Fans dressed as Cockney chimney sweeps helped Dick Van Dyke celebrate his birthday yesterday with a surprise flash mob at The Grove in Los Angeles, California.
The event was organized to mark his 90th birthday by his wife of 3 years, Arlene Silver-Van Dyke, who he met at the SAG award ceremony in 2006.
The choreographed dancers stepped in time to a medley of memorable songs from the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins– Jolly Holiday, Chim Chim Cher-ee, Step In Time, and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
In a grand finale, Van Dyke himself came down from the balcony where he viewed the performance and led the group in sing-a-long to Let’s Go Fly a Kite.
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Known the world over for his beaming smile, physical dexterity, impeccable comic timing, and unforgettable screen roles, the actor, comedian, writer, singer, dancer, and producer starred in the films Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in the TV series The Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis Murder. Over his seven-decade career he has won Emmy, Grammy and Tony awards.
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In his 2012 memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business. he recalled the remarkable moment when he got his first big break.
In 1960 Van Dyke auditioned for a small part in Bye Bye Birdie. He had no dance experience, so after he sang his audition song he did an impromptu soft-shoe out of sheer nervousness. Gower Champion, the show’s director and choreographer, was watching, and promptly went up on stage to inform Van Dyke he had the lead role of Albert Peterson. An astonished Van Dyke protested that he could not dance, to which Champion replied “We’ll teach you”. That musical won four Tony awards including Best Featured Actor for Van Dyke.