On This Day: ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ Series Finale Aired in 1966

by Joe Rutland

Put under the “all good things must come to an end” category, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” airs its series finale on this day in 1966.

Goodness, this classic TV show which ran between 1961-66 on CBS has made quite an impact over the years.

The show stars Van Dyke as head writer Rob Petrie for “The Alan Brady Show.” Mary Tyler Moore played his wife Laura, and Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam played show writers Sally Rogers and Buddy Sorrell, respectively. Larry Mathews played Rob and Laura’s son, Ritchie.

‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ Creator Says Alan Brady Wasn’t Based On Sid Caesar

Carl Reiner, the show’s main writer and producer, played talk-show host Alan Brady. Richard Deacon played his long-suffering assistant and family member Mel Cooley.

“The Dick Van Dyke Show” reportedly had some of its origins from Reiner’s time as a writer with comedian Sid Caesar on “Your Show of Shows.”

Reiner actually appeared in the pilot for the “Van Dyke” show called “Head of the Family.” Reiner said in a 2009 interview with the San Franciso Chronicle that Alan Brady, the character, was not based on Sid Caesar.

“No, it was based on – first of all, Milton Berle was notorious for yelling at his crew and ordering people around,” Reiner said. “It was an amalgam of him, several other characters, and Jackie Gleason, who really was mean to his writers. I assiduously keep telling people it wasn’t Sid.” 

CBS Sitcom Managed To Collect 15 Emmy Awards During Its Run

Petrie was based, he said, on Reiner himself. Obviously, Reiner chose to not play the lead role and found Van Dyke to do it.

The show ran for five seasons on CBS. Reiner decided to stop at that point. Its first season found “The Dick Van Dyke Show” finishing 80th in the Nielsen ratings. That’s a sure-fire place for cancellation.

But the network kept it on the air. The show finished in the Top 10 in its second, third, and fourth seasons. In its final season, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” finished No. 16.

It also received 25 Emmy Award nominations, winning 15 during its time on CBS. Reiner won four, Van Dyke won three, and Moore took home two. Only Van Dyke, at 95 years old, and Mathews are alive from the original cast.

One of the many moments from “The Dick Van Dyke Show” classic TV fans remember is when Laura goes on national TV and lets out a secret. What was it? Alan Brady is bald. Did Alan take the news well? Um, no. Take a look at this great scene between Moore and Reiner.