Those who don’t view him as a suitable subject should tell that to the folks at Walt Disney still, minting substantial sums from Mary Poppins in all its current formats. Frank recently sat down with his granddaughter to watch the DVD version of this half-century-old movie, and found it to be as a fresh now as it was then — the true definition of a classic.
Ok, back to our Dick Van Dyke Quiz. The questions can be found by scrolling down to yesterday’s blog. Today’s answers follow. Both were inspired by Van Dyke’s 2011 memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business.
1) Answer: d) Walter Cronkite. Six months after Van Dyke joined the CBS Morning Show, Cronkite was shifted out of his existing spot on the program to focus on his evening newscasts and his own show, You Are There. He thought Van Dyke had somehow fired him. Walter, I can’t fire anybody. I’m lucky to have this job myself, explained Van Dyke.
2) Answer: a) and c). The woman they shared was Michelle Triola, the former night club singer who famously sued Lee Marvin for “palimony” in the mid-Seventies, and who was Van Dyke’s significant other for three decades until her death in 2009. Triola and Marvin were together six years.
3) Answer: We admit it. This was a trick question so you’ll get a free point. During the making of the 1965 comedy, The Art of Love, which costars Van Dyke, James Garner, Angie Dickinson and Elke Sommer, European tabloids ran with a story that Van Dyke and Dickinson were having an affair, and that he had had a fight with Garner over her affections. The story was untrue and Van Dyke was furious at its publication.
4) Answer: b) False, absolutely. I had the perfect partner in Julie Andrews, wrote Van Dyke. He praised his Mary Poppins costar for her agreeable disposition, her humor and her “perfect pitch” as a singer.
5) Answer: b) Van Dyke was less than enthusiastic about the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang script. His reservations dissolved when he was offered “more than seven figures…plus a percentage of the back end, which I never counted on.” Julie Andrews declined the movie offer; Sally Anne Howes was Van Dyke’s costar.
6) Answer: c) Van Dyke’s decision to pay his lover, Michelle Triola, the $104,000 she felt she was due as a result of her “palimony” lawsuit against Lee Marvin. The California State of Appeals Court had overturned the judgement for the financial reward. Michelle saw the only victory she had won taken away from her. I felt terrible and gave her the money, wrote Van Dyke, who added that this was “the last straw” that ended his first marriage to Margie Willett.
7) Answer: b) and d). During the making in the early 80’s of a cable tv version of The Country Girl, Van Dyke’s costar Faye Dunaway, a last minute cast addition, objected to the presence of Michelle Triola on the set and forced a scene reshoot despite the actor’s view that he had put in a terrific performance. Had he known in advance of Dunaway’s casting, I would not have done the picture, wrote Van Dyke.
8) Answer: b) False. Mary Poppins costar Julie Andrews balked at performing the scheduled ballad, something called The Eyes of Love. She asked Walt Disney to substitute another number, and A Spoonful of Sugar came back as the replacement. It was, remembers Van Dyke, one of the all-time great fixes.
9) Answer: b) False. Van Dyke is human, after all.
10) Answer: Stan Laurel. Van Dyke’s memoir begins with a quote from Laurel and Hardy’s 1938 movie, Block-Heads. Stan: You remember how dumb I used to be? Oliver: Yeah? Stan: Well, I’m better now.