Richard Wayne Van Dyke was born in West Plains, Missouri but actually grew up in Danville, Illinois, the very same birthplace that he used for his most popular and well known character, Robert Petrie from his titular sitcom, "The Dick Van Dyke Show".
Growing up Mr. Van Dyke was heavily influenced by his big screen idol Stan Laurel from the silent film era comedy duo "Laurel & Hardy", which inspired him to go into show business.
After appearing in high school plays and community theater productions in his youth, he enlisted in the US Air Force. Due to being very under weight, he had to try 3 times before being accepted. Dick Van Dyke didn't see any action, instead was a radio DJ for the Army Air Corps. and never left the US.
After some local comedy shows in Atlanta and New Orleans, he signed on with CBS in 1956. He did some game show work, and debuted his acting talents in an episode of "The Phil Silvers Show".
He left CBS for Broadway and starred in "Bye-Bye Birdie" which won him a Tony Award. Carl Reiner, saw him in the play and signed him up for the lead role of Robert Petrie in the “The Dick Van Dyke Show".
Along with his most famous sitcom, Dick Van Dyke would go on to star in the film version of "Bye-Bye Birdie” and opposite Julie Andrews in "Mary Poppins".
He won critical acclaim for his roles in the TV movies, "The Comic" and "The Morning After", the latter a highly acclaimed drama about an alcoholic businessman, which was close to the heart for the recently recovered alcoholic Dick Van Dyke.
Dick Van Dyke would find the late 70's to the 80's lean years, until he found a new niche, as the wily and crafty mystery detective, Dr. Mark Slone on "Diagnosis Murder" which ran successfully from 1993 to 2001