Actor and comedian Jerry Van Dyke, younger brother of Dick Van Dyke, passed away at the age of 86 according to TMZ. Van Dyke was born July 27, 1931 in Danville Illinois. He began his career in stand up comedy while still in high school, and often toured in strip clubs as well as nightclubs. In 1954 and 55 he was a member of Tops in Blue, a touring group of entertainers made up of active members of the United States Air Force. He won a military talent contest, which lead to a few appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Van Dyke made his onscreen acting debut as the brother of his real life brother on The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1962 and appeared four times in the role of sleepwalking and banjo playing Stacie Petrie. His skills with the banjo had been a part of his stand up routine and would show up again in other acting roles, including a guest spot on The Andy Griffith Show. Not long after, he was offered the chance to replace Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show but decided not to.
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Not long after his first appearance on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Van Dyke began making movies, with appearances in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Palm Springs Weekend, and McLintock. He also continued to guest star on TV series, including Perry Mason and The Cara Williams Show. In 1964 he was offered the role of Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island but turned it down, claiming the pilot script was the worst thing he ever read. Instead he took the lead on the series My Mother the Car which was canceled after 30 episodes.
Van Dyke continued to work after the end of My Mother the Car. He guest starred on That Girl and two episodes of Vacation Playhouse before taking on another lead in a sitcom – Accidental Family – which was canceled after only 16 episodes. He then co-starred with Andy Griffith in the movie Angel in my Pocket. Van Dyke and Griffith then worked together on another series – Headmaster – which only lasted 13 episodes. Van Dyke continued to make guest appearances on popular shows like Mary Tyler Moore, Fantasy Island, Newhart, The Love Boat, and Charles in Charge. He also worked with brother Dick again, in episodes of The New Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis Murder.
It was in 1989 that Van Dyke got the biggest and most well-remembered role of his career, that of Assistant Coach Luther Horatio Van Dam on the sitcom Coach. The series ran for 9 years and nearly two hundred episodes, and resulted in Van Dyke being nominated for four consecutive Emmy Awards. A revival of Coach was attempted in 2015, but it was canceled before entering production.
Van Dyke continued acting until two years ago, when a car accident left him in ill health – possibly leading to his death. His final role was a recurring one on the sitcom The Middle, appearing in 8 episodes of the series. In the last of those episodes, his brother Dick guest-starred, playing Jerry’s brother one last time and bringing Jerry Van Dyke’s career full circle.
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