Actor was overshadowed by brother Dick Van Dyke

Jerry Van Dyke
Jerry Van Dyke

NEW YORK • He was not as famous as his older brother, but Jerry Van Dyke eventually emerged from the shadow of Dick.

The 86-year-old Jerry, nominated four times for an Emmy for his role in ABC sitcom Coach, died last Friday at his Arkansas ranch. His wife said his health had deteriorated since a traffic accident in 2015.

From the beginning, his television career was intertwined with Dick's. One of his earliest TV appearances was in 1962 in a two-part episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show as the would-be comedian brother of Dick's character.

A boisterous performer who supported himself with a banjo-and-comedy stage act when television or film roles were scant, Jerry was a ham to his brother's more dignified persona. But while Dick had runaway success early on, with the Broadway show and film Bye Bye Birdie, the musical Mary Poppins and The Dick Van Dyke Show, his brother's career was defined by a string of short-lived projects.

Jerry was good-humoured about his failures. "If I had to do it over again, I definitely would have turned things down," he said in 1994. "Almost everything I did."

In 1989, he landed the role of assistant coach Luther Van Dam on Coach. Van Dam, a bumbling, subservient second banana who had occasional moments of pathos, was a reliable source of laughs on the show, which ran until 1997.

Jerry was nominated for four Emmys for Best Supporting Actor but never won. He said in 1990 that he was thrilled to get some recognition after his meandering career.

"Everybody talks about me making a comeback," he added. "I say: 'Comeback from what? This is as good as it's ever been.'"


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2018, with the headline 'Actor was overshadowed by brother Dick Van Dyke'. Print Edition | Subscribe