MOVIE LEG­END

Daily Mirror - - NEWS - BY EMILY RETTER

It’s been more than five decades since he twirled his chim­ney sweep’s brush, looped arms with Julie An­drews, and daz­zled us with that megawatt smile – and du­bi­ous cock­ney ac­cent.

Now, at the ripe old age of 90, Dick Van Dyke is as chirpy as ever. And he is more than happy to dis­cuss the ac­cent he’s been gen­tly mocked for ever since his turn in the 1964 clas­sic Mary Pop­pins.

Dick ex­plains that his voice coach wasn’t even English, never mind be­ing from East Lon­don. He says: “They only sent a coach to me once for that ac­cent.

“And he was an Ir­ish­man – his cock­ney ac­cent was not much bet­ter than mine.”

Dick be­came a house­hold name in the 1960s af­ter his star­ring roles in Mary Pop­pins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

And he’s still go­ing strong. When I call him at his LA home, it’s 10am. He’s been up since six and has al­ready spent an hour in the gym. Even his wife Ar­lene Sil­ver – his “child bride” who, at 44, is 46 years his ju­nior and one of the “se­crets” to his con­tin­ued good health – is not yet awake.

He says: “I get up on the right side of the bed, but my wife isn’t a morn­ing per­son – I talk to her at 10pm!”

He seems ir­re­press­ibly chip­per, but there is one per­son who can dampen Dick’s spir­its – Don­ald Trump.

“He is scar­ing me to death,” he says of the Repub­li­can US pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee.

“Why don’t peo­ple see through him? He has a fol­low­ing of mil­lions of peo­ple.

He re­minds me of Mus­solini back in the 1940s. The other day he said, ‘I am the only one who can save you.’ That’s the line of a dic­ta­tor or a tyrant. Not a demo­cratic politi­cian. He re­ally has got me so scared,” says Dick.

“About 30 well-known psy­chi­a­trists came out and said, ‘This man is nar­cis­sis­tic and has delu­sions of grandeur.’

“They don’t think he’s fit – I don’t think he’s fit to be a leader of any­thing, re­ally.”

And Dick’s opin­ion of the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date hasn’t changed much since he first met the ty­coon, as a much younger man at a beach party in Mal­ibu, Cal­i­for­nia.

He says: “He had a shirt opened down to the waist with a bunch of chains on. I kind of passed judg­ment on him then. I don’t think he knew who I was.”

His laugh is in­fec­tious, and Dick, an Amer­i­can ac­tor and all-round en­ter­tainer who grew up in Illi­nois, has made a ca­reer out of mak­ing peo­ple gig­gle.

Orig­i­nally a ra­dio DJ, he be­gan tour­ing as part of a com­edy duo be­fore mak­ing his Broad­way de­but and fi­nally be­com­ing a house­hold name with The Dick Van Dyke show in the 1960s. Now he’s a nona­ge­nar­ian he has lost none of his zest for life.

“I’m still singing and danc­ing,” he says. “I go to the gym in the morn­ing and try and get in the pool three days a week.” He knows he’s lucky to still be so ac­tive.

“I do strug­gle with arthri­tis. I was do­ing Chitty Bang Bang and I pulled a mus­cle in my leg do­ing a dance num­ber.

“The doc­tor said from the X-ray I was rid­dled from head to foot with arthri­tis – and pre­dicted I’d be in a walker within five to seven years. But I’m still danc­ing!”

The only ill health he’s suf­fered was a bout of pneu­mo­nia in Van­cou­ver two years ago when he was film­ing the com­edy Night at the Mu­seum: Se­cret of the Tomb with Ben Stiller.

He says: “I was struck with pneu­mo­nia and my lung col­lapsed. They told me I might have breath­ing prob­lems but I don’t have any. I’m very lucky.”

De­spite re­main­ing healthy as he grows

COCK-ER-NEY CHAP Dick with Julie An­drews in the 1964 hit Mary Pop­pins TV SHOW With co-star Mary Tyler Moore CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG As Pro­fes­sor Potts with ac­tress Sally Ann Howes

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