‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ Was Almost Canceled After 1 Season: Here’s Why

by Madison Miller

“The Dick Van Dyke Show” was one of the most popular shows of the ’60s. Even now it remains popular as fans watch reruns of the show starring Dick Van Dyke, Rose Marie, Mary Tyler Moore, and Morey Amsterdam.

The show ran on CBS from Oct. 3, 1961, to June 1, 1996. The show would end up with five seasons and a total of 158 episodes.

However, the hit show actually almost didn’t survive to see the second season.

Why Was ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ Almost Canceled?

The show was released right amidst the huge surge in sitcoms. From “Gilligan’s Island” to “Beverly Hillbillies,” to “The Andy Griffith Show,” there was no shortage of popular shows.

At its time, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” was actually considered “controversial.” The show had a type of humor that was unfamiliar to audiences of the time. Also, Mary Tyler Moore often wore capris pants instead of the typical skirts of the ’50s and ’60s. There was a level of sophisticated comedy unlike anything else on television.

The first season of the show brought really low ratings for CBS. At the time, the thought of dragging it on with another season seemed like a terrible idea. Without the help of an advertiser, fans would have been left with one instead of five seasons of the show.

Proctor & Gamble, a major advertiser at the time, became the lifeline of the show.

According to Forbes, the executives from the companies were huge fans of the show. If CBS canceled the show they threatened to pull all their advertising from the station. CBS decided to continue with the show as to not suffer in advertising.

They moved the show to a new time slot and it thrived.

CBS never canceled the show. The actors decided they were done and it was time to call quits on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

Mary Tyler Moore Pants

As mentioned before, Mary Tyler Moore broke through some gendered traditions in “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

When Moore started wearing the capri pants on the show, executives fought back. They claimed that all TV housewives wore dresses and they needed to follow this pattern.

However, she eventually got her way and could continue wearing them. She insisted that all the housewives she knew did wear pants in the house. Eventually, these kinds of pants became the newest fashion trend. “I Love Lucy” also featured Lucille Ball in pants throughout the show.

“I had Laura wear pants, because I said, ‘Women don’t wear full-skirted dresses to vacuum in.’ CBS said, ‘You know, we’re afraid that housewives are going to be a little annoyed because she looks so good in pants.‘ So they made Carl [Reiner, the show’s creator] promise not to let me wear pants in more than one scene. We went along with that for about three episodes, and then finally, I was just wearing the pants. We got the absolution of men everywhere and women kind of breathed a sigh of relief, too, and said, ‘Hey, that’s right. That’s what we wear,'” Moore said, according to Vanity Fair.

She said at the time that wearing pants is “what I do in real life.” The show’s popularity helped launch this kind of pants into the mainstream, which many women were thankful for.

H/T: Showbiz CheatSheet