You’ll have to forgive the memory faux pas. Melissa Joan Hart really doesn’t recall dancing with Dick Van Dyke.
It happened more than two decades ago during an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Van Dyke was a guest star on the show. He played a witch and a former cat. The tap-dancing part was the result of a spell. We’ll get to that later.
During a panel for 90s Con earlier this year, a moderator stumped Hart with a question about dancing with Dick Van Dyke, an acting legend and a standout amongst stars of classic TV. Hello, he had his own comedy named for him. His dance scenes in Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang are iconic.
“I did? I met him and I danced with him?” Hart asked? “Someone told me that I did … and I had no recollection. I had to watch it back. I had to really dig in my memory and think, why wouldn’t I remember that?”
To refresh everyone’s memory, here he is dancing with Mary Tyler Moore way back in the day. At 96, he’s still dancing and singing.
Maybe Hart can’t remember because Sabrina, her character, wasn’t much of a dancer. That is, she wasn’t until she met Van Dyke’s Duke. And she says she might have been focusing so much on getting the dancing part down and over with that she didn’t remember the scene.
“He probably came in and I was like, ‘Hi, Mr. Van Dyke,’ ” she told the panel. “And we probably did the routine and then he was like, ‘Okay, bye. I think there was like, no connection with him on it. Like, I didn’t get to ask him about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
She added more details: “It was sort of like a, ‘Hi, I hope I don’t screw this up. I hope I don’t screw this up.’ … Like, you know, I don’t remember it because I never talked about it again. And I never watched it again.”
So about that episode with Dick Van Dyke and Melissa Joan Hart. It aired Feb. 25, 2000. Van Dyke was a young-at-heart 74. He played a character named Duke who was a witch and an associate of Salem’s. This was all before a spell turned Salem into a talking cat. Duke also had been turned into a cat for his part in Salem’s scheme to take over the world.
Dukes visits Salem. And he’s trying to stay on the right side of witch law. But one of his spells accidentally blew up Aunt Hilda’s clock shop. So to try and make up for his mistake, Duke gave Sabrina the ability to dance. Hilda and Zelda eventually figured out how to reverse the spell and return Sabrina to her klutzy self.
But TV audiences got the pleasure of seeing Dick Van Dyke gracefully cross their screens with a light-on-her-toes Melissa Joan Hart.