Monday, August 11, 2014

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir by Dick Van Dyke

About half way through listening to My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke, I wondered what would come next. I was pretty sure that I had seen Van Dyke in something after the original Dick Van Dyke Show and Mary Poppins, but I could not say what. I thought reading about years of his not being in the public eye might be interesting. To my surprise I learned that he has always been a busy showbiz man. I have no idea why the word "Out" is in the title of his book. He seemed to always have a new entertainment project.

Being a Boomer who watched a lot of television in the 1960s and very little after that, I naturally enjoyed the first part of the book the most. Van Dyke tells about growing up in Danville, Illinois, working odd jobs (he was a terrible shoe salesman), and heading to California to comically lip-sync popular songs in night clubs. Getting a radio show in Atlanta led to getting another in New Orleans where he was noticed and then hired by CBS who had no idea what to do with him. As I heard on the audiobook, it all works out splendidly after a few morning wake up shows and lots of car problems.

Van Dyke reads his own book, but it sounds more like he is just telling us what he's been up to. Early on he promises "no dirt" and keeps that promise by 21st century standards. He does, however, bring up topics that would have been edited out if he had written in the 1960s. He is lighthearted even when being frank. He is a good storyteller, and fans will enjoy hearing details of the productions of his famous shows and about his crossing paths with many of his colleagues in later life. My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business was a good companion to a lot of weekend gardening.

Van Dyke, Dick. My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir. Crown Archetype, 2011. 278p. ISBN 9780307592231.

audiobook: Books on Tape, 2011. 6 CDs. ISBN 9780307914323.

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