Jerry Van Dyke
The Official Biography Tribute to the Late Jerry Van Dyke - R.I.P.
Jerry Van Dyke
For actor/comedian Jerry Van Dyke, his four consecutive (1990, 1991, 1992, & 1993) Emmy nominations in the category of “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series”, is both a culmination and still a beginning. As Luther Van Dam, the slightly befuddled assistant coach on the long-running smash hit ABC comedy “COACH”, Jerry earned an entirely new generation of fans, and the Emmy nominations salutes his sensational work on that show. As a stand-up comic, film and TV actor, Jerry Van Dyke has been a familiar presence to audiences for more than four decades.
Born on July 27th and raised in Danville, Illinois, Jerry began his career while still in high school. As the undisputed class clown, he performed comedy routines for anyone who would stop long enough to listen, even the school principal. He later graduated to strip joints and hole-in-the-wall clubs across the country before joining the Air Force Special Services in 1952.
While in the service, Jerry got a taste of world-class performing, doing his act at bases around the world. After twice winning the “All Air Force Talent Show,” Jerry got a big break with a pair of lauded guest stints on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. From there, his show business career shifted into high gear.
He landed his first acting role in 1962 as a guest star on his brother’s ground-breaking TV comedy, “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” in which he played Dick’s brother. His performances were so well-received that he was immediately signed a long-term contract with CBS. After providing comic relief as a series regular on “The Judy Garland Show,” Jerry became Host of the popular game show,“Picture This.”
Given Jerry’s drive for success, it’s no surprise that Grant Tinker convinced Jerry to star in the TV series, “My Mother the Car” as Dave Crabtree. Though it only aired for one season, this decidedly weird show gained a cult-like status, and is well-remembered by TV buffs everywhere. Jerry also starred as a series regular as Jerry Webster on “Accidental Family,” Coach Jerry Brownell on “Headmaster,” Steven Winter on “13 Queens Boulevard,” Assistant Coach Luther Horatio Van Dam on “COACH,” Grandpa Max on “You Wish,” and Grandpa Jerry Beauchamp on “Teen Angel”.
Jerry has had recurring roles on such shows as “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Love American Style,” “Mary Tyler Moore,” “Fantasy Island,” and from 2001 - 2006 recurred on CBS’s “Yes, Dear” as Big Jimmy Hughes. Most recently, he appeared as Tag Spence on “The Middle.”
He has had guest starring roles in such shows as “The Millers,” “Raising Hope,” “My Name is Earl,” “Committed,” “The District,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “The New Addams Family,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Grace Under Fire,” “Charles in Charge,” “Newhart,” “The Love Boat,” “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Perry Mason,” “That Girl,” and “The Andy Williams Show,” to name a few.
Jerry has also landed many fine roles in feature films, such as The Courtship of Eddie’s Father with Shirley Jones and Ron Howard, Palm Springs Weekend with Connie Stevens and Troy Donahue, Angel in My Pocketwith Andy Griffith and Lee Meriwether, Love & Kisses with Ricky Nelson, McClintock with John Wayne, W.A.R.: Women Against Rape and Run If You Canbothwith Martin Landau. His television Movies-Of-The-Week credits include: Fun with Dick and Jerry Van Dyke, the May 2004 reunion for CBS’s “The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited,” the hilarious CBS mini-series, “Fresno” with Carol Burnett and Dabney Coleman, ABC’s “The Amazing Cosmic Awareness of Duffy Moon,” and PBS’s “Merry Christmas, George Bailey” with Sally Field, Penelope Ann Miller, and Christian Slater to name a few. His voice can be heard on the animation Annabelle’s Wish with Rue McClanahan and Cloris Leachman.
Jerry has resided in Los Angeles since 1962, but between engagements, he and his wife Shirley escape to their 800-acre ranch in rural Arkansas. “We have all kinds of ranch type creatures there,” say the comedian, “everything from horses to llamas.”
Jerry’s talent goes far beyond his TV success. Over the years and currently, he had performd live, headlining at top Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Lake Tahoe and Reno showrooms along with performing art centers throughout the US. “I’m not some guy who went on TV, became successful, then said, Hey, I’ll put together an act!” notes Jerry. “It’s thrilling for audiences who go just to see one of my beloved characters, but then discover there is a lot more to me.” R.I.P. Jerry we miss you!
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