My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $25.00
  • Save: $7.08 (28%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 16 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Add to Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
Add to Cart
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir Hardcover – May 3, 2011


See all 8 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$17.92
$2.66 $0.01




Frequently Bought Together

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir + This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection
Price for both: $28.44

Buy the selected items together

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on selected titles, including the current pick, "What If?" by Randall Munroe.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype; First Edition edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307592235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307592231
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (232 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A Letter from Author Dick Van Dyke
It was nighttime, February 1943, and I was standing next to my mother, thinking about the war in Europe. I had a very good relationship with my mother, so there's no need for any psychoanalysis about why I was thinking of the war. The fact was, we had finished dinner and she was washing the dishes and I was drying them, as was our routine. My father, a traveling salesman, was on the road, and my younger brother, Jerry, had run off to play.

We lived in Danville, Illinois, which was about as far away from the war as you could get. Danville was a small town in the heartland of America, and it felt very much like the heartland. It was quiet and neighborly, a place where there was a rich side of town and a poor side, but not a bad side. The streets were brick. The homes were built in the early 1900s. Everybody had a backyard; most were small but none had fences.

People left their doors open and their lights on, even when they went out. Occasionally someone down on their luck would knock on the back door and my mother would give him something to eat. Sometimes she would give him an odd job to do, too.

I had things on my mind that night. You could tell from the way I looked out the kitchen window as I did my part of the dishes. I stood six feet one inch and weighed 130 pounds, if that. I was a tall drink of water, as my grandmother said.

"I'm going to be eighteen in March," I said. "That means I'll be up for the draft. I really don't want to go--and I really don't want to be in the infantry. So I'm thinking that I ought to join now and try to get in the Air Force."

My mother let the dish she was washing slide back into the soapy water and dried her hands. She turned to me, a serious look on her face.

"I have something to tell you," she said.

"Yeah?"

"You're already eighteen," she said.

My jaw dropped. I was shocked.

"But how-"

"You were born a little premature," she explained. "You didn't have any fingernails. And there were a few other complications."

"Complications?" I said.

"Don't worry, you're fine now," she said, smiling. "But we just put your birth date forward to what would have been full term."

I wanted to know more than she was willing to reveal, so I turned to another source, my Grandmother Van Dyke. My grandparents on both sides lived nearby, but Grandmother Van Dyke was the most straightforward of the bunch. I stopped by her house one day after school and asked what she remembered about the complications that resulted from my premature birth.

She looked like she wanted to say "bullshit." She asked who had sold me a bill of goods.

"My mother," I replied.

"You weren't premature," she said.

"I wasn't?"

"You were conceived out of wedlock," she said, and then she went on to explain that my mother had gotten pregnant before she and my father married. Though it was never stated, I was probably the reason they got married. Eventually my mother confirmed the story, adding that after finding out, she and my father went to Missouri, where I was born. Then, following a certain amount of time, they returned to Danville.

It may not sound like such a big deal today, but back in 1925 it was the stuff of scandal. And eighteen years later, as I uncovered the facts, it was still pretty shocking to discover that I was a "love child."

I am still surprised the secret was kept from me for such a long time when others knew the truth. Danville was a town of thirty thousand people, and it felt as if most of them were relatives. I had a giant extended family. My great-grandparents on both sides were still alive, and I had first, second, and third cousins nearby. I could walk out of my house in any direction and hit a relative before I got tired.

There were good, industrious, upstanding, and attractive people in our family. There were no horse thieves or embezzlers. I was once given a family tree that showed the Van Dyke side was pretty unspectacular. My great-great-grandfather John Van Dyke went out west via the Donner Pass during the gold rush. After failing to find gold, he resettled in Green County, Pennsylvania.

The same family tree showed that Mother's side of the family, the McCords, could be traced back to Captain John Smith, who established the first English colony in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. Maybe it is true, but I never heard any talk about that when I was growing up. Nor have I fact-checked.

The part beyond dispute begins when my father, Loren, or L. W. Van Dyke, met my mother, Hazel McCord. She was a stenographer, and he was a minor-league baseball player: handsome, athletic, charming, the life of the party. And his talent did not end there. During the off-season, he played saxophone and clarinet in a jazz band. Although unable to read a note of music, he could play anything he heard.

He was enjoying the life of a carefree bon vivant until my mother informed him that she was in a family way. All of a sudden the good life as he knew it vanished. He accepted the responsibility, though, marrying my mom and getting a job as a salesman for the Sunshine Cookie Company.

He hated the work, but he always had a shine on his shoes and a smile on his face. Years later, when I saw Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman, I was depressed for a month. It was my dad's story.

He was saved by his sense of humor. Customers enjoyed his company when he dropped by. Known as Cookie, he was a good time wherever he went. Unfortunately for us, he was usually on the road all week and then spent weekends unwinding on the golf course or hunting with friends. At home, he would have a drink at night and smoke unfiltered Fatima cigarettes while talking to my mother.

He was more reserved around my brother and me, but we knew he loved us. We never questioned it. He was one of those men who did not know how to say the words. A joke was easy. At a party, everyone left talking about what a great guy he was. But a heart-to-heart talk with us boys was not in his repertoire. Years later, after I was married, Jerry and my dad drove to Atlanta to visit us. I asked Jerry what he and Dad had talked about on the drive. He shrugged his shoulders.

"You know Dad," he said. "Not much of anything."

My mother was the opposite. She was funny like my dad, but much more talkative. If she had a deficiency, it was a tendency toward absentmindedness. She once cooked a ham and later found it in my father's shirt drawer. I am not kidding. And when I was in my thirties, she confessed that when I was little she and my father would go to the movies and leave me at home by myself in the crib. I would be a mess when they returned.

"I don't know how I could've done that," she said.

"Me neither," I replied.

"But we were young," she said, smiling. "We didn't mean any harm. We just didn't know any better."

I was five and a half years old when my brother, Jerry, was born. It was not long before my parents moved him from a little bassinet in their room to a crib in my room and made it my job to go upstairs after dinner and gently shake the crib until he went to sleep. Within a year or two, I was given the job of babysitting. It wasn't a problem during the daytime when my mom ran errands and was gone a short time, but there were longer stretches at night when my parents went out and our old house filled with strange noises and eerie creaks, and I turned into a wreck.

Convinced that the place was haunted, I would pull a crate into the middle of the house and sit on it with an ax in my lap, ever vigilant and ready to protect my baby brother--and myself!

At six years old, I was sent to kindergarten. There was only one kindergarten in town, and it was located in the well-to-do section. The school was quite hoity-toity. Every morning my mother dressed me up and gave me two nickels. I used one for the six-mile trolley ride to Edison Elementary, and in the afternoon I used my other nickel to get back home.

For first grade, I switched to Franklin Elementary, which was on the other side of town, the side that was struggling even more than we were through the Great Depression. We didn't have much, but the families in this area did not have anything. All the boys at school wore overalls and work shoes--all of them except for me. I arrived on the first day in a Lord Fauntleroy suit, blue with a Peter Pan collar and a beret.

Since I was the only one in class with any schooling, the teacher made me the class monitor and assigned me to escort kids to the bathroom and back. It was a rough job. Some of the kids were crying. Others wanted to go home. I had my hands full all morning. Between my outfit and my job as helper, I was teased for being the teacher's pet.

At recess, I walked outside and a tough kid in overalls--his name was Al--punched me in the chest while another boy kneeled down behind me. Then Al pushed me backward, and I lost my balance and fell down. I ended up with a bloody nose and a few scratches. They also threw my beret on the roof, and for all I know, it is still there.

I was a mess when I got home after school.

"What in God's name happened to you?" my mother said.

I was too much of a little man to rat out the other kids.

I spared her the details and simply said, "Mom, I need some overalls."

As for the Depression, I remember my parents having some heated arguments about unpaid bills, and which bills to pay. They went in and out of debt and periodically got a second mortgage on the furniture. I wasn't aware of any hardship and never felt the stigma of having to watch every nickel. Everybody was poor.

Actually, we had it better than most. My maternal grandfather owned a grocery store that also sold kosher meat. He did well. He also owned our house, so we had free rent and food. My other grandfather worked in the shop at the East Illinois Railroad. The train yard was his life. He never took a vacation. If he had time off, he put up storm windows for one of us or fixed a broken door for someone. He was always busy.

On Christmas, we came downstairs in the morning and found him waiting for us, after having lit the tree, started a fire in the fireplace, and gotten everything ready. I looked up to him and, with my father on the road more often than not, he became a role model. He was a seemingly simple, industrious man, but he did a lot of thinking about things, too, and that rubbed off on me.

Thanks to my mother and her mother, there was a good measure of talk about religion in our house when I was growing up. Every summer, I went to Bible school. A bus picked me up across the street from our house early in the morning and brought me back in the afternoon. I hated it. I would rather have played and run around with friends.

Nonetheless, at age eleven, I took it upon myself to read the Bible from front to back. I struggled through the various books, asked questions, and when I reached the end I had no idea what any of it meant. But it pleased my mother and grandmother, who were proud of me and boasted to friends of my accomplishment.

As for my studies in school, I was a solid student. I was strong in English and Latin, but I got lost anytime the subject included math. I wish I had paid more attention to biology and science in general, subjects that came to interest me as an adult. I could have gotten better marks, but I never took a book home, never did homework. Come to think of it, neither of my parents ever looked at any of my report cards. They thought I was a good kid--and looking back, I guess I was.

Excerpted from My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir by Dick Van Dyke Copyright © 2011 by Point Productions, Inc. Excerpted by permission of Crown Archetype, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Review

“In my opinion, ‘Luck’ has little to do with Dick Van Dyke’s life. It is, rather, his innate kindness and talent that have had an extraordinary effect in shaping the man. And what a fascinating self-portrait he’s given us in this book.”
—Mary Tyler Moore
 

“From the time I worked with Dick on the movie Bye Bye Birdie, I have admired his many talents, not the least of which is the joy and enthusiasm he shares with audiences.  I’m a big fan of his……and his book.”—Ann-Margret


“Van Dyke tells a wonderful story about himself and his times.  And—in an often surprsingly relevant manner—our times. We’ve always liked the performer—it’s hard not to like Dick Van Dyke—but this will will make you admire him.”--Playbill

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

This book was written very well.
Pamela Lopienski
I recommend this book to any fan of him or his shows or to any who enjoy reading about the life of an actor in a memoir book like this.
C.J. Roger
It felt like you were sitting right next to him and he was telling you his life story like an old friend.
Rachel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Crabby Abby TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The undeniable truth is that Dick Van Dyke may consider himself lucky or charmed by good fortune, but he was (and still is) a very talented and versatile man. This memoir glazes over his very successful career in show business, but primarily focuses on his personal life ------ his one marriage, his children, his 35 year relationship with Michelle Triola Marvin, his midwestern roots, the lean years as he tried to establish himself as a performer, and the gravy years after his career took off.
While this memoir wasn't particularly deep (he didn't dwell on the 'what ifs' or ruminate on the misfortunes that fame can present)or highly detailed, it was loaded with a lot of interesting anecdotes that fleshed out the story of his life. In passing, he recalls missing a job interview with a network in Chicago and a fleeting (and I mean fleeting) one- sided exchange with broadcaster Dave Garroway. He talks about the people he grew up with in Danville, Il which included Bobby Short, Gene Hackman (via his friendship with Hackman's cousin), and Donald O'Connor.
Told in a rambling, conversational tone, this book is very readable and easy to get into. I also think that it illustrates that Van Dyke is one of those guys that can be described as 'what you see is what you get'. He comes across as a very nice person who is very easy to relate to because he is not full of himself. In many ways Van Dyke's life hasn't been perfect, but he has the hindsight to realize it has been a good one.
3 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
41 of 47 people found the following review helpful By DavidT VINE VOICE on May 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who savors the timeless comedy of THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW will enjoy this graceful memoir by its star. At the age of 85, Van Dyke says cheerfully that he's "circling the drain," so it seems as good a time as any to reminisce. Though his classic sitcom and his other career highlights (such as MARY POPPINS) are fully covered here, he also devotes space and thought to his personal life, including the ups and downs of his marriage to the mother of his children, his alcoholism, and his long-term relationship with Michelle Triola (well-remembered as the litigant against ex-lover Lee Marvin in the famous "palimony" case of the 1970s). For an actor so firmly associated with comedy, this isn't an especially funny book, but it is a sincere, straightforward one by a man who says, with pride, that he never played roles in movies or TV shows that he wouldn't want his children to see.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
49 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A&D on May 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I was thrilled to see this new memoir. I have always liked his tv-shows The Dick van Dyke show, and movies like Bye bye Birdie, Mary Poppins, Fitzwilly, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. His television show Diagnosis Murder went years in television.

His new memoir discusses more of Dick van Dyke's personal problems than his professional success. Much of the book deals with Van Dyke's relationships like his marriage to Margie. They have four children. Then he also discusses of his 35-year relationship with Michelle Triola.

"I'm really in retirement. My career is over. I'm just playing now and having a great time. I like to keep busy, and I'm doing what's fun for me." Dick van Dyke
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Brandy526@aol.com on May 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a huge Dyke Van Dyke fan and after reading his bio I can see why.From a middle class family Mr Van Dyke grew up pretty much like kids do.From being on the track team in high school and being in service in the military to being a husband and father to his wife and kids.There was always something which made him shine above others though.That was his his passion for entertainment.In his own words you feel the sincerity which he tells us how alive he feels when he is doing that.What I was very impressed with was that Mr Van Dyke always had morals and values that he stuck with (example)he wanted to make movies that children can watch not children movies but movies that children can watch and he did -he turned down when things were rough for him easy money from the mob which would of been or could of been tragic in the end.In our lives we get to see these movie stars, professional athelets etc.live these wonderful lives with these wonderful jobs and I for one always wonder for being so blessed do they give back.Thank You Dick Van Dyke for your unselfishness for giving back Thank You for your comedy .If I had to some up in one sentence what I got from this book it is that IT Makes Me Want To Be A Better Man.Highly Recommended.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
51 of 66 people found the following review helpful By siena21 on May 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Dick Van Dyke show may be my all time favorite series, and I will still watch the re-runs although I know each show by heart. I grew up in Reno and was thrilled when my parents took me to see Mr. Van Dyke in The Music Man, one of my favorite plays. I was too young to enjoy Diagnosis Murder but I know many older people loved it so I'm sure it was great. Needless to say, I'm a big fan. However, I found this book rather disappointing. The writing was flat, simple, and repeated some of itself throughout. I enjoyed the early chapters which recalled Mr. Van Dyke's childhood with his friends and family. More so, I really liked reading about his beginnings as a performer. I'm always amazed at what so many of these people went through before becoming stars. I couldn't have been less interested in his relationship with Michelle Marvin, who I always regarded as a spoiled, bitchy woman. Mr. Van Dyke's writing of her wasn't thoughtful enough for me to change my mind. I admired that he discussed his battles with nicotine and alcohol. I saw Cold Turkey, and The Morning After as a young teen and remembered them both as being well done films. However, Mr. Van Dyke never goes into depth with any of his subject matter. Everything is glossed over pretty rapidly and I never felt as if I was learning anything new. Okay, he's a funny, talented, nice guy who worked with some amazing people. He opposes war, doesn't think God is an all powerful being, loves Bill Clinton and Obama. Geez, isn't that pretty much everyone in Hollywood? I mean, I would have just loved to hear more about his relationships with the people he worked with. I don't know, maybe I expected too much. Maybe, after all, it's like the book kept saying, Dick Van Dyke is a hard guy to get to know. I won't read it again.
15 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?