Sunday, October 02, 2011

Dick Van Dyke Show 50th Anniversary at the Egyptian Theatre

Ivan of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear is hosting what looks to be a grand and glorious blogathon celebrating the 50th anniversary of THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, with an impressive number of participants -- over 30 at last count.

The blogathon festivities kicked off after midnight Eastern time this evening. Visit the main blogathon post which will be updated with links to participating blogs.

I'm excited to be able to contribute a post about the amazing evening my family experienced celebrating the show at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood last night. Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, and writer Garry Marshall were on hand to share their memories in person, with Rose Marie and Larry Mathews among the sold-out audience.

The evening was particularly special for me as the show is one of my earliest TV memories, not to mention the fact that Dick Van Dyke starred in the first movie I ever saw in a theater, MARY POPPINS (1964). When I was a preschooler I loved that the pretty lady on the TV shared my name, and the infamous episode where she stuck her toe in the bathtub faucet, which was Ivan's first memory of the show, is also an early TV memory of mine. Given the original air date, I must have seen it in a rerun.

It was a fantastic evening, something akin to a raucous party, which left me exhausted from all the laughter; my daughter said, "I'm in physical pain from laughing so hard!"

Our evening began with a nice meal at the Pig 'N' Whistle, just off the Egyptian courtyard.

Once inside the theater, I was happy to have author Vince Waldron sign my copy of THE OFFICIAL DICK VAN DYKE SHOW BOOK. I've just started digging into it, but it looks terrific. We'll be shelving it alongside an older book we have on the show.

Before the program began there was a stir when a lady entered in a wheelchair; it was Rose Marie, and the audience spontaneously welcomed her with a standing ovation. My husband went over and shook her hand and said "Thank you!" Her voice hasn't changed a bit.

Carl Reiner introduced the night's episodes, and I found it almost impossible to believe the man is nearing 90. He has the energy of a man half a century younger, and was as funny and interesting as fans might expect. (One of these days I'll get a camera with a better long-distance zoom lens...)


The three episodes selected to screen last evening were "The Life and Love of Joe Coogan," followed by "Very Old Shoes, Very Old Rice," and capping it off with one of the show's best-known episodes, the Emmy-winning "Coast to Coast Big Mouth." These episodes are available online at the IMDb links in this paragraph.

Having seen THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW countless times on TV over the decades, I have to say that there is simply nothing like watching it with an enthusiastic audience! By the time Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) was apologizing to Alan Brady (Reiner) for letting his baldness out of the bag on national TV, suggesting he donate his hairpieces to "needy bald people," I was laughing so hard I cried. And I know I wasn't the only one! (You can read more about "Coast to Coast Big Mouth" in the blogathon post at ClassicBecky's Brain Food.)

The episodes were followed by a clip from "October Eve," with Reiner in non-Alan Brady mode, playing crazy painter Sergei Carpetna.

It was especially nice that guest stars Michael Forest, who played the title role in "The Life and Love of Joe Coogan," and Dick Curtis, who played slimy TV host Johnny Patrick in "Coast to Coast Big Mouth," were on hand in the audience last night. They each stood up and waved to the audience.

Reiner, Van Dyke, and Marshall took the stage after the episodes for some lighthearted reminiscing about the show. In the photos below, Marshall is on the left, Van Dyke in the center, and Reiner on the right, partially blocked by the unfortunate placement of a light for videotaping purposes.

There was a lot of kidding around and general silliness, mixed in with some discussion of the origins of the show, getting it off the ground, and how the show was cast.


Reiner shared that as soon as he heard Mary Tyler Moore's voice he knew he'd found the right leading lady, after an extensive but previously fruitless search. I was struck all over again last night by just how funny she was and what perfect timing she had.


One of the interesting anecdotes Reiner shared was that the network wasn't enthused about a show set in an office of TV writers. They suggested an insurance office. Reiner said that when they showed TV writers at work, they'd be telling jokes, but insurance company employees would be discussing numbers, and "Numbers aren't funny!"

Another highlight was Dick Van Dyke's backup group, Vantastix, joining him to sing the lyrics to the show's theme music, which were written by Morey Amsterdam.


It was a wonderful evening celebrating one of TV's all-time great shows...and now I'm going to go watch "Laura's Little Lie," the episode which preceded "Very Old Shoes, Very Old Rice." I don't remember that episode very well and have to see again how it was that Rob found out that Laura was underage when they got married!

8 Comments:

Blogger Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I've said this before, and I'll try not to say it through clenched teeth: I would have given my left earlobe to have been able to attend this.

But I am ecstatic that you were able to be there (no, that's not a voodoo doll behind my back...it's something for my niece) and report on all that happened. All joking aside, from your description it sounds like an incredible way to spend an evening, and I'm glad you took copious notes to describe what other Dick Van Dyke Show fans missed out on.

Thanks so much from the bottom of my sloppy, sentimental heart for contributing to the blogathon, Laura...your participation was the cherry on top of the sundae!

8:01 AM  
Blogger Raquelle said...

Wow! What a wonderful experience that must have been! Oh and Garry Marshall. I would have loved to hear him talk.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

8:35 AM  
Blogger Jacqueline T Lynch said...

I'm with Ivan. I would have given his left earlobe to have been able to attend this.

Thank you so much for sharing the experience.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I hope you have some idea of how much your sharing with the evening with us means. I was relating your experience to my husband, and he got choked up. He's the one that named our cats Buddy and Sally.

Pretty much sums up the family: our challenged son (autism/developmental delay) used to think that all the blank tapes at Blockbuster had "The Dick Van Dyke Show" on them.

Thanks again.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I wish each and every one of you could have been there! It was so special, after a lifetime of loving the show and then having all my kids become fans via DVD. (The extra-filled DVD releases are superb -- highly recommended.) It was an amazing thing to have so many of the people involved in the show present a half century later. I'm very grateful I was able to get tickets -- I bought them within a half hour or so of hearing about the evening, because I was pretty sure it would sell out, and indeed it did!

Ann Morgan Guilbert was said to be under the weather, but her daughter and grandchildren were there in the audience, by the way, along with a host of other people with connections to the show.

Caftan Woman, your note in particular made *me* choke up. It means a great deal to know that others have vicariously enjoyed hearing about the evening. I absolutely love that your husband named your cats Buddy and Sally!

Best wishes,
Laura

12:41 PM  
Blogger MC said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Laura. What a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime event! The Dick Van Dyke Show is my favorite sitcom ever. It's still as fresh and funny as it ever was -- I never get tired of watching it. :)

MC

11:06 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Thanks for sharing Laura! I SOOOO wish I could have been there. Have always loved, loved, loved the Dick Van Dyke Show. I remember watching it on WGN at 1:00 PM on weekdays. I even remember complaining once to my mother that the Cubs bumped the Show off the air most summer days and during the rest of the year I was in school! So annoying! LOL. Sick days always included watching Dick Van Dyke and crew. I have the DVDs and love them.

Thanks again,

Missy http://www.missyisms.com or Missyisms on Twitter

8:32 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

MC and Missy, so glad you enjoyed the post!

Missy, like you, my sick days always included the DICK VAN DYKE SHOW (and BEWITCHED!). (Side note: I can remember being frustrated when I was very young because the shows' daytime reruns were being continually preempted by the Watergate hearings...)

Best wishes,
Laura

8:34 PM  

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