Jerry Van Dyke – Another Great “Act” Lost
As early as high school age, Jerry Van Dyke endeavored to be a stand-up comedian. He was known to perform anywhere and everywhere, including nightclubs and strip clubs. He wasn’t too proud to do whatever it took to get exposure to an audience. After high school, he enlisted in the armed forces and was associated with the United States Air Force, Tops In Blue. Tops In Blue was an assembly of active duty airmen who traveled around the world to entertain their fellow airmen and their families.
Comedian, Jerry Van Dyke, made his television premiere on The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1964, as Stacey Petrie, Rob Petrie’s brother. It should come as no surprise that Jerry Van Dyke and Dick Van Dyke were brothers; Dick being the eldest of the two. As if the last name didn’t give it away, they could have been mistaken for each other if not for the height difference.
After his exposure on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Jerry was recognized for his talent and was engaged to appear on other television shows; mostly supporting roles and behind the scenes work. After not making it big, Jerry returned to what he knew best and loved… stand-up comedy. During much of the 1970s, he took his show on the road and performed in Las Vegas and Playboy Clubs. Jerry also appeared on popular sitcoms including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Fantasy Island and Love American Style. Jerry Van Dyke also appeared in commercials for franchise businesses like Hardee’s and Big Lots.
From 1989 to 1997, Van Dyke portrayed Luther Van Dam on the then-popular sitcom, Coach. He was a genuine, lovable and naïve character who never failed to deliver the punchline.
Jerry Van Dyke’s latest television role was on the hit sitcom, The Middle. His final television appearance was in 2015 when he reprised his role as Frankie's father on the same show. His acting career ended the same way it began; with his brother, Dick Van Dyke, appearing with him, portraying brothers.
Jerry Van Dyke was no doubt a funny guy who entertained audiences with his lighthearted brand of comedy. He was a real guy with a real sense of humor that he endeavored to share with others. He was funny in his own right but always publicly seemed to be following in the shadow of his older brother. That, however, was of no consequence to him. Jerry Van Dyke was happy to make his own way and stand on his own merits.
Jerry Van Dyke loved life and loved humor alike. He went to his final resting place on January 5, 2018 with the satisfaction that he had fulfilled the dream of making people laugh. Although his life may have been more privileged than others, his legacy is a simple one; one of pure happiness. Rest in peace, Jerry, and thanks for everything.
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