Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, in an especially fraternal mood today since we are returning to a favorite subject, movie star brothers on the big screen.
You know, George Sanders and Tom Conway, James Arness and Peter Graves, Lawrence Tierney and Scott Brady, Dana Andrews and Steve Forrest, et al. Yup, despite their differing surnames, they were brothers.
Today’s couple, if that’s the right term, share the same last name. More than that, they generate interest today because their performances were so physically similar. To see the younger onscreen reminds you instantly of the older. That, we think, distinguishes this set of siblings.
Ok, let’s get to who is who.
Older brother (by six years) Dick Van Dyke is, of course, the far better known especially for his energetic movie performances in 1963’s Bye-By Birdie, the musical that established his stardom; the 1964 Walt Disney classic Mary Poppins (his fake semi-cockney accent is still cherished by U.K. audiences); and 1968’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Then there are many television performances in his own series and as a guest on others.
Tall from an early age (he was 6-foot-1 before his 10th birthday), Dick’s high-energy performance style includes rubbery facial expressions delivered in almost classic French mime tradition. On the personal side, Dick has been married twice, lived for a long time with Michelle Triola (who once filed a palimony suit against Lee Marvin), fought alcoholism in the 1970’s and has retired from show business — several times. He will be 88 in December.
Jerry Van Dyke’s movie career is comparatively limited, about a handful of titles, but his tv career is extensive running from Judy Garland’s tube series in 1963, through brother Dick’s various tv series, to The Drew Carey Show in 1997, and (inevitably) The Love Boat and Fantasy Island in the Eighties. In the mid-Sixties, Jerry was the star of an especially forgettable series with a great title, My Mother The Car.
Frank caught up with Jerry recently in the 1963 Warner Bros. film, Palm Springs Weekend, a Troy Donahue vehicle about collegians whooping it up at the California resort on spring break. The dreadful movie generates interest when Jerry is onscreen — a full 32 years old at the time this picture was made — playing a goofy collegian.
He delivers his hokey comedy lines with relish, plays a banjo with gusto, and generally supports a not terribly gifted cast including Connie Stevens, Stefanie Powers, Jack Weston and Robert Conrad. But what is immediately striking is Jerry’s physical and stylistic resemblance to brother Dick.
Jerry is shorter, and a tad less manic but the the similarities are inescapable. And that, as a certain someone says, is a good thing.
The brothers (from Danville, Illinois, along with the others in the picture above) have gotten along all these years pretty well. In 2012, they collaborated on a short tv movie, Fun With Dick and Jerry Van Dyke. In our book, it would be fun to see.
By the way, that’s Jerry second from the right in the above photo. Brother Dick is sitting next to him third from left.
Question — can you identify the three other famous personalities pictured here? Hint: two are movie actors, one was primarily known as a cabaret entertainer.