The Chimney Sweep

In the 1964 film Mary Poppins, which actor played the role of Bert, the chimney sweep?

And the answer: Dick Van Dyke.

Entertainer Dick Van Dyke has enjoyed an award-winning career that has spanned seven decades. In the 1960s, he became known for his roles in the popular musical films Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and went on to win a Tony, a Grammy, and several Primetime Emmy Awards.

Van Dyke’s prolific entertainment career actually began off-screen, as a radio DJ in Danville, Illinois. Himself and pantomime performer Phil Erikson devised a comedy duo called “Eric and the Van – the Merry Mutes” that toured around the country for several years. With a taste for the world of performance, Van Dyke went on to audition and land a part in Broadway show The Girls Against the Boys, and the lead in Bye Bye Birdie. From there, a world of television (including his namesake show, The Dick Van Dyke Show), film, and other accolades awaited.

Before entertainment, Van Dyke made several unsuccessful attempts to join the United States Air Force. Reaching 6 feet tall before the age of 12, the young performer was turned away for being too skinny, and told to "gulp down milkshakes." By the time he was allowed to enlist in 1942, Van Dyke excelled, landing a position in the special services unit, where he performed in shows and hosted a radio show.

Today, Van Dyke’s career is immortalized in 20th century American popular culture. In his autobiography, he wrote, "I suppose that I never completely gave up my childhood idea of being a minister. Only the medium and the message changed. I have still endeavored to touch people's souls, to raise their spirits and put smiles on their faces."

Read more about this iconic star here.


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