goes down like mayonnaise on white bread--unobjectionable, but hardly interesting. Everything passes by without much impact or examination. His work on the groundbreaking The Dick Van Dyke Show was fun. Mary Tyler Moore was a sweet gal. Walt Disney was a heck of a guy. Martin Luther King Jr. sure was swell. It's a little odd that the most emotionally-resonant scene in the book (moreso than either his divorce or the death of a Dick Van Dyke's celebrity memoir, spanning his career of sixty years, goes down like mayonnaise on white bread--unobjectionable, but hardly interesting. Everything passes by without much impact or examination. His work on the groundbreaking The Dick Van Dyke Show was fun. Mary Tyler Moore was a sweet gal. Walt Disney was a heck of a guy. Martin Luther King Jr. sure was swell. It's a little odd that the most emotionally-resonant scene in the book (moreso than either his divorce or the death of a beloved granddaughter, even) involves his relationship with Dinky, a trained chimp for the movie Lt. Robin Crusoe U.S.N. But hey, it's Hollywood, where every monkey gets a shot at the big time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I've always liked & admired Dick Van Dyke. He's never been part of the Hollywood drama, always seemed like a genuine person, & has been a fixture on TV my entire life. He's also a great comedian, a great dancer, & a fun singer, so I really looked forward to this autobiography. There weren't any big surprises. It was a lot of fun getting a peek behind the scenes of some of his projects & other Hollywood icons like Stan Laurel & Buster Keeton. It's great to hear how active he I've always liked & admired Dick Van Dyke. He's never been part of the Hollywood drama, always seemed like a genuine person, & has been a fixture on TV my entire life. He's also a great comedian, a great dancer, & a fun singer, so I really looked forward to this autobiography. There weren't any big surprises. It was a lot of fun getting a peek behind the scenes of some of his projects & other Hollywood icons like Stan Laurel & Buster Keeton. It's great to hear how active he still is. I also appreciated his candor in his personal struggles with his marriage, alcohol, & smoking. He did a great job narrating it, as I expected. That pretty much sums up the book, it was what I expected. That doesn't take away from it at all though. I had high expectations going in & he didn't let me down.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Dick Van Dyke is one of my favorite actors, but the book was sort of "meh". He was a trailblazer in show business, in radio, TV, and movies, but this book just wasn't hitting it. In an early part of the book, he describe a time he was performing for the Hollywood elite (which included Lucille Ball) and no one was laughing, and there was definitely no applause. That's about how I felt with the book. There were some interesting stories, and some chuckle-inducing ones, too, but overall, it was just Dick Van Dyke is one of my favorite actors, but the book was sort of "meh". He was a trailblazer in show business, in radio, TV, and movies, but this book just wasn't hitting it. In an early part of the book, he describe a time he was performing for the Hollywood elite (which included Lucille Ball) and no one was laughing, and there was definitely no applause. That's about how I felt with the book. There were some interesting stories, and some chuckle-inducing ones, too, but overall, it was just very flat.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Dick Van Dyke is, in some ways, just an overgrown kid from Illinois. He has a very Midwestern outlook on some things. That's the part of him we all know and love. Bert--Caractacus--Rob Petrie--that's the Dick Van Dyke you expect when you pick up this book, because that's the Dick Van Dyke who made you smile as a kid, who you sang along with and opened your little heart to. Yes, you know intellectually that they're not the same person, but your inner child will insist that they are anyway. Sad to Dick Van Dyke is, in some ways, just an overgrown kid from Illinois. He has a very Midwestern outlook on some things. That's the part of him we all know and love. Bert--Caractacus--Rob Petrie--that's the Dick Van Dyke you expect when you pick up this book, because that's the Dick Van Dyke who made you smile as a kid, who you sang along with and opened your little heart to. Yes, you know intellectually that they're not the same person, but your inner child will insist that they are anyway. Sad to say, it's not what you get. You get Dick Van Dyke the alcoholic smoker who went with another woman before he'd actually divorced his wife. He tried to be good, and I suppose that counts for something, but it's still heartbreaking to the child still inside who wanted to hear about how much fun it was to sing and dance with Julie Andrews. He doesn't talk about that, beyond a brief mention. I also expected this book to be funny, and it wasn't. I can recall one line that amused me, and he included it in his book but it was Cloris Leachman who said it, not him. I think Van Dyke's own brother said it best, that he always tries to be smarter than he is. There's a lot of pseudo-philosophizing that's little more than annoying, since he plays it off as profound and it's actually quite shallow. I'm quite disgusted with Hollywood people at this point, actually. They have too much time on their hands, I guess, and they spend it being depressed about their multi-million dollar lives and doing drugs (well, being an alcoholic in this case, but that's bad enough on its own) and drinking and partying and generally being wastrels. They should have to get day jobs, and filmmaking should be relegated to being a hobby, so then maybe they'd be too busy for drugs and alcohol and doing stupid things. I'm aware of how ridiculous that sounds even as I'm typing it, but I don't care, because I'm mad and put out and disgusted right now, so I'm saying it anyway, because it's as close as I can come to verbalizing my frustration. The other part of my frustration is politics. Not my politics, celebrity politics. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, yes, but as a celebrity you have to be aware of the sway your opinion could potentially have, and instead of trying to use it, maybe shut up. I don't want to know about your politics, whether they agree with mine or not. Disgust is about the only word I can think of to describe my feelings on this book. I feel like Bert was a lie now. I feel lied to. I'm sure I'll get over it eventually, but I'll never like this book. You can read it if you want, but if you loved Mary Poppins or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a kid, you have been warned.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I struggle with giving this book a low rating: I mean, it is Dick Van Dyke! He is classic. He is defining. We all cheered loudly when he appeared in Mary Poppins Returns because he is, simply, an icon of multiple generations now. Picking up this book, my question was not if it would be great but how great. The thing is...there is not much of interest here. Oh, I suppose as a recap of Dick Van Dyke's life it is interesting enough. He worked hard, embraced many cool opportunities, and overcame I struggle with giving this book a low rating: I mean, it is Dick Van Dyke! He is classic. He is defining. We all cheered loudly when he appeared in Mary Poppins Returns because he is, simply, an icon of multiple generations now. Picking up this book, my question was not if it would be great but how great. The thing is...there is not much of interest here. Oh, I suppose as a recap of Dick Van Dyke's life it is interesting enough. He worked hard, embraced many cool opportunities, and overcame quite a bit. But it fails to satisfy in any regard. As a look at life in Hollywood, it provides very few details besides a list of people he met, worked with, or particularly liked. As a narrative of his varied acting experiences, he gives very few (almost no) details besides how much he loved the Dick Van Dyke Show. (Did you know everyone thought his co-star was his wife? He will remind you of it. Often.) As a story of his life, it provides the facts but often with little more than you would expect from a Wikipedia page. His wife's early miscarriage, his own alcoholism and affair, the loss of a granddaughter...none of it gets more than lightly touched on. If there is one reoccurring theme, it is his seemingly deistic perspective on "love" and "good works." In short, his worldview boils down to everyone should be the affable, non-confrontational person that Dick Van Dyke is. And really, what this book is. It is a very bland, very polite, very grateful, but altogether uninspiring story. Which is too bad. It didn't need lots of Hollywood gossip. But it did need a little more vulnerability to make it more than an informational, and yet somehow uninformative, story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I sent for this book right after I read Tim Conway's bio. While I enjoyed that book more this is a good book. There are some chuckles here but there is also a serious story of Dick Van Dyke's life in show business. I knew before I picked this up that he'd had a struggle with alcohol so it wasn't a shock but that is only part of the story. Like many people the Dick Van Dyke Show was a staple of TV viewing in our home when I was a kid. After that he was always "around". That program stayed in I sent for this book right after I read Tim Conway's bio. While I enjoyed that book more this is a good book. There are some chuckles here but there is also a serious story of Dick Van Dyke's life in show business. I knew before I picked this up that he'd had a struggle with alcohol so it wasn't a shock but that is only part of the story. Like many people the Dick Van Dyke Show was a staple of TV viewing in our home when I was a kid. After that he was always "around". That program stayed in syndication (and still has) plus he did guest shots, specials and movies. He did what I think of as the last of the good TV mystery type shows. Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Ironside even Perry Mason (to go back a few years) shows like this had been around since TV's inception. Now they are "out of vogue" as we need in each half hour of a mystery program at least 2 sex scenes, a shoot out and a car chase.... Dick Van Dyke did Diagnosis Murder from '93 until 2001. He was told it was 20 years out of date...but it kept winning in the ratings. This a good and enjoyable story. While I suspect that Mr. Van Dyke and I would often disagree I don't see how anyone would not get along with him. Enjoy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    I always loved Dick van Dyke and now even more. This book is an autobiography written by a humble, talented, humorous and sweet human being. Its honest, insightful and funny. As so many entertainers/artists/actors, he was torn between his self-perception and his public image. Witch he desperately tried to live up to. All trough the book you can feel the respect and love he and his fans shared, and his appreciation for it. The anecdotes including Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy, show us that he I always loved Dick van Dyke and now even more. This book is an autobiography written by a humble, talented, humorous and sweet human being. Its honest, insightful and funny. As so many entertainers/artists/actors, he was torn between his self-perception and his public image. Witch he desperately tried to live up to. All trough the book you can feel the respect and love he and his fans shared, and his appreciation for it. The anecdotes including Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy, show us that he was the first to be amazed and surprised at his own fame. Dick van Dyke went through some highs and lows, witch are the most noticeable when he least writes about them. His honesty in admitting his addictions to alcohol and Cigarettes, and his losses make him even more likable. The writing is light and pleasurable. But sometimes it felt to me as if some of the ideas for this book had been in the back of his head for a very long time. And others just emerged. (In regard of the writing style, and depth of remembrance) Al together a great read for fans.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    I barely read any non-fiction (outside of the technical writing found in information technology reference guides) in any given year. When I do branch out away from fiction, I prefer to read a biography, autobiography or memoir, or a history book, usually on a particular brief period. I breezed through Dick Van Dyke's autobiography quickly, probably because it felt like he sat in my living regaling me with tales from his past in his engaging and witty manner. His charm and good will bubbled out I barely read any non-fiction (outside of the technical writing found in information technology reference guides) in any given year. When I do branch out away from fiction, I prefer to read a biography, autobiography or memoir, or a history book, usually on a particular brief period. I breezed through Dick Van Dyke's autobiography quickly, probably because it felt like he sat in my living regaling me with tales from his past in his engaging and witty manner. His charm and good will bubbled out of the pages. Even the troubles and tragedies he confessed only evoked my compassion or caring in my assessment of him. A couple of excerpts that really struck a chord for me: I was all about living a kind, righteous, moral, forgiving, and loving life seven-days a week, not just the one day when you went to church. ... And if there's not a higher power, no one's going to be worse for the wear for his or her effort. Was there one way? No, not as far as I could tell -- other than to feel loved, to love back, ... as simple as making sure you spend time helping make life a little better for other people. (from the Family Values chapter) A few years ago, I told Esquire magazine that the Buddhists boiled it down to the essentials. They said you need three things in life: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. The message does not get any clearer. I heard walt Disney, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Carl Reiner all say the same thing in their own way. Hope is life's essential nutrient, and love is what gives life meaning. I think you need somebody to love and take care of, and someone who loves you back. In that sense, I think the New Testament got it right. So did the Beatles. Without love, nothing has any meaning. (from the Curtain Calls chapter) When I finished the book, I wanted to give him a big hug, but of course, I'm too far away to do that. So I'll send him a little love for all the laughs and love he's shared unconditionally with me, with all of us really, for some many decades. As long as I've been alive, there's always been a Dick Van Dyke to make me smile.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Versel Rush

    Van Dyke warns the reader in the first pages that if they are looking for scandals to look elsewhere. While including his now well documented alcoholism and his divorce, this is not a salacious tell all filled with backstage backstabbing. In fact, though he does cover his childhood and family life, “My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business” is more a series of stories by a true icon of American theatre, television, and movies. The stories cover everything from his very early days in high Van Dyke warns the reader in the first pages that if they are looking for scandals to look elsewhere. While including his now well documented alcoholism and his divorce, this is not a salacious tell all filled with backstage backstabbing. In fact, though he does cover his childhood and family life, “My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business” is more a series of stories by a true icon of American theatre, television, and movies. The stories cover everything from his very early days in high school dramatics through his appearance in “Night at the Museum”. His unabashed love of “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, its cast (particularly Mary Tyler Moore), and Carl Reiner comes through clearly. In fact, more than anything, this is a love story between a man and his job. A song and dance man who started with minimal training, Dick Van Dyke writes he lucked into most of his career, just being in the right place at the right time. He turned down roles he wished he hadn’t but looks back on his life without many regrets. He is proud that he was a better father than his father (who he doesn’t skewer but paints as a hard working man who had to give up his dreams when his girlfriend who had become pregnant with Dick, who didn’t find out he was conceived out of wedlock until 17) and that his children are better parents than him. He writes of trying to be a “good boy” his entire life, just like his mama taught him in Danville. He is proud he insisted on doing family entertainment. He is adamant that just because you are old doesn’t mean you are less. And, even through the drinking and the affair, reading “My Lucky Life” reminded me why I love Dick Van Dyke. If you love him, too, this is definitely a book for you.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joe Martin

    I've enjoyed Dick Van Dyke ever since I saw Marry Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a child. Later in life, I saw episodes of The Dick Van Dyke show and enjoyed them too. So, when I saw this book pop up in the library, I eagerly snagged it. It was a very easy and engaging read. The book sounds exactly like Dick Van Dyke—as I read, I could easily hear his voice in my head and it sounded exactly like the Dick Van Dyke that I’ve heard in interviews before. The book was the story of his life, I've enjoyed Dick Van Dyke ever since I saw Marry Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a child. Later in life, I saw episodes of The Dick Van Dyke show and enjoyed them too. So, when I saw this book pop up in the library, I eagerly snagged it. It was a very easy and engaging read. The book sounds exactly like Dick Van Dyke—as I read, I could easily hear his voice in my head and it sounded exactly like the Dick Van Dyke that I’ve heard in interviews before. The book was the story of his life, mostly as collected through representative stories and vignettes. There were chapters dealing with The Dick Van Dyke Show (one of the best times of his life), Mary Poppins (a movie he still loves), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (a movie that he resisted making for a long time and a movie that he feels justifies his initial low opinion of the script). Along the way, I learned about Dick Van Dyke the political activist, the sailor, and the Sunday School teacher, and husband. I really enjoyed the glimpse into his “lucky life”, the people he knew, and the times he lived through.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jamison

    dick van dyke had a lot of choices in life. he had to choose between the wife who gave him several children, and a lover who gave him a listening ear, and the support he needed as an actor. he had to choose between being a star, and being a man who could share his films with his family. but, most importantly, van dyke had to choose between himself, and the bottle. unfortunately, this book doesn't really go into the hardships he had with alcoholism. but, he gives credit where it's due . . to the dick van dyke had a lot of choices in life. he had to choose between the wife who gave him several children, and a lover who gave him a listening ear, and the support he needed as an actor. he had to choose between being a star, and being a man who could share his films with his family. but, most importantly, van dyke had to choose between himself, and the bottle. unfortunately, this book doesn't really go into the hardships he had with alcoholism. but, he gives credit where it's due . . to the support of his family, and the women in his life. i liked how he had a good sense of family throughout this book. he realizes it's hard to be related to dick van dyke, and he makes sure to tell about the troubles (and talents) of his brother jerry. i finished this book pretty quickly. it was a bright enough read,entertaining, with a light amount of insight, much like the man it's about.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nathanael Smith

    I loved this book. I grew up watching Dick Van Dyke and enjoying all the entertainment he’s given people over the years, so honestly to read him talk about his life and to find out that he was actually a wonderfully decent person in real life was nice. There are a couple somewhat sad parts about his life, but even those just made him seem like a real human being who has dealt with his problems the best he can, and compared to other hollywood characters he made out fairly well. It was also a I loved this book. I grew up watching Dick Van Dyke and enjoying all the entertainment he’s given people over the years, so honestly to read him talk about his life and to find out that he was actually a wonderfully decent person in real life was nice. There are a couple somewhat sad parts about his life, but even those just made him seem like a real human being who has dealt with his problems the best he can, and compared to other hollywood characters he made out fairly well. It was also a treat to see him talk about life in a time period I love more than any else. There are plenty of great stories in here dealing with various people he’s met over his lifetime, my two favorite probably being Cary Grant and Fred Astaire. Anyways, this was a great book. Read it. Or don’t.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Celebrity memoirs are my guilty pleasure reading lately. I've always been a big fan of Dick Van Dyke, so this was a fun, quick read. Not a literary show stopper by any means, but I enjoyed reading a little bit about the behind the scenes of his tv shows and movies. I'd forgotten how much I loved Diagnosis Murder!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Verona

    I love Dick Van Dyke! And after reading his book, I like him even more. I appreciate his sticking to his goal of working only on projects that are wholesome and family entertainment. He tells his own story in this book, and I felt like he was telling it just to me. It was like he was talking to me and telling me his goals, his dreams, his values. It read like a conversation. He doesn't cover up any of his problems and issues; he tells it like it was. He doesn't sensationalize his getting help I love Dick Van Dyke! And after reading his book, I like him even more. I appreciate his sticking to his goal of working only on projects that are wholesome and family entertainment. He tells his own story in this book, and I felt like he was telling it just to me. It was like he was talking to me and telling me his goals, his dreams, his values. It read like a conversation. He doesn't cover up any of his problems and issues; he tells it like it was. He doesn't sensationalize his getting help with his alcoholism, but just tells about how he felt about wanting to eliminate that problem from his life. The same with smoking; he had to be scared of cancer before he quit for good, but he did it. I appreciated his honesty and forthrightness. I am glad he was a family man who loved his wife and children and put them first in his life. He didn't go to Hollywood parties much, but spent time with his family. Although he and Margie did eventually go their separate ways, it was an amicable split. I did find it sad that he fell in love with someone else while he was still married, and the fact that he and Michelle lived together for many years and never married. She died, and now he's alone, but still works. Comedy and acting are what keeps him going, so he did the Diagnosis Murder series for 10 years while he was in his seventies. It makes me feel lazy; at seventy, I am glad to be retired and doing my own personal projects and playing with grandkids. As I began this review, I love Dick Van Dyke and his humor and talent. I watched every episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and loved his role in Mary Poppins, and really loved the Diagnosis Murder show. I enjoyed reading about his life from his own heart.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kate Woods Walker

    It's an old-school celebrity memoir. As many have already noted in earlier reviews, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business is told in the gosh-golly-gee-whiz voice of a PG-rated narrator who finds everyone and everything very nice. I don't find this to be particularly objectionable. I pick up a book like this one to serve as a mental palate cleanser, and the likeable Mr. Van Dyke, now in his mid-eighties, has earned the right to present himself as a big bowl of orange sherbet if that's what he It's an old-school celebrity memoir. As many have already noted in earlier reviews, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business is told in the gosh-golly-gee-whiz voice of a PG-rated narrator who finds everyone and everything very nice. I don't find this to be particularly objectionable. I pick up a book like this one to serve as a mental palate cleanser, and the likeable Mr. Van Dyke, now in his mid-eighties, has earned the right to present himself as a big bowl of orange sherbet if that's what he wants to do. I was entertained; I was given a nugget or two of showbiz dish I might not otherwise have known. I'm sure I knew somewhere in the back of my mind--from my slavish devotion to Rona Barrett magazines back in the day--that he and Michelle Triola Marvin were a cohabitating item, but I had forgotten. There were other less-blatant hints of the more complicated, darker human being underneath all the niceness. There was cursory mention of his drinking problem. There was less-than-expected praise of certain co-stars. Reviews were quoted, perhaps a bit defensively. Certainly there's no disguising the narcissism of a person who has been in show business for over half a century, but hey, it is an old-school celebrity memoir, after all. I don't care that he leaves the grittier stuff on the cutting room floor. I like him. He's nice.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Troy Blackford

    A very interesting, well-organized look at the man's life. These stories always end up being more interesting than I expect. I like reading them from time to time because a lifetime of achievements and experiences is always something worthwhile. I've read autobiographies of people I knew far less about than Mr. Van Dyke, and I found this one a rewarding experience.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chandni

    I LOVE THIS MAN! :)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    It’s interesting how the lives of all the autobiographies I’ve read during the month of May cross paths with each other. The month started out with Julie Andrews and left me frustrated because she was about to take on the movie role of Mary Poppins and she decided to end the book right then and there. Happily, Dick Van Dyke continued on where Ms. Andrews left off, and I was able to enjoy hearing about the making of the great Walt Disney film. Dick Van Dyke has definitely had an interesting and It’s interesting how the lives of all the autobiographies I’ve read during the month of May cross paths with each other. The month started out with Julie Andrews and left me frustrated because she was about to take on the movie role of Mary Poppins and she decided to end the book right then and there. Happily, Dick Van Dyke continued on where Ms. Andrews left off, and I was able to enjoy hearing about the making of the great Walt Disney film. Dick Van Dyke has definitely had an interesting and lucky life. His start in show business was due to lot of hard work and also being in the right place at the right time. Early comedic television sounds like a great place to be for a budding funnyman/actor. The field was wide open and although Van Dyke doesn’t profess to be good at coming up with material, he is definitely a character actor, and a good one at that. I liked how he decided early on to only take on roles that would be suitable for his whole family to view. I’m positive that led to much of his success. I recall as a young girl watching many films and television shows featuring Dick Van Dyke and it never would have crossed my mind that he could have chosen to portray unseemly characters. Because he always played the good guy, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when he pointed out his human failings. He suffered from alcoholism and his marriage ended when he fell in love with his assistant. I suppose that’s the problem with Hollywood – the parts that are played on screen seldom resemble real life. While Van Dyke pointed out his own flaws, he was gentlemanly enough to refrain from pointing out the flaws of others. He appreciated many he’s worked with and always had nice things to say. There were many good stories here and I’m glad I had this glimpse into his life.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Who doesn’t remember Rob Petrie tripping over the ottoman at the beginning of the Dick Van Dyke show or Bert singing and dancing with penguins? Mr. Van Dyke tells the behind the scenes secrets that led to those iconic television and movie moments and that alone would have been enough to entice me to read this memoir. But this book is so much more. Mr. Van Dyke shares his years as a boy and then young man growing up in the Midwest. He reveals joining the armed forces so that he could fly and how Who doesn’t remember Rob Petrie tripping over the ottoman at the beginning of the Dick Van Dyke show or Bert singing and dancing with penguins? Mr. Van Dyke tells the behind the scenes secrets that led to those iconic television and movie moments and that alone would have been enough to entice me to read this memoir. But this book is so much more. Mr. Van Dyke shares his years as a boy and then young man growing up in the Midwest. He reveals joining the armed forces so that he could fly and how that didn’t quite pan out. His early years starting out in radio and the years of living hand to mouth, sometimes getting evicted because the rent didn’t get paid and how (and why) he persevered. Yet this is not a self-serving “look what I went through” telling of his story. He writes with honesty, as well as his trademark sense of humor, even when the reader senses that the subject matter is painful. Mr. Van Dyke never strayed from his determination to never make a television series or film that he could not enjoy with his children. I think that was the key to his success … everyone could enjoy his talent. Despite his 50+ years of success in show business he still considers himself a simple “song and dance man”. I listened to the audio book, narrated by Mr. Van Dyke himself, and although the book doesn’t need any help in the “interesting” department, it did make it a little more special.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Philip Cosand

    Finally. An autobiography that has something to say. The last few self-scripted tales have been cranked out when people were in their 30's or 40's. What'll they do when they have a few more decades under their belt? With age comes experience and wisdom. Van Dyke is able to gain perspective on past events and give us a summation of 60 years in the entertainment industry and four generations of family tales. As he promises from the beginning, the stories are not overly salacious. That fits with his Finally. An autobiography that has something to say. The last few self-scripted tales have been cranked out when people were in their 30's or 40's. What'll they do when they have a few more decades under their belt? With age comes experience and wisdom. Van Dyke is able to gain perspective on past events and give us a summation of 60 years in the entertainment industry and four generations of family tales. As he promises from the beginning, the stories are not overly salacious. That fits with his family-friendly method of approaching life. Oh sure, there are a few specific comments and the man admits that he had a problem or two. However, one walks away with a sense that he strives to be happy in his life and his work. This is not the jaded memoirs of a cantankerous old crank. This is a man who has loved, been loved, and feels that his life is a blessing. Even so, the book does now suffer from Elwes' problem of, "Everything was great, everyone was great, it's all great". He knows that those around him are human and likes them regardless. Differing lifestyles do not negate Van Dyke's fondness for them. We are given 80+ years of stories from a gifted entertainer who can't stay away from the spotlight too long. In the end you're left wanting more; from the writer and the TV performer.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Creolecat

    This memoir is light and breezy just like the man. Everything is moderately touched upon. I felt his stories were fun and interesting, but there was no depth to the book. It was as if he skimmed the surface of his life, just telling you so much, not really digging deep. There was only a few things I wasn’t aware of: his civil rights activities (with Rod Serling who I did know to be heavily involved in), his support of Eugene McCarthy. Oh, and the fact that Hope Lange had an affair with Sinatra This memoir is light and breezy just like the man. Everything is moderately touched upon. I felt his stories were fun and interesting, but there was no depth to the book. It was as if he skimmed the surface of his life, just telling you so much, not really digging deep. There was only a few things I wasn’t aware of: his civil rights activities (with Rod Serling who I did know to be heavily involved in), his support of Eugene McCarthy. Oh, and the fact that Hope Lange had an affair with Sinatra made me almost lose my lunch and respect for her. His discovery that his son was evidently smoking pot was like a scene out of a film, and if Redd Foxx hadn’t have been high, would he still have been (my assumption) an ass? I adore Dick Van Dyke. He’s a genuinely nice fella, or as my dad says, a good egg. But what’s that saying, behind the smile of every clown is a frown? I only caught a glimpse from this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    The first night reading this caught my interest as it took me through Van Dyke's journey from youth to the Dick Van Dyke Show and Mary Poppins, which brought back memories from my younger days. Oddly enough, when I picked it up the next night to continue it soon lost its charm as it made its way through show business productions that weren't so familiar to me and as it drove down the customary Hollywood pathway of divorce, addiction, politics, etc. Granted, those detours were mild by typical The first night reading this caught my interest as it took me through Van Dyke's journey from youth to the Dick Van Dyke Show and Mary Poppins, which brought back memories from my younger days. Oddly enough, when I picked it up the next night to continue it soon lost its charm as it made its way through show business productions that weren't so familiar to me and as it drove down the customary Hollywood pathway of divorce, addiction, politics, etc. Granted, those detours were mild by typical show biz standards, but they just weren't something I could relate to well. By the time I got to the last fifty pages I found myself repeatedly looking to see how close I was to the end. Both the book and I lost steam as the pages went on.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Callie Rose Tyler

    Actual rating- 3 1/2 Stars Starting off with the positive... the following positive statements were originally written at the end of this review but I realized that the paragraphs preceding them made this book sound absolutely horrible and it isn't. In fact it was a very enjoyable read. So I've moved some of the positive lines to the beginning. I absolutely loved listening to the narration of this audio book, it felt like Dick was sitting next to me. The voice and tone of the book seems very Actual rating- 3 1/2 Stars Starting off with the positive... the following positive statements were originally written at the end of this review but I realized that the paragraphs preceding them made this book sound absolutely horrible and it isn't. In fact it was a very enjoyable read. So I've moved some of the positive lines to the beginning. I absolutely loved listening to the narration of this audio book, it felt like Dick was sitting next to me. The voice and tone of the book seems very genuine. However, I think my rating might have been a lot lower if I had read this book instead of listened to it. The stories of Dick growing up and starting out in show business were fantastically interesting and entertaining. While I would not categorize this book under humor, the voice and anecdotes often made me smile and even laugh. Really there are two aspects to the rating of this book. The first is the construction of the book itself and the second is the story that it tells, which in this case is an actual person's life, this complicates things. Going in to this book I was very excited since Mary Poppins is one of my favorite movies and I grew up loving the Dick Van Dyke Show, God Bless Nick at Nite. Dick Van Dyke was at the top of my heroes list along with Lucille Ball, Elvis Presley, and Andy Griffith (I'm an old soul what can I say) but in listening to this memoir I was slightly disappointed. The biggest thing that bothered me was not so much the mistakes that he made but that he painted them in such a rosy light. And the rant begins It was hard for me to discover that he was cheating on his wife for like 5 years before divorcing her. It was hard for me to listen to him praise this other woman at the beginning and end of the book when, for the bulk of the book, his first wife Margie is there by his side through some really tough times. I can totally understand making a mistake but you need to own up to it and not act like its no big deal to cheat on your wife...FOR 5 YEARS! This leads to a problem I had with other parts of the book. To me, everything seemed very selective, by that I mean Dick seemed to gloss over things that were not favorable to his character while at the same time praising himself as a 'good boy'. At times this memoir came off a little self-serving and lacking an appropriate dose of modesty. My second complaint of the book is that I felt there wasn't enough written about subjects that most people who pick up this book are interested in namely Marry Poppins and the Dick Van Dyke Show. Instead, Dick spent a time talking about things that didn't seem pertinent to his story. For example, when I think of the civil rights movement, I don't think of Dick Van Dyke yet he goes on and on and on about this and other political events and issues....if I wanted a 1960's history lesson I wouldn't turn to Dick Van Dyke, sorry. Overall, this was an interesting read but I would not recommend it to the casual fan. I would also offer a warning that the show that made Dick Van Dyke a household name is not nearly as prominent as one might think it should be. Dick writes in a casual nostalgic tone that made me feel like a kid curled up on my grandfather's lap. Skip the book, listen to the audio version!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Growing up a TV Land watching kid, I have always loved Dick Van Dyke. The Dick Van Dyke Show is a classic that I love to watch even now. It's always funny and wholesome. Naturally, when I saw that my local library had My Luck Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir on audiobook, I decided to give it a listen. Straight off I was happy - the audiobook is read by Dick Van Dyke himself! This added a nice personal touch to his story. This book early on sets any questions at ease - if you are Growing up a TV Land watching kid, I have always loved Dick Van Dyke. The Dick Van Dyke Show is a classic that I love to watch even now. It's always funny and wholesome. Naturally, when I saw that my local library had My Luck Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir on audiobook, I decided to give it a listen. Straight off I was happy - the audiobook is read by Dick Van Dyke himself! This added a nice personal touch to his story. This book early on sets any questions at ease - if you are looking for celebrity gossip and scandal, this is not the book for you. This is just a nice account of Dick's life. He was born in Danville, Illinois and had a few funny stories from even then. Apparently his mother was absent minded ... to the extent that a fully cooked ham ended up in his father's shirt drawer ... and she even left an infant Dick in his crib for hours while she and her husband went to the movies, lol. Clearly this proves that Dick would qualify as "the fittest". Also, Dick grew up with Gene Hackman - he was Dick's friend's annoying younger cousin who they never let hang out with them, lol. And did you know that he didn't always want to be an entertainer? He even contemplated being a minister for a while - weird. Dick goes through his whole life little by little. He married a Danville girl, travelled around from gig to random gig, starts having children. He goes from California to Idaho to Georgia to Louisiana, finally ending up in New York where he starts off on his television climb. None of his jobs stick, but it gets him seen enough to draw the attention of the director of Bye, Bye Birdie. He starred in the original Broadway production. From there he went to The Dick Van Dyke Show. It turns out that Carl Reiner deliberately wrote the show to not include any references in the show that would date it - no political commentary or current events of any kind. This definitely explains why the show is still so loved and pertinent. Dick goes into a lot of detail about the creation of the show and funny anecdotes abound. I really enjoyed this section of the book. Anyone who is familiar with Dick Van Dyke at all will know that he went on to star in Mary Poppins, Bye, Bye Birdie the film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Dick Van Dyke Show (again), Diagnosis Murder, and much more. In the mid-60s, Dick acted in a movie that ended up being more innuendo-filled than he was comfortable with. At that point, he told his agent that he didn't want to be in any other projects that he wouldn't want his kids to watch. He stuck by this commitment to wholesome programming for the rest of his career which still continues today. This is where he really won me over. I respect that he took a stand, and he ended up proving that television and movies don't have to be controversial or filled with sexual puns to be funny. Dick talks about so much more in his book, and if you are at all interested I highly suggest you read it. All of his stories really do affirm his title - seriously this guy is one of the luckiest people I've ever heard of. He concludes with one of the greatest lessons he has learned in his life: "We all need something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for." I couldn't agree more. This book was funny and entertaining, just like the man himself. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Sparrow

    An interesting memoir. He has always cultivated an easy-going persona (and it's true, to some extent) but he has had some rough times, and he's honest about his failings.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kyle McCreary

    Wow, what a great read! I usually don't spend time reading bio/autobiographies of still-living people, but I'm such a long-time fan of Mr. Van Dyke that when I heard about his newly published memoirs, I just had to read it. Believe me, it was not a disappointment. From the first paragraph on, this book was almost as full of laughs as the original The Dick Van Dyke Show series. With the wonder and enjoyment of Mary Poppins thrown in, to boot! As he points out right from the start, there are no Wow, what a great read! I usually don't spend time reading bio/autobiographies of still-living people, but I'm such a long-time fan of Mr. Van Dyke that when I heard about his newly published memoirs, I just had to read it. Believe me, it was not a disappointment. From the first paragraph on, this book was almost as full of laughs as the original The Dick Van Dyke Show series. With the wonder and enjoyment of Mary Poppins thrown in, to boot! As he points out right from the start, there are no scandals here. I must admit I was a little disappointed by the kid-glove handling of the broken family and divorce, but I also realize that I'm a little more sensitive about such things than most in today's culture and he does treat it as a serious topic, just down-played. But there were so many things that I never knew about this great entertainer's life, from the way he first got into "the business" and the things that shaped his life and career to the lengthy struggle he had in overcoming alcoholism. But in spite of the hard times, he really has had (or should I say, made) a charmed life. And he covers it all here in heartwarming candor, from the most scandalous thing that ever happened to him (his birth) all the way up through his plans for this very afternoon. If you have ever enjoyed having high tea on the ceiling with Bert and Uncle Albert, falling over the ottoman with Rob and Mary Petrie, or skating through the halls of Community General Hospital with Dr. Mark Sloan — you will absolutely love My Lucky Life.

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