Inside Dick Van Dyke's Shaky Romantic Life

Jordan Claes
Dick Van Dyke and Arlene Silver cutting their wedding cake.
instagram | @bijoubox

Dick Van Dyke is among the very last of old Hollywood's song and dance men. The multi-faceted award-winning actor has been captivating audiences with his quintessential nice guy demeanor for seven decades.

When audiences think of Dick, they harken back to his time spent on the set of Mary Poppins and The Dick Van Dyke Show and are often quick to overlook the man behind the mask. hardly anyone talks about his romantic endeavors, which over the years have proven to be a little shaky.

Long before Dick Van Dyke stepped in front of a camera or onto a stage, he dreamt of being a soldier.

Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore in 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.

Dick quit high school in 1944 (his senior year) in order to enlist as a fighter pilot in the US Army.

Though he made several attempts, Dick was denied entry into the army on at least three occasions.

Dick Van Dyke screaming at his hands in 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.

Dick was incredibly skinny for his age and the Army recruiters didn't think it sensible to send an underweight teen into battle.

He was eventually accepted into the Army as a radio announcer and later transferred to Special Services where he helped entertain the troops.

Dick Van Dyke giving the A-OK symbol in 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.
Giphy |

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, for if Dick had been accepted as a combat pilot, he might never have met his first love and future wife — Margie Willett.

Van Dyke married Margie Willett on the radio show 'Bride and Groom' in 1948.

Dick Van Dyke dressed like Sherlock Holmes with his first wife, Margie Willett.
Getty Images | Getty Images | Express

The couple would go on to have four children together: Christian, Barry, Stacy, and Carrie Beth. Although their marriage seemed picture perfect, trouble was slowly brewing beneath the surface.

In 1960, Dick's big break came in the form of a classic Broadway musical.

Chita Rivera and Dick Van Dyke in 'Bye Bye Birdie'.
Columbia Pictures | Columbia Pictures

Dick was cast to play Albert F. Peterson, a role that would eventually go on to net him a Tony Award. But behind the curtain, Dick was in the midst of a long and troublesome battle with alcoholism.

In 1961, Dick was given the reigns to his own TV show, aptly titled 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.

Dick Van Dyke face-palming.
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It was around this time that Dick simultaneously checked himself into a treatment center for alcohol-related issues, where he stayed for three weeks.

The pressure had started to become too much for his wife, Margie Willett, and in 1972 she too sought treatment for addiction.

Dick Van Dyke as Bert in 'Mary Poppins'.
Disney | Disney

Willet checked herself into the very same hospital in order to ween herself off of prescription pills. She began making more frequent trips to the couple's desert ranch, in order to maintain her sobriety.

With his wife's trips becoming more and more frequent, Dick began spending time with Michelle Triola.

Dick Van Dyke and Michelle Triola attend 15th Annual Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards on April 2, 1984
Getty Images | Getty images | Ron Galella

At that time, Michelle was working as a secretary for Dick's agent. "She was easy to talk to, she understood me," Dick wrote in his 2012 memoir, "My Lucky Life In And Out Of Show Business."

"I was drawn into a relationship. I was involved with a woman other than my wife," Van Dyke stated bluntly.

Dick Van Dyke in 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'.
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"It was unbelievable. I was writhing in guilt. By 1976 I had to do something," Dick explained. "I needed to be honest."

Dick and Margie filed for separation that year but didn't actually divorce until 1984.

The years passed by and then in 2008, Willett passed away suddenly from pancreatic cancer — something that Dick said deeply affected him then and to this day.

"Even though we were long divorced, with her death I lost a part of myself," he wrote remorsefully.

Dick Van Dyke kissing Emily Blunt on stage.
Giphy | IMDb

In a cruel and ironic twist of fate, Van Dyke's longtime partner, Michelle Triola, died of lung cancer within one year of Willett's passing.

Michelle spent her last week on earth in a coma, and Dick visited her every day.

Dick Van Dyke and Zach Braff in 'Scrubs'.

The doctor informed Dick that although she was non-responsive, Michelle could still hear him — so he sat by her side, singing and talking to her until she silently passed.

A little more than three years later, Dick married makeup artist, Arlene Silver.

Arlene Silver and Dick van Dyke cut their wedding cake.
instagram | @bijoubox

Dick and Arlene's first meeting took place during the 2006 SAG Awards. At the time, she was 40 years old whereas Dick was more than 46 years her senior.

In 2020, Dick sat down with 'Closer Weekly' to gush and discuss his relationship with Arlene.

Dick Van Dyke dancing with penguins in 'Mary Poppins'.
Giphy | Old Hollywood Films

"She's just delightful, a great cook, and a woman of great patience," he said. "She's given me a third life, and I'm tickled to death with it."

This past Valentine's Day, Dick and Arlene set the internet ablaze with their sultry cover of Doris Day's "Everybody Loves A Lover."

Dick and Arlene's love is living proof that age is just a number, and that nothing is impossible so long as you have a smile on your face and a song in your heart.