How Well Do You Know "The Dick Van Dyke Show"?


By: Ian Fortey

6 Min Quiz

Image: CBS

About This Quiz

Carl Reiner's experiences as a TV comedy writer inspired him to want to share his story with the world. He created a show about a comedy writer and his funny co-workers and his family and pitched it to the network. Did it go on to become a classic in TV history? Not exactly. 

They liked the idea but not Reiner. So the show was tweaked and retooled and played with until they cast Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. And the result ended up being one of television's greatest shows. Even all these years later, it stands up to scrutiny. The jokes are just as funny, the writing's just as crisp and the performances are like nothing else. This was one of the best casts with the best writing ever, hands down. 

It's been decades since the show went off the air, but good TV is good TV, and you can still catch it all over the place. If you remember the show like it was yesterday or you've just been getting into it now, then you've got a chance to prove how big a fan you are by taking this quiz. Let's find out just how much you remember about "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

Rob injures himself when he goes on a ski trip just like his wife said he would. What does he hurt?

Rob and Jerry decide to go on a skiing trip in season 2, but Laura warns him that it won't end well. Predictably, Rob injuries himself, but he does it so badly his whole body has to be put in a cast, which he then tries to hide from Laura.


What famous comedian was Dick Van Dyke's character based on?

In the series, Dick Van Dyke played a character named Rob Petrie. Petrie was based on Carl Reiner, who created the show as a fictitious account of his own experiences writing for a comedy TV show.


What was Laura's favorite food?

Whether it's because writers really like moo goo gai pan or because it sounds kind of funny, this Cantonese stirfry dish actually shows up in a lot of comedies back in the day, but it was also Laura's favorite dish in any case.


Rob goes under anesthesia at the dentist and dreams that he's where?

Rob's dream takes him to a Wild West town in the episode entitled "The Gunslinger." In his dream town, he's the sheriff and, of course, his family and friends are there. He also has to take on the villainous "Big Bad Brady."


The show explains how Rob and Laura met. How did it happen?

The show explains that Laura and Rob met back in the day when Rob was a soldier in the army. Laura was a dancer with the USO, and during a dance number, Rob inadvertently broke her foot.


Alan actually fires one of the crew in season five, but then quickly hires them back. Who was it?

Alan tears into Mel in this episode, basically humiliating him verbally, so Rob encourages him not to let it happen again by standing up to Alan. The result is Mel getting fired. On the upside, Alan soon realizes he needs Mel and then hires him back.


In one episode of the show, Rob and Laura accidentally buy an ugly painting. Who turns out to be the artist?

The ugly painting that Rob and Laure accidentally bid on and then win at the auction is signed by an artist named "Artanis." The name is, of course, a pseudonym and is actually Sinatra backward.


What was significant about the episode "Happy Birthday and Too Many More?"

The episode "Happy Birthday and Too Many More" was filmed in November of 1963. That was shortly after President Kennedy was assassinated. The cast and crew chose to film without an audience since it was unlikely anyone was in the mood to laugh.


What Broadway musical did Dick Van Dyke quit to take the job on the "The Dick Van Dyke Show?"

Dick Van Dyke was the lead in the Broadway production of "Bye Bye Birdie," and he had to quit the show to take the role in "The Dick Van Dyke Show." It was a bit of a risk for Van Dyke since the show could have failed and left him jobless.


Do you remember the address of the house where Rob Petrie and his family lived?

Rob Petrie and his wife Laura lived with their son Ritchie in the town of New Rochelle, New York. Their address was 148 Bonnie Meadow Road. New Rochelle is a real city with a population of about 78,000.


Do you remember what song Laura and Rob sang together for the first time ever?

We learn in the sixth episode of the show that Laura and Rob met back in the day when Rob was in the Army and Laura was a dancer with the USO. The song they first sang together was "You Wonderful You."


When Rob, Sally and Buddy find a memo to Alan in the trash, what does it inspire them all to do?

After a script goes missing, the writers look through the trash to find it. While doing so, they discover a memo to Alan that says a writer needs to be fired so the three of them make a preemptive strike and quit as one to find a new gig.


Who played Stacey Petrie, the brother of Dick Van Dyke's character on the show?

The role of Stacey Petrie went to Dick Van Dyke's real-life brother Jerry Van Dyke. He would go on to star in "My Mother The Car," which is still considered one of the worst, if not the worst, sitcoms of all time.


Why didn't Dick Van Dyke initially want Mary Tyler Moore on the show?

Mary Tyler Moore got her big break on the show, but Van Dyke was initially hesitant about casting her. He was 11 years older than Moore and was afraid that the relationship on screen wouldn't work. However, since they had such great chemistry, it ended up working out fine.


What happened to the show at the end of its first season?

Surprisingly enough, the show was not very well-liked when it debuted, and the network canceled it after one season. One of the producers begged the network and sponsors to reconsider. On the strength of the popularity of summer reruns, they brought it back for season two, which did much better.


What did Mary Tyler Moore notably object to in the show's scripts?

Scripts had called for Moore to be doing housework like vacuuming in high heels and skirts, which she refused to do, feeling it was unrealistic to present a mother that way. Instead, she wore Capri pants, something unheard of on television previously.


What was the name of Buddy's wife?

The character of Buddy Sorrel was married to a woman named Fiona Conway Sorrell but better known by the name Pickles. Two different actresses played the character over the show's run.


The show had an infamous disappearing and reappearing prop. What was it?

The Petries had a telephone in their kitchen but it was only in scenes in which someone was actually using the phone. If no one was making or receiving a call then it was just not there anymore.


Rob has to hose down guest star Richard Dawson in one episode. Why?

Richard Dawson, the original host of "Family Feud," guest-starred as Racey Tracy Rattigan, a British celebrity who shows up to guest host "The Alan Brady Show." Unfortunately, he has earned the name "racy" and takes an intense interest in Laura until Rob literally cools him off with some water.


In a memorable and over-the-top sight gag, Laura flies out of a closet along with thousands of what?

In an episode very much inspired by "The Twilight Zone," Rob watches a creepy sci-fi movie and fears an alien who may or may not be Danny Thomas plans to use walnuts to steal his sense of humor. Mary Tyler Moore flew out of the closet on a wave of walnuts in one of the best jokes of the episode.


The show made history for being the last show on TV to do what?

Season five of "The Dick Van Dyke" was the last of the show's seasons to be filmed in black and white, and season six was scheduled to be fulled color. The cast and crew ended it after five, however, making it the last show ever on TV to be entirely filmed in black and white from start to finish.


The theme song is fully instrumental, but there are lyrics. Who wrote them?

The never-heard lyrics to the theme song were penned by series co-star Morey Amsterdam. Amsterdam starred as Van Dyke's writing partner Buddy Sorrell. Dick Van Dyke shared the lyrics in a 2010 interview.


Do you remember Richie Petrie's middle name?

Rob and Laura's son Richie had the unusual middle name Rosebud. In one episode, Richie sees his birth certificate and asks about his middle name. His parents explain it's an acronym that means Robert, Oscar, Sam, Edward, Benjamin, Ulysses, David.


What was Laura's maiden name?

Before marrying Rob and becoming Laura Petrie, the character's maiden name was said to be Meehan. In real life, Mary Tyler Moore had just divorced from Richard Meeker, and it's said that her character's maiden name was changed from Meeker to Meehan.


How many different opening credits did the show use?

There were four different openings to the show. The first season used actual photos of the cats being sorted on a table. Later seasons alternated between three potential openings. In the first, Van Dyke's character enters the room and trips. In the second, he enters and then sidesteps the ottoman that tripped him in the first opening. In the final, he enters, sidesteps, and then trips anyway.


Do you know which famous actress Mary Tyler Moore was inspired by for her role?

Because Moore had no acting experience prior to the show, she tried to model her performance after one of her acting idols, Katharine Hepburn. In early episodes, she even used a few Hepburn turns of phrase.


Joan O'Brien shows up in an episode as one of Rob's old girlfriends. What was her name?

Jane Leighton comes to town hoping to make her mark in the world of show biz. She makes things rather awkward for Rob, including bringing up to Laura how Rob proposed to her several times when they were dating.


How many musical numbers were performed live on the show?

Despite there being a lot of singing and dancing on "The Dick Van Dyke Show," every song was pre-recorded and the actors would simply lip-sync along with it during the filming of every episode.


Rob and Laura got robbed in an elevator by a man named Lyle Francis Delp. What famous comedian played him?

Famous insult comic Don Rickles guest-starred in two episodes as Lyle Delp. In the second one, "The Alan Brady Show" went to prison to put on a show for Delp and Rob gets mistaken for a prisoner while he's there.


Carl Reiner played the character of Alan Brady. He reprised the role in 1995 on what show?

Carl Reiner won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his one-off guest spot on a 1995 episode of the sitcom "Mad About You." He was 73 at the time.


Mary Tyler Moore wasn't always the intended female lead of the show. Who was?

As it was initially written, the show focused more on life at the office for Rob Petrie than it did at home. As such, Rose Marie's character was originally intended to be the female lead. Once everyone saw how great Mary Tyler Moore was, the focus shifted.


What did Carl Reiner and the writing staff specifically avoid in the writing process for the show?

The writing staff went out of their way to not make any reference to time periods whenever possible and that included the use of popular '60s slang. The result is a show that is timeless and doesn't feel rooted in a specific era as others do.


Rob agrees to keep an eye on Buddy's German shepherd in one episode without asking Laura's opinion first. What was the dog's name?

Buddy is heading out on a long weekend vacation, but he can't take his pup with him, so Rob steps up in an underhanded way, taking the dog whose name is Larry without asking Laura. The dog scares Ritchie and keeps Laura awake.


Showrunner Carl Reiner played Alan Brady but not in the first three seasons. Why wasn't he on screen for those seasons?

You get to hear Alan Brady's voice during the first three seasons of the show but you don't see his face until season four. Carl Reiner was hoping to cast a big name actor in the role but eventually relented and took it on himself.


Do you know what request Carl Reiner made of the censors that they rejected?

Carl Reiner wanted Rob and Laura to share a bed on the show since they were a married couple and that's what married couples do. The censors disagreed and kept the couple in their own separate beds.


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