Friday, June 15, 2007

Dick Van Dyke, Mama, and Me

Although I was stressed about meeting my work deadline yesterday, I did take some time off for a birthday celebration for my son. We went to a Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica, CA. We all were having a wonderful time when I happened to look up and saw Dick Van Dyke at another table.

For those of you who don't know him, he not only played Rob Petrie in one of my favorite childhood TV shows, The Dick Van Dyke show but he played Bert, the chimney sweep, in Mary Poppins, one of my favorite musicals to which I know all the songs. He has had an illustrious career.

Because of my grandparents, I have known many celebrities. When my mother was a child, my grandparents were friends with George Burns and Gracie Allen, Jack and Mary Benny, Ed and Sylvia Sullivan, the Marx brothers, Sophie Tucker, Fred Allen, Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler and so many more. When I was a child, I met many of them at my grandparents' country club.

The first job I had once I graduated from UCLA was as an NBC Page and I worked the Tonight show, Chico and The Man, Hollywood Squares, and so many more.

Still, I do get a kick out of celebrity sightings. As I returned from the bathroom of the Mexican restaurant and was passing Mr. Van Dyke's table, I said, "Shall I pretend not to notice you or should I tell you that I've been a fan for most of my life?"

He laughed and said, "It probably has been most of your life."

"I may be your only fan who can sing Chim Chim Cheree (a song from Mary Poppins)."

"Do you sing in my key?" he asked with a smile.

"No, but I sing your part and Julie Andrews' as well."

We both laughed and I went back to my table. We left the restaurant, and the valet pulled our car to the entrance. My mother was tired and I had some difficulty getting her in the car from her wheel chair. She said, "I just can't do it."

"Of course you can," I extolled, and looked up to see Mr. Van Dyke holding the door.

My mom didn't see him and still was complaining when I said, "Mama, if Dick Van Dyke is going to hold the door, then surely you can get inside the car."

Everyone, including my mother, laughed. I turned to her and said, "After all, it's only in Los Angeles that a celebrity will help you get into your car."

That brought the house down! Once mama was seated in the car, we waved to Mr. Van Dyke and the other valets, and drove off. Only in L.A.


Polly said...

That's a great story. I've never met Dick Van Dyke, but once when I was a kid, a guy in a chimney sweep costume shook my hand at the Disney World parade. I love Mary Poppins.

Syd said...


What a marvelous story! I laughed out loud and I'm still smiling. I told my mother and she laughed too. Thanks for sharing!

BPpro said...

Great story. I once saw Robert Wagner at a restaurant.

marja said...

What a wonderful story! Wow!