Dick Van Dyke Still Dancing at 96!

Beloved com­ic actress Bet­ty White left some big shoes to fill last New Year’s Eve when she shocked the world by dying at the ten­der age of 99.

Who could pos­si­bly match her zest for life so many years into it?

Pag­ing Dick Van Dyke

The nim­ble-foot­ed 96-year-old has yet to host Sat­ur­day Night Live, but remains cul­tur­al­ly rel­e­vant nonethe­less, thanks to the endur­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of his ear­ly work.

His ear­ly 60s sit­com, The Dick Van Dyke Show, was a sta­ple of ‘90s-era Nick at Nite.

Even Gen­er­a­tion Alpha knows who he is, thanks to his ever­green turn as Bert, the danc­ing chim­neysweep in Mary Pop­pins (1964).

The phys­i­cal grace he brought to such musi­cal fare as Bye Bye Birdie and Chit­ty Chit­ty Bang Bang is some­thing he delib­er­ate­ly strived for as a fan of silent com­e­dy’s greats, and at 96, it’s not some­thing he takes for grant­ed. He began strength train­ing many decades ago, after observ­ing Broad­way dancers’ work outs, and main­tains a dai­ly reg­i­men of crunch­es, leg lifts, and hip open­ers.

Like White, he thrives in the com­pa­ny of younger peo­ple.

He’s by far the old­est mem­ber of The Van­tastix, a bar­ber­shop quar­tet he formed in 2020.

And for those keep­ing score, he’s 46 years old­er than his bride of ten years, Arlene Sil­ver, who sings and dances with him in the above video (and directs, too.)

Yes, Van Dyke’s shoul­ders and tor­so may have stiff­ened a bit in the four years since Mary Pop­pins Returns  found him hop­ping atop a desk for a sprite­ly soft shoe, but the ease with which he pro­pels him­self from a low slung wing­back chair at the one-minute mark will strike many view­ers as noth­ing short of mirac­u­lous.

(For those admir­ing the decor, Fall­en Fruit’s recent SUPERSHOW instal­la­tion pro­vid­ed the video’s younger-than-spring­time set.)

Van Dyke’s loose limbed appeal is accom­pa­nied by a refresh­ing­ly flex­i­ble atti­tude, anoth­er way in which he mod­els health aging.

A year into his mar­riage to Sil­ver, he told Parade that they’re so well suit­ed because “she’s very mature for her age, and I’m very imma­ture for my age.”

“Imma­ture in a good way, Sil­ver clar­i­fied to Huff­Post, “with the won­der of a child”:

He’s just fun, he’s open mind­ed. He’s not stuck in his ways at all.

We take very good care of each oth­er. But, I’m very aware that I have a nation­al trea­sure on my hands.

No won­der peo­ple love him. As proof, wit­ness the twen­ty-some­thing leap­ing to their feet to give him an ova­tion, as he makes his entrance in Disneyland’s 60th-anniver­sary spe­cial six years ago.

12 sec­onds lat­er, the 90-year-old Van Dyke was also leap­ing.

“When peo­ple tell you you look good in your 90s, what they mean is you don’t look dead,” Van Dyke con­fid­ed in the late Carl Rein­er’s 2017 doc­u­men­tary, If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Break­fast:

At 30, I exer­cised to look good. In my 50s, I exer­cised to stay fit. In my 70s, to stay ambu­la­to­ry. In my 80s, to avoid assist­ed liv­ing. Now, in my 90s, I’m just doing it out of pure defi­ance.

via Boing­Bo­ing

Relat­ed Con­tent 

The Pow­er of Pulp Fiction’s Dance Scene, Explained by Chore­o­g­ra­phers and Even John Tra­vol­ta Him­self

One of the Great­est Dances Sequences Ever Cap­tured on Film Gets Restored in Col­or by AI: Watch the Clas­sic Scene from Stormy Weath­er

The Icon­ic Dance Scene from Hel­lza­pop­pin’ Pre­sent­ed in Liv­ing Col­or with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence (1941)

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.


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Comments (15)
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  • Joan Marie Barrett says:

    He’s def­i­nite­ly an inspi­ra­tion to me and I’m sure to many oth­ers as well!

  • Cheryl courson says:

    Such an inspi­ra­tion to us all. He makes you smile and laugh always. Keep danc­ing.

  • Chasity Rounds says:

    He is my favorite actor and has been since I was a lit­tle girl. He has inspired me to help peo­ple laugh. He is awe­some.

  • Donna Paul says:

    A true inspi­ra­tion to all of us. I have watched your movies and am cur­rent­ly record­ing all of the episodes of one of my favorite shows, “Diag­no­sis Mur­der.” Keep singing and danc­ing Mr. Van Dyke. You are and will always be a true star.

  • Brenda K Tucker says:

    You are a great inspi­ra­tion to us all. I have been fol­low­ing your career since the 60’s with the Dick Van Dyke show. I love all your Dis­ney movies. But, I must admit Diag­no­sis Mur­der is my favorite. God bless you always. Your fan

  • Rebecca Angus says:

    I laugh & tell the kids
    Y’all want to know who the original”drooper”was?
    (They call it sag­ging)
    Dick Van Dyke doing his pen­guin dance in Mary Pop­pins!
    A true trea­sure in Amer­i­ca!

  • Sean says:

    I just want­ed to see how many times the word “inspi­ra­tion” was used in the com­ments lol

  • Kit Allard says:

    I remem­ber in the ear­ly 60s going to a Pres­by­ter­ian Youth Con­fer­ence in San Fran­cis­co. Mr Van Dyke was guest speak­er. He inspired me then and many times after that. Tru­ly a kind lov­ing man.

  • Mr. Nickolas John Krznarich says:

    I have real­ized the Final Ide­ol­o­gy of Eter­nal Good­ness which I call My High Pow­er. I would like to con­vey what My High Pow­er is to all that wish to hear so. If you feel that you can con­nect me to those desir­ing to know, please feel free to give me an email mes­sage. Thank you.

  • Robert Baca says:

    Look at the respons­es writ­ten about him! He’s touched so many lives and will nev­er know to the degree what an impact he’s made on this world as it’s impos­si­ble to do so.

    Now, as for me…well…he was the per­son and the singer I would go to as a child when uncer­tain or scared or just down right thrilled as well. Pre­tend­ing to be Burt draw­ings on the side­walk or a genius crack pot inven­tor in Chit­ty; his impact on me was a child still envelops my soul with hap­pi­ness. Even to this day, as I work for Dis­ney now.…you will always find­ing me whistling his tunes he sang in Mary Pop­pins as he him­self was spe­cial. Not every actor can show through the fake make believe char­ac­ter that they play but he does. His essence and spir­it over­shad­ow the scripts or char­ac­ters he plays because he’s gen­uine. He’s a great actor of his essence of who he is brings life to those films in ways hard­ly any­body can do. Once in a life­time indi­vid­ual

  • Sally Murphy says:

    Dick VanDyke, you are a most loved and best tal­ent­ed actor, dancer and come­di­an. You will always be my favorite!!! Keep danc­ing!!❤️

  • Barbara M Johnson says:

    Dick VanDyke, you are an inspi­ra­tion to us all. An amaz­ing and tal­ent­ed actor, You are my favorite actor and come­di­an. Keep danc­ing!!!

    With Love ❤
    Huge fan

  • Octavia says:

    What an inspi­ra­tion to see Dick Van Dyke still danc­ing at 96. If you can still move it use it. That’s my mot­to. I love it! Keep it mov­ing. That’s the key!

  • Louise says:

    We just heard the news that our favorite actor Dick Van Dyke died in March May God bless him and keep him danc­ing in heav­en, he was a good man and a clean actor no dirty jokes no dirty words not like today with these sick per­form­ers, we lost a great trea­sure this year May his soul rest in peace

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