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Dick Van Dyke Talks ‘98 Years of Magic’ Special and Reflects on His Career

All you need to know about the star-studded birthday bash premiering Thursday, December 21st on CBS!

CBS is celebrating Dick Van Dyke’s career with an epic 98th birthday bash that left the Emmy, Grammy and Tony-winner speechless — and now, you’re invited to the party! The beloved funnyman who was catapulted to stardom alongside TV wife Mary Tyler Moore in the ‘60s previews what viewers can expect from the upcoming Dick Van Dyke birthday special, Dick Van Dyke: 98 Years of Magic.

Dick Van Dyke Birthday Special: How to Watch Dick Van Dyke: 98 Years of Magic

With more than 40 stars in attendance (see full list of party-goers and performances below!) and Van Dyke’s wife Arlene Silver by his side, the two-hour tribute travels back in time to the iconic set of The Dick Van Dyke Show and includes footage and performances from favorites like Mary Poppins, Bye Bye Birdie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and more. Here’s everything you need to know about Dick Van Dyke: 98 Years of Magic.

Related: ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’: Inside Secrets on the Series and Cast

Van Dyke Says 98 Years of Magic Special Surprised Him

When CBS invited Dick Van Dyke to a celebration of his epic career in TV, film and Broadway, he had no idea it would be packed with dazzling music and dance spectacles, heartfelt performances, and even a festive holiday number.

Dick Van Dyke Birthday Special: Van Dyke Says 98 Years of Magic Special Surprised Him
Dick Van Dyke (2023) Monty Brinton/CBS

“It means everything at my age,” Van Dyke says of the honor. “But what I expected was sitting down and reminiscing and answering a few questions. This Broadway production has just blown me away. This is something I’ll never forget. I can’t believe it. Dancing and singing, the whole thing.

“I’m just stunned,” he adds. “Out of my mind. I really am speechless. I can’t tell you how it feels.”

Van Dyke was likely expecting a special more along the lines of his episode of This Is Your Life – which was a 1987 retrospective featuring interviews with Moore, Chita Rivera, Rose Marie, and Carl Reiner. Needless to say, CBS’ Dick Van Dyke: 98 Years of Magic will somehow fit in an additional 35 years of fun!

Dick Van Dyke Looks Back at His Epic Career

Like many young performers today, Richard “Dick” Van Dyke started out working nightclubs and, he says, “I was happy to have the job.” The Missouri-born Midwesterner had high hopes and caught some eyes when he competed on the TV talent show Chance of a Lifetime in 1954 – but Van Dyke never imagined he’d receive a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2013, Kennedy Center Honors in 2021, or a 98th birthday party hosted by CBS!

Dick Van Dyke Looks Back at His Epic Career
“The Dick Van Dyke Show” Calvada Productions

In fact, even after CBS first signed him in the ‘50s, his future did not look half this bright. 

“I wish I’d known,” Van Dyke cracks. “I would have been a lot happier. CBS put me under contract in, I think, 1955, but they didn’t know what to do with me. They had me doing game shows and things like that. So they finally let me go… reluctantly.”

Undeterred, Van Dyke continued to make his name in radio and live theater, while landing roles on The Phil Silvers Show, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, and The Polly Bergen Show.

Van Dyke’s career began to take off in his mid-30s when he originated the role of Albert Peterson in Broadway’s Bye Bye Birdie. It was after he took home the 1961 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor Musical for that role that Carl Reiner called him back to CBS for a little comedy called The Dick Van Dyke Show.

“I came back to work for them, and I’ve worked for them ever since,” Van Dyke says of CBS. “That’s funny, but true.”

While the black and white sitcom bared his name, Van Dyke’s career-changing TV character was Rob Petrie – the devoted husband and father to Mary Tyler Moore’s Laurie and Larry Mathews’ Ritchie and the ever-charming headwriter for a fictional comedy/variety series that was led Reiner character, Alan Brady. Giving viewers a peek at how TV was made, the comedy aired from 1961 to 1966, earning 15 Emmy Awards along the way. Three of those Emmys went to Van Dyke, who would earn his fourth Emmy for the short-lived 1976 sketch comedy series, Van Dyke and Company.

“Mary Poppins”
Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in “Mary Poppins” Walt Disney Pictures

Even as The Dick Van Dyke Show captured America’s heart, the Tony-winning nice-guy started making movie musicals like 1963’s Bye Bye Birdie, 1964’s Mary Poppins, and later, 1968’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Considering how many kids today still sing the words to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Spoonful of Sugar,” it’s no surprise Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, and the Mary Poppins cast won Grammy Awards for the beloved soundtrack.

Dick Van Dyke Birthday Special: Zachary Levi performs at the CBS Original Special
Zachary Levi performs at the CBS Original Special “Dick Van Dyke 98 Years of Magic” Dick Van Dyke birthday specialMonty Brinton/CBS

Before launching The New Dick Van Dyke Show in the ‘70s, Van Dyke and Reiner reunited for 1969’s big-screen comedy-drama The Comic. Van Dyke had fun on hits like Columbo and The Carol Burnett Show and took the lead again for Diagnosis: Murder from 1993–2001 and Murder 101 from 2006–08. He also appeared on the big screen in Dick Tracy, Curious George, the Night at the Museum franchise, Mary Poppins Returns, and many more movies.

Episode of The Simpsons
Dick Van Dyke in “The Simpsons” 20th Television

Since his start, this man of song, dance, and laughter has remained relevant, with more credits than we can cover here. In 2023 alone, Van Dyke was Simpson’ized for his animated appearance on The Simpsons episode “McMansion & Wife” and also returned to his reality TV roots to compete on The Masked Singer season 9 as the Gnome.

Never one to slow down, Van Dyke also added a whole new genre to his repertoire this year when he joined the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives as a mystery man who turned out to be John Black’s long-lost father.

Related: Dick Van Dyke Movies and TV Shows: The Legendary Entertainer’s Most Lovable Roles

How to Watch Dick Van Dyke: 98 Years of Magic

With a career that has spanned most every medium and genre, Dick Van Dyke has inspired generations of performers — and this week, he is thrilled to be honored for his decades in the arts and entertainment.

Dick Van Dyke Birthday Special: How to Watch Dick Van Dyke: 98 Years of Magic
Dick Van Dyke talks about his career and 98 years of magic, Dick Van Dyke birthday special Courtesy of Laura Johansen

“I’ve had such a great life,” says Van Dyke – but with his 98 Years of Magic celebration recorded just a few days before his actual December 13 birthday, the icon of TV, film and Broadway insists, “I’m still a kid.”

Dick Van Dyke: 98 Years of Magic promises conversations with Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Tony Danza, Rob Reiner, Harry Shum Jr., Jane Seymour, Brad Garrett, Cedric the Entertainer, Roma Downey, Julie Andrews, Judd Apatow, David Archuleta, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, Jim Carrey, Stephen Colbert, David Copperfield, Darren Criss, Roma Downey, Mark Hamill, Tony Hawk, Derek Hough, Ken Jeong, John Lithgow, Jenny McCarthy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Penn + Teller, Craig Robinson, William Shatner, Martin Short, Harry Shum Jr., and Stanley Tucci.

With performances by:

Jason Alexander performs “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Let’s Go Fly A Kite”
Zachary Levi performs “Jolly Holliday”
Skylar Astin, and Amanda Kloots perform “Put On A Happy Face”
Amber Riley performs “Chim Chim Cheree”
Rita Ora performs “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”
Beth Behrs, and Tichina Arnold perform “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
JoJo Siwa performs “Step In Time”
Weird Al, performs “The Dick Van Dyke” theme song
Rufus Wainwright performs “Hushabye Mountain”

Don’t miss the Dick Van Dyke birthday special premiere Thursday, December 21 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on CBS, and stream it on Paramount+.

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