'People Thought I Was Dead:' Beloved Actor, 97, Revealed As Gnome On 'The Masked Singer'

Ashley Hunte
The Gnome sings along to When You're Smiling" by Frank Sinatra in a whimsical, confetti-filled performance.
youtube | The Masked Singer

For a whopping nine seasons and counting, The Masked Singer has brought incredible surprises episode after episode. With celebrities decked out in outlandish costumes, keeping their identities hidden until they get eliminated (or win), trying to guess who's behind the mask is part of the show's appeal.

Ahead of its ninth season premiering on Wednesday, Fox teased "the most legendary, decorated, and beloved unmasking in history." The mystery celeb, who donned the Gnome costume, was teased to be a Tony, Emmy, and Grammy winner, with the rest of their identity shrouded in mystery.

The Reveal Ended Up Being As Incredible As It Was Hyped Up To Be

97-year-old Dick Van Dyke was the first to be eliminated in The Masked Singer's ninth season.
youtube | The Masked Singer

Eliminated in the first episode, the Gnome took his mask off. He was revealed to be none other than the legendary performer, Dick Van Dyke. The 97-year-old was revealed to an enthusiastic audience and judge's panel.

Judges Nicole Scherzinger, Ken Jeong, Robin Thicke, and Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg all gave Dick Van Dyke a standing ovation, with Scherzinger even being moved to tears. The judges then began expressing their admiration for the performer. Jeong even stated that his impact on entertainment over the decades is one of the biggest reasons he decided to go into comedy in the first place.

If you missed the big moment, The Masked Singer uploaded the reveal to their YouTube channel.

Van Dyke Spoke About His Experience On 'The Masked Singer' In An Interview

An animated GIF of Dick Van Dyke in a pinstripe suit jacket and cane, dancing with cartoon penguins.

Van Dyke sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss his appearance on The Masked Singer, as well as the response he got during the reveal.

He talked about what it was like to be paraded around backstage in a hood to keep his identity hidden from the crew, as well as how he decided to perform a rendition of When You're Smiling.

He Also Discussed The Different Actors People Guessed During The Show

Dick Van Dyke spoke with Nick Cannon and the judges during his appearance on the show.
youtube | The Masked Singer

Van Dyke was very confident that no one would have guessed him on the show, because he felt that no one would have ever expected someone as old as him to agree to be on the show. Indeed, popular guesses from the judges included Dustin Hoffman, Tony Bennett, and Robert De Niro.

"I don't think they expected anybody from my generation to be on that show," he said. "So I knew I was gonna fool them. They were so surprised. I stepped out and everybody's mouths dropped open. I think some people thought I was dead."

Van Dyke Went On To Talk About The Incredible Reaction He Got During The Reveal

In a suit, standing next to the Gnome costume, Dick Van Dyke addresses the audience.
youtube | The Masked Singer

With an audience of all ages cheering and applauding, and Nicole Scherzinger moved to tears at the sight of him, it's safe to say that Dick Van Dyke is as beloved now as he's ever been.

When asked if he gets that kind of reaction a lot, Van Dyke said, "I have had that happen, yes. You know what is fun now? We're on our third generation and I would get little kids who will see me and say, 'It's [his Mary Poppins character] Bert!' And I love that, that kids are just discovering those movies now."