Me-TV 50.2 Spotlight: "The Dick Van Dyke" Trivia

By Terri Overby

Johnny Carson was a runner-up for the role of Rob Petrie.

The running gag about Alan Brady's toupee was based on Max Liebman, the producer of Your Show of Shows, who also wore a toupee.

The show's production company was called Calvada Productions. The name came from the names of all of the key persons involved in production: Carl Reiner, Sheldon Leonard, Dick Van Dyke and Danny Thomas. In one program, co-producer, Leonard played a character called "Big Max Calvada".

"Head of the Family", the original pilot which starred series creator Carl Reiner.

CBS cancelled the show after one season, then renewed it. When the show finally did go off the air, it was because the cast and producers wanted to quit while they were still proud of it. In addition, Carl Reiner said at the very beginning that the show would not run for more than five years.

The show's pilot was created by Carl Reiner, and was highly autobiographical. CBS executives decided that the main character was too Jewish, too intellectual and too New York and cast Dick Van Dyke instead of Reiner.

For the first few years of the show, Alan Brady's face was never shown but his voice was heard, because Carl Reiner wanted to get a big star to play Alan. Reiner eventually decided to take on the role himself as the egotistical star.

A small controversy occurred because of Mary Tyler Moore wearing Capri pants on the show. Up until the show's premiere most housewives were seen in dresses, but Moore's explanation was that most of the housewives she knew wore pants. Because of Moore, Capri pants became a huge fashion craze in the early 1960s.

The series originally was to focus on Rob at the office with Sally Rogers as the lead female character and Laura as a minor one. The character of Laura became so popular that Mary Tyler Moore became the lead female character and more of the focus of the show shifted to the relationship between Rob and Laura. Many times, situations at the office were still focused on Rob and Laura. This put a strain on the relationship between Rose Marie and Mary Tyler Moore, and while the two ladies got along well, they never became close friends.

Reportedly Mary Tyler Moore told the producers she was older than she really was in order to get the role of Laura. This fact was later incorporated in the episode in which Rob and Laura have to get remarried because Laura had lied about her age, telling Rob she was 19 when she really was only 17.

Dick Van Dyke initially objected to having Mary Tyler Moore on the series, because he felt that she was too young to convincingly play his wife. He changed his mind once their remarkable onscreen chemistry became apparent.

Although "My Blonde-Haired Brunette" (when Laura dyes her hair blonde) was the ninth episode filmed during the first season, it was the second episode to be aired. Carl Reiner was so impressed with Mary Tyler Moore's rapid development that he wanted to showcase her in an episode as soon as possible.

Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore played a married couple so convincingly on the show that many viewers actually thought they were married in real life. They did in fact become very close - "like brother and sister", as Van Dyke said - and both admit they had crushes on each other while the show was in production. They have remained close friends ever since.

Another episode filmed without a live audience was The Dick Van Dyke Show: Happy Birthday and Too Many More. In the middle of rehearsals, the cast and crew got the news that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The cast then decided to go ahead and film the episode, but without a studio audience present. The feeling was that no one would be in the mood to laugh at such a somber time.

Rose Marie recommended Morey Amsterdam for the part of Buddy Sorrell as soon as she had signed on Rto play Sally Rogers.

The famous theme song actually has lyrics, which were written by co-star Morey Amsterdam, though they were never used.

Carl Reiner would often ask cast and crew members about funny things that had happened to them, then he would write whole episodes about these occurrences. As a result, many of the episodes over the course of the show's five-year run were based on actual events.

When CBS canceled the show after one season, Sheldon Leonard traveled to Procter & Gamble's main headquarters in Cincinnati to make a personal plea for sponsorship, hoping it would sway CBS toward renewal. Procter & Gamble agreed to sponsor half a season. Eventually, Lorillard Tobacco Company, makers of Kent Cigarettes, agreed to pick up the other half, and the show was picked up by CBS for a second season. Ironically, when the show went off the air on its own five years later, CBS was doing the pleading for the show to continue.

Carl Reiner seriously considered filming the show in color as early as the third season, but due to the resulting higher production cost, it didn't happen.

Filming of the first episode started on Friday, January 20th, 1961, the same day that John F. Kennedy was sworn in as the 35th President of the United States.

Dick Van Dyke took a big chance agreeing to do this show because in order to do it, he had to leave the Broadway hit show "Bye Bye Birdie" for which he won a Tony Award. If the show was not a hit, he would have been out of work.

According to Morey Amsterdam, the show was scheduled to return for the 1966-1967 season and was going to be seen in color for the first time. However, the plan was scrapped when Dick Van Dyke decided he had enough. This contradicts Carl Reiner, who is on record as saying the decision to end the series was his alone. In any event, Reiner made it clear that he would not be returning as producer after the fifth season, and the consensus opinion was that it would have been impossible to do the show without him.

In the series, Dick Van Dyke's brother Jerry Van Dyke played his brother "Stacey". Stacey was in fact the name of Dick's daughter, so this was undoubtedly done at his request.

During Richard Deacon's first season as Mel Cooley, he was also finishing up the last season as Fred Rutherford on Leave It to Beaver.

Bill Cosby was asked to perform for the cast and crew based on the recommendation of Carl Reiner's young son, Rob Reiner. Sheldon Leonard was so impressed that he cast Cosby in “I Spy”.

Voted #13 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

According to Dick Van Dyke, viewers used to make bets during the opening credits on whether or not Rob would trip over the Ottoman.

Laura Petrie gives their address as 148 Bonnie Meadow Road.

Sally Rogers was the first woman on an American television show to portray a solely independent woman. Before that, women were mostly cast as housewives.

"The Dick Van Dyke Show" was the last show to have its entire run filmed in black and white. After 1966, all shows were filmed in color.

In the first few episodes, Mary Tyler Moore's character was often called " Laurie" instead of "Laura", even by Rob. No explanation has ever been given for this slip-up.


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