My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke

“…something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

TitleMy Lucky Life In and out of Show Business
Author: Dick Van Dyke
Genre: autobiography/memoir
ISBN: 9780307592231
Length: 273 pages
Published: 2011
Source: public library
Rating: 4/5
Resolutions/Challenges: Memoir/Biography Resolution 2011

Reason for Reading: I had one more spot open for my Memoir/Biography resolution, so I picked this one for a couple reasons. 1) I recently saw it on a New Release shelf and 2) when I saw it there, I thought maybe I’d like to read his memoir because I enjoyed Julie Andrews (Edwards)–and they were Mary and Bert haha

Summary (from book jacket):

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 DykeShow (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 Poppinsand 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.

My Thoughts: I didn’t particularly enjoy the style of writing Van Dyke used. I can’t put my fingers on the problem, but I think it probably had something to do with cramming 85 years of a busy life into 270 pages. I felt rushed much of the time. Then again, at the same time, I would not have liked a 500-page memoir either. I think if I hadn’t read Andrews’ memoir and enjoyed the way it read like a work of fiction I might have liked this one more–Andrews, as an author of fiction, wrote hers so well.

And oh, boy did I find out some interesting stuff. Firstly, and I believe I mentioned this before in my previous TSS post, that Van Dyke did his pilot’s training for the Air Force in Toledo, which is the closest “big city” to where I live and grew up. I LOVED that! But there were other, bigger issues, which I was shocked at, to say the least. (I don’t think you can really spoil memoirs so I’ll talk about them with no reservations.) For the majority of Van Dyke’s adult life, he was an alcoholic–something he didn’t really realize until he was about 50. (He also smoked like a chimney, but that didn’t exactly surprise me–so many of that generation, famous or otherwise, were hooked on cigarettes.) Lastly, Van Dyke even had a mistress! It may have been his spin on the truth, but he almost made me feel like it was okay. His “other” relationship only went intimate after he had told his wife and she, in whatever terms, was “okay” with it–meaning, they didn’t divorce (right away), she just let him live his second life.

I think this will have an impact on me the next time I watch Mary Poppins or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Well, I would have felt differently watching CCBB anyway because he revealed that he didn’t like shooting that movie–he didn’t like the story or the direction he worked with. That makes me sad.

I just have to copy this because I really liked the ending to the memoir. I think it’d be hard to end a memoir, because the author is obviously not yet done with his life. It’s just so “normal life”-ish

As you may have guessed, there is no end to this story–not yet, anyway. So instead of a tidy conclusion, I will let you in on my plans. Right now I am going to take my wirehaired terrier, Rocky (he wanted to see his name in the book), for a walk. Later I have rehearsals at an LA-area high school where I perform with the kids each year at a find-raiser. They seem to like it, but not half as much as I do. Coming up are meetings for my one-man show. And then, who knows.

As always, I will see where the wind takes me.

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