Dick Van Dyke Site:  Introduction  |  Bibliography  |  Discography  |  Videography  |  Webography  |  Danville

Jerry Van Dyke Site:  Introduction  |  Videography  |  Webography  |  Danville

Sign on the corner of Vorhees and Vermilion Streets

DANVILLE

A Pictorial History of Dick and Jerry Van Dyke in Their Hometown of Danville, Illinois.

 

Sign on the corner of Fairchild and Vermilion Streets


GROWING UP

Dick was born Richard Wayne Van Dyke on December 13, 1925 in West Plains, Missouri.  The family moved to Danville when Dick was very young.  Jerry was born in Danville on July 27, 1931.  By all accounts, Danville still holds a special place in their hearts. 

Dick as a boy

Jerry Van Dyke's High School Yearbook Photo

Left: a young Dick Van Dyke on pony-back.  

Above: Jerry Van Dyke's 1950 high school graduation photo and description. 

Dick and Jerry's first home in Danville

Dick and Jerry's second home in Danville

Above left: Dick and Jerry's first house at 930 Hazel St.  Above right: their second house at 923 Grant St. (House photos courtesy Danville Area Convention & Visitors' Bureau)

Dick performs magic in high school

Dick performs magic in high school

Dick in an early performance
Above: One of Dick's early dramatic appearances, as the character "Bob Morris" in the Danville High School production Midnight, circa 1941. 

Right: The Kathryn Randolph Theater, home of the Red Mask Players since the 1960's.  Dick and Jerry performed with Red Mask before it was located here.  Jerry performed at a dinner in October 1962 to raise money for a down payment on this building.  Likewise, Dick contributed funds during a visit to Danville in 1963.  It was built in 1902 as the Cumberland (later Immanuel) Presbyterian Church -- coincidentally, Dick and Jerry's childhood church.

Red Mask Theater

Sketch made by Dick Van Dyke in his early 20's

WDAN / WDNL radio station

Above Left: a fanciful self-portrait sketch Dick made when working at Danville radio station WDAN (above right).  Chief Engineer Don Russell recently restored a rare early sound recording of the 21 year-old Dick co-hosting "Banker's Hours," a 1946 show broadcast from Danville's Wolford Hotel.  Years later, Jerry played banjo on the air.  (Sketch courtesy WDAN/WDNL).

RETURNING

Dick and Jerry have returned to Danville throughout the years for family visits, benefits, and to be honored for their work.

Letter to Danville from Dick and Margie Van Dyke

Dick first returned to Danville in March 1963, at the height of his success on The Dick Van Dyke Show.  A downtown parade held in his honor attracted thousands.  Home-movie footage from the parade appears in the E! Celebrity Profile of Dick.  

Below: during the visit he was presented with the key to the city.  Left: Dick and his wife were so overwhelmed by the warm reception they wrote a letter of thanks to the local paper.

Dick is given the city key
(Letter and photo courtesy Danville Commercial News).

Jerry returned to Danville several times in the early 1970's.  On October 4, 1971, he came to present "Jerry Van Dyke and His Hollywood Friends," a benefit for the Danville Tennis Club held at Danville High School.  The performers -- all friends of Jerry -- included actors George Lindsey, Maggie Peterson, Denver Pyle, and Danville native Gene Hackman.

Right: In 1973, Jerry and his family actually moved back to Danville for a brief time.  Saying he "didn't like what California was doing to [my] kids," he moved into a large home on Logan Avenue with his wife and three children.  But Jerry's work forced them to leave the area after only a year. 

Jerry Van Dyke returns to Danville in 1973
(Photo courtesy Danville Commercial News)

Famous Danville natives return for a visit
Above: In May 1988, Dick and Jerry joined Danville natives (from left) Donald O'Connor, Bobby Short, and Gene Hackman for a benefit to raise money for the city's Fischer Theatre(Photo by Chuck Cannady, courtesy Vermilion County Museum)

Jerry Van Dyke works the crowd at his parade

Jerry directs traffic on Vermilion Street

By mayoral proclamation, June 4, 1994 was Jerry Van Dyke Day in Danville.  Above left: Jerry was honored with a parade in downtown Danville, an event featured in People magazine.  A dance concert at Danville High School and a dinner at the Lamplighter restaurant completed the busy day.  Above right: Jerry "directs" traffic on Vermilion St. during his visit. (Left photo by Chuck Cannady, right photo by Roy Dabner, both courtesy Danville Commercial News).

Banner at the high school announcing Dick's visit

Above: In his first visit to Danville in 16 years, Dick returned from April 29-May 2, 2004.  Though he came primarily to attend two Danville High School performances of Bye Bye Birdie (the show that launched his career in 1960), the weekend was packed with other events:

The Burfords

Left: the events began with a press conference featuring "The Burfords," the nickname Dick and his childhood friends used to describe their tight-knit group in high school.  From left, Jerry Seawright, Dick, Harold Brown, and Bob Hackman (uncle of Danville native Gene Hackman).

Dick kicks

Dick receives the Danville Community Encyclopedia

Above left: Dick takes to the Danville High School stage to rehearse a number with the students.  The 78-year old demonstrated that he still has a dancer's moves. Above right: After the rehearsal, Danville Public Library Director Barb Nolan (right) presents Dick with the Danville Community Encyclopedia and a library tote bag.

Dick receives WDAN/WDNL award

Dick records sound bites

The busy day continued with a tour of the WDAN/WDNL studios, where Dick worked as an announcer in the early 1940's.  Above left: Station owner Geoff Neuhoff presents Dick with a broadcasting award.  Above right: Dick records sound bites for this website, for the station, and for the Red Mask Players website. 

Dick on stage with students
(Photo by Rick Danzi, courtesy The News-Gazette)

Dick attended both sold-out performances of Bye Bye Birdie on Friday and Saturday night.  Left: At the end of each performance, he took to the stage to perform a number with the students.  Afterward, a specially-commissioned documentary short about Dick and his friends, created by award-winning filmmaker Craig Lindvahl, was screened.  
Dick was presented with awards and honors both evenings:

Right: Because he enlisted in the Air Force several months before his high school graduation ceremony, Dick never picked up his diploma.  Danville School District Superintendent Gary Tucker remedied the problem by presenting Dick with his diploma after the performance.

Dick receives his high school diploma
(Photo by Matt Huber, courtesy Danville Commercial News)

Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, who proclaimed April 30 and May 1 "Dick Van Dyke Days," presented Dick with the key to the city because, although Dick received the key during a visit in 1963, "the locks have been changed since then."  Danville High School Principal Mark Denman used the opportunity to announce the creation of the Dick Van Dyke Scholarship for the Performing Arts.  The first four winners -- Rhoda Lewis, Graham Peck, Emily Hoffman, and Scott Turner -- were presented with the award by Van Dyke himself. 

Dick's hands are cast in cement at the Fischer
(Photo by Matt Huber, courtesy Danville Commercial News)

Left: On Saturday, Dick continued his demanding schedule with more appearances, including a visit to the Fischer Theatre, where his feet and handprints were pressed in cement. 

The busy weekend was covered extensively in the local press.  The Danville Commercial News produced an 8-page Special Section incorporating photos, reminiscences by Dick and his friends and fans, a quiz, and the videography from this website.  

(The section is a 1 MB .pdf file and make take some time to download).

 

Below: The Bye Bye Birdie playbill included an article from the January 31, 1944 issue of the Danville High School newspaper, announcing Dick's departure from school to join the Air Force.  Note the prescient final line:

High school newspaper article

Below: In 2005, the McDonald's restaurant on Gilbert Street in Danville was remodeled to showcase an impressive salute to famous Danville natives, including Dick and Jerry, with permanent displays of photographs and memorabilia.  

Glass etching of Dick at McDonald's
Glass etching of Dick Van Dyke

 

Photo of Dick and Jerry Van Dyke hanging in McDonald's
Photo of Dick and Jerry from 1968

Below: On June 17, 2006, Dick participated live via speakerphone in a book signing promoting To Twilo and Beyond! My Walnut Adventures with 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' Cast by David Van Deusen.  The author also talked live with Rose Marie.  The event was broadcast on WDAN, Dick's old employer.

The one-hour radio interview is available for downloading here: Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 (The sound files total 48 MB and are broken into10 parts for quicker downloading.  Rose Marie's interview begins with Part 3 and Dick's interview begins with Part 4.  Special thanks to WDAN and David Van Deusen for these files). 

David Van Deusen talks by phone with Dick Van Dyke
The two DVDs: author David Van Deusen talks with Dick Van Dyke by phone. 

Mike Hulvey and David Van Deusen broadcast
WDAN Station Manager Mike Hulvey broadcasts the interviews.

Bob Hackman talks with Dick Van Dyke
Dick's lifelong friend, Bob Hackman, talks with Dick.


HIGH SCHOOL DEDICATION

In May 2011, Danville High School officials invited Dick to attend the re-naming of their auditorium in his name.  The dedication of the Dick Van Dyke Auditorium occurred following the staging of the "Moments Musical," and though Dick was unable to be there in person, he attended virtually via Skype.

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Last Update January 8, 2013  |  Feedback: mboedicker@hotmail.com