Dick Van Dyke

  1. Peter Sellers, The World of Henry Orient, 1964.    Also up for the celebrated pianist:Rex Harrison, Robert Preston, Tony Randall, David Wayne, Gig Young.
  2. Tommy Steele, Half A Sixpence, 1967.    Paramount wanted Dick Van Dyke or Michael Crawford forthe musical of HG Wells’ Kipps, not being too sure about (for them) the unknown British rocker. Although Chicago critic Roger Ebert said Steele – and his teeth -was the perfect performer for such schmaltz, Tommy disagreed. “None of my pictures did any good. I was never any good in them.”

  3. Ron Moody, Oliver!1968.  
    UK director Lewis Gilbert was “was born to direct it.”And the A List names fell like confetti… Richard Burton, Laurence Olivier, Peter O’Toole, Peter Sellersand Elizabeth Taylor as Nancy.Then,Hollywood turned stupid(not for the last time). Hey, Fagin’s a Cockney, right?(Jewish, actually). Who was the last great [sic] Cockney – and who was his co-star then?Right, let’s get the Mary Poppins.       You don’t have to be a genius,” said Gilbert, “to work out that Dick Van Dyke would be a most unliklely Fagin. Certainly not after hisnotoriously horrenduous Cockney accent in Mary Poppins. This was not The Reason that Gilbert never made the film. Just one of them.

  4. George Lazenby, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1968. !!!!
  5. Elvis Presley, The Trouble With Girls (And How To Get Into It), 1969.     First planned for Glenn Ford in 1959 (with Elvis as a sidekick), then for Van Dyke in ’64, it became Presley’s penultimate movie, with less songs and screen time than usual. He was fine as the boss of a 1920s  Chautauqua traveling show (part showbiz, part education). The senseless title aimed to prove that the sizzle had not fizzled. But it had. Two child stars stole everything but The King’s guitar. One more shot (Change of Habit) and he was gone. Back on the road.  
  6. Jerry Lewis, The Day The Clown Cried, 1972.    Milton Berle, Bobby Darin, Joseph Schildkraut failed where Jerry Lewis succeeded (?) – his “family film”about a German clown amusing kids in Auschwitz has never been publicly seen. Jerry felt the whole world conspired against his (unreleased) version. It was called – take your pick – unwatchable/never finished/never seen/buried in his vault/in litigation/out to lunch. “Perfect”- in its awfulness!” said actor Harry Shearer. “Like a student film,” said producer Jim Wright. Not even Steven Spielberg has tried to re-make it.
  7. William Devane, Fear On Trial, TV,1975.      The blacklisting of WCBS radio star John Henry Faulk had been planned ten years earlier as Van Dyke’s first dramatic film:John Henry Goes To New York.   The CBS tele-film was another Bill Devane classic.
  8. Gregory Peck, The Omen, 1975.   Bizarre but true. The lovable TV comic (the Jerry Seinfeld of the 60s), refused to be Ambassador Thorn. “My God that was stupid!” he admittecd iun 2012 – at age 87. “But there as a lot of violence in it – people impaled on things. I was pretty puritan at the time, a goody-two-shoes. I felt I’d put myself in a position [with his classic sitcom, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Disney’s Mary Poppins, etc where the audience trusted me. I turned down several things for that reason – either taste or violence or sex or something.” Charlton Heston, William, Holden and Roy Scheider also fled (but Holden made the sequel!). Van Dyke finally went straight in TV’s Diagnosis Murder,TV,1993-2001… investigating crimes of violence and gore.
  9. Brian Henson, Return to Oz, 1984.      A Disney stalwart in the 60s, Van Dyke was first considered to voice one of Dorothy’s new pals, Jack Pumpkinhead, in the sequel that was not exactly a sequel. Far too depressing for that.
  10. John Mahoney, Say Anything…, 1988. As late as the 30th anniversary screening  at the Tribeca Festival, auteur  Cameron Crowe revealed that  Van Dyke had sought the role of James Court, father of John Cusack’s girlfriend Ione Skye in the  Crowe’s marvellous debut.   Dick would have been too twee. With sugar on it.

  11. Don Knotts, Pleasantville, 1989.    That’s why his company was called Rob’s TVRepair – after Van Dyke’s classic TV comedy character, Rob Petrie.
  12. Michael Lerner, Godzilla, 1997.   Dreaded director Roland Emmerich fluctuated between Van Dyke and Lerner for Mayor Ebert.  And yes his aide was called Gene in a silly nod to  TV’s film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel and their signature thumbs up/down ratings.  They gave this mess two thumbs down, calling it  one of the worst  worst 1998 releases.  As for their “participation,” Siskel said it was petty.  “If you’re going to go through the trouble of putting us in a monster movie, why don’t you at least take advantage of having the monster either eat or squash us.” 
  13. Justin Case, Oz the Great and Powerful, 2012.    Or voice the dear old Scarecrow, why not? Why at all when all three of Dorothy’s fellow Yellowbrickers were barely seen. So… double-depressing. Case is a London screen actor (from Hamlet to… Superman II) with wicked parents – if Ihis  name is real.   But I do love it! And surprised Disney never used it for a nifty TV teen hero.











 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  13