Biographical Poetry posted December 31, 2023

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Dick Van Dyke

by Debbie D'Arcy

His famous face will make you smile,
a star of screen and stage.
The Comic Touch and looks beguile,
a showman of his age.
Though minist'ry was once his cry,
he'd sing a fond Bye, Bye
(this) Birdie yearned to reach the sky,
to spread his wings and fly.
Enlistment in the milit'ry,
would prove too great a climb.
With flying service not to be,
this marked his Step in Time.
For entertaining troops on air
would set his path just right -
an option for this man with flair-
Let's Go (and) Fly a Kite.*
His easy tone, engaging wit 
had caught the public ear.
On TV too he scored a hit,
his Laurel* style so dear.
The Girls Against the Boys would see
his debut Broadway role.
With music in his soul he'd be
en route to share his goal.
Then in his Van Dyke Show he'd soar
with Mary Tyler Moore.
This sitcom pair would charm for sure
with dance, romance galore.
The sixties surge would see fame heap
more glory mid the whinge-
his Mary Poppins' chimneysweep
would make the British cringe!
But, though his gloss seemed ever bright,
he hid a secret shame.
The Morning After shone a light
on drink, a hapless game.
He mastered this through steel and grit,
resolved to thrive, go far
in Murder myst'ries, cartoon strip*,
and Chitty's flying car.
This Music Man has married twice
with children counting four.
He shares with kin his wise advice
in roles they too explore.
In showbiz terms he's been astute
and sought his path and pace;
avoided too much bitter fruit,
Put on a Happy Face.
Still going strong at ninety eight,
an  icon and a beau.
His comedy will ne'er abate
for What a Way to Go!


Many thanks to my dear friend, John ( JMDG1954 ) for his suggestion of this subject. I sincerely hope I've done it justice!)
Image: courtesy of Google free pics; data: courtesy of Wikipedia and other biographical sources.
Title description: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (1964 song from Mary Poppins; meaning: extraordinarily good, wonderful).

Movie, show and song titles have been used for the poetic purpose of the biography and may not always relate to their historic context. They may also be slightly amended or shortened to accommodate the meter. Thank you for your kind understanding.

Born Richard Wayne Van Dyke in 1925, the older of 2 brothers, in West Plains, Missouri. He grew up in Illinois.

Stanza 1 - The Comic (1969 comedy-drama film. It is the story of a brilliant silent-movie star whose talent is overshadowed by his ego).

Stanza 2/3 - Bye Bye Birdie (1963 film, story of a rock singer who travels to Ohio to make his farewell TV performance and kiss his biggest fan farewell before being drafted; co-starring Janet Leigh).
Step in Time (from the film, Mary Poppins; in the song/dance, he encourages folk to leave their troubles behind and embrace their carefree spirit. It's a celebration of the working class and of camaraderie).
He left High School in his senior year to join the US army air force for pilot training during World War II. He was, however, underweight and denied enlistment. This, in turn, opened the door to a seminal opportunity entertaining the troops in another branch of the Service.

Stanza 4 - Let's Go Fly a Kite (song from 1964 Mary Poppins: once again, encouragement to leave troubles behind; also a meaning of throwing out an idea to judge interest before putting it into practice). This step marked the start of his career.

Stanza 5 - he was strongly influenced by such artists as *Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton. He apparently admitted to Laurel that he'd stolen from him over the years, to which Laurel replied 'I know.'

Stanza 6 - The Girls against the Boys (1959).

Stanza 7 - The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66 - he won 3 Emmy Awards as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and the series won 4 Emmy Awards as Outstanding Comedy Series). The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971-74) without Tyler Moore was less successful.

Stanza 8 - His Cockney/London accent as a chimney sweep in Mary Poppins was heavily and justifiably slated by the critics and public. He admitted that his Irish voice coach knew less about accents than he did!

Stanza 9 - The Morning After (1974 TV movie in which he starred as an alcoholic businessman. He revealed after its release that he had recently overcome a real-life 25 year alcohol addiction).

Stanza 10 - his repertoire has been vast including Diagnosis Murder (1993-2001 TV series); starring in the *cartoon strip inspired Dick Tracy (1990 film) and, of course, Ian Fleming's Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang (1968 film).

Stanza 11 - The Music Man (1980 Broadway revival)
He has incorporated children and grandchildren into his TV endeavours, including appearances in Diagnosis: Murder.
In 2012 he married 40 year old makeup artist, Arlene Silver.

Stanza 12 - Put on a Happy Face (1963 released song from the musical Bye Bye Birdie)
He is quoted as saying: "I was always in show business but in many ways was not really of show business. I didn't move in show business circles, particularly, still don't do it."

Stanza 13 - What a Way to Go (1964 black comedy film).

His career has spanned over 7 decades in film, television and stage. He is the recipient of a Golden Globe, Grammy, Tony, a Daytime Emmy and 4 Prime Time Emmys and in 2013 was honoured with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. Among many other accolades, he is also a Disney Legend.

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