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19 Delightful Quotes from Dick Van Dyke For His 91st Birthday

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Dick Van Dyke has been charming his way onto TV and movie screens since the 1950s, capturing hearts (as well as awards—he has five Emmys, a Tony, and a Grammy) in roles like comedy writer Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show and street artist Bert in Mary Poppins. (Not to mention starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Night at the Museum movies or his long-running television series Diagnosis: Murder.) In honor of his 91st birthday—Van Dyke was born on December 13, 1925—here are 19 quotes from the perennially cheerful actor who's still singing and dancing far better than the rest of us ever could.

1. ON BEING SO UPBEAT.

“It's more in my nature to be optimistic, I think. I'm one of those people who gets up on the right side of the bed in the morning. I get up and have a cup of coffee and go to the gym before I talk myself out of it because I will as anybody will.”

— From a 2015 interview with NPR

2. ON WHY THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW WAS SO SUCCESSFUL.

CBS

“Primarily Carl Reiner, who was just a genius, a comedy genius. He wrote—he didn't care how silly people got, as long as it was believable, as long as there was a reason. And they acted like human beings. And he could write. He heard our speech patterns, and could write to it. Nobody ever had to change the line. He had Mary [Tyler Moore, who played his wife] talking like Mary and me talking like myself—everybody. He was that good.”

— From a 2000 interview with Larry King

3. ON HIS FAMOUS STUMBLES.

"Of course, there's the tripping over the ottoman in the opening of the show. But I didn't realize how many different kinds of falls I did in that show. At this banquet recently, they showed a little clip of all my falls. I said, 'No wonder there's arthritis in my spine.'"

— From a 2007 feature in Esquire

4. ON AGEISM.

“Ageism is probably the last discrimination that’s accepted in this culture. I don’t understand it. So many people are more afraid of old age than they are of dying, I think.”

— From a 2015 interview with The A.V. Club

5. ON BEING AN AVERAGE JOE.

Van Dyke in 1967 // Getty

"...A gentleman came up [to me] and said he had been surprised by the way I acted. I asked what he meant. He said I didn't act like a star, or anything, I seemed like just a normal, middle-class guy … This may sound funny, but, you know, I guess I am."

— From a 1967 interview with Roger Ebert

6. ON DEATH, RELIGION AND COMEDY.

“The day that Stan Laurel died, the press came by my house to interview me about him. As I'm talking, a sprinkler spout that I was standing over burst. Water shot up and just drenched me. I looked up to the sky. It was obviously his last bit of comedy. If that won't give you religion, what will?”

— From a 2007 feature in Esquire

7. ON NAPPING.

“I take a nap every afternoon just like a child, and I highly recommend this refreshing break in the day to you and everyone else. Most of South America and Europe do the same thing. Try it.”

— From his 2015 memoir Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging

8. ON CHOOSING ROLES.

While filming 1968's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang // Getty

“I decided, when I started having kids, that I’d try not to do anything that I wouldn’t be proud for them to see. I’ve kind of stuck with that, and I don’t regret that at all, although I’ve lost money and passed up a lot of projects because of it. But I feel good about that.”

—From a 2011 interview with The A.V. Club

9. ON HIS STRUGGLE WITH ALCOHOLISM.

“I went to all the rehab and all that kind of thing … I just said, 'I got to get rid of it. Please take it away.' Slowly it started to make me a little sick, a little dizzy. All of a sudden, I didn't want it anymore, which is wonderful.”

— From a 2015 interview with Entertainment Tonight

10. ON HIS DEFINITION OF REAL LOVE.

“Real love, as I have come to know it, is when you care about the other person as much as you care about yourself. You can't make another person happy, but you can pave the way for them to make themselves happy.”

—From his 2015 memoir Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging

11. ON HOW TO STAY YOUNG.

“My first caution to everyone is: Do not start going down steps sideways. It feels good for the knees but the spine starts getting thrown off, and before you know it, you're on a walker. Go down the stairs front ways, and it'll be uncomfortable, your knees will hurt, but by God you'll save your life.”

—From a 2015 interview with Senior Living Guide

12. ON PLASTIC SURGERY.

“All that nipping and tucking doesn't make you look younger—only stranger. My advice? Let the outside sag and wrinkle; change what's on the inside.”

— From his 2015 memoir Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging

13. ON UNCERTAINTY.

“I've made peace with insecurity. You have to. Because there is no certainty of any kind. Once you let go, it's really freeing.”

—From a 2007 feature in Esquire

14. ON PLAYING BERT IN MARY POPPINS.

"That's the best thing I ever did. It was hard, hard work, but I loved doing it."

—From a 2011 interview with USA Today

15. ON THE POWER OF A POSITIVE ATTITUDE.

“So much of life is about attitude—or, more accurately, having a good attitude. In terms of the death of friends and loved ones, attitude takes a backseat to being practical, to opening your heart and being practical about the fact that everyone lives and dies, and although we don't get to choose the way we die, we do have a big say in the way we live.”

— From his 2015 memoir Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging

16. ON GROWING UP DURING THE DEPRESSION.

"I remember my parents having some heated arguments about unpaid bills, and which bills to pay. They went in and out of debt and periodically got a second mortgage on the furniture. I wasn’t aware of any hardship and never felt the stigma of having to watch every nickel. Everybody was poor. Actually, we had it better than most."

—From his 2011 memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business

17. ON HIS CHILDHOOD AND BEING A GOOD KID.

"I was a solid student. I was strong in English and Latin, but I got lost anytime the subject included math. I wish I had paid more attention to biology and science in general, subjects that came to interest me as an adult. I could have gotten better marks, but I never took a book home, never did homework. Come to think of it, neither of my parents ever looked at any of my report cards. They thought I was a good kid—and looking back, I guess I was."

—From his 2011 memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business

18. ON HOW COMEDY HAS EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS.

“I think comedy’s morphed pretty well over the years … I think it’s changed, not necessarily for the better, because primarily … We used to get 27, 28 minutes to do a story in, and now they’re lucky if they get 18 or 20 minutes. So I don’t think they can really do a beginning, a middle, and an end anymore. There’s an awful lot of one-line jokes; almost every line is a punchline. It’s not the same, but there’s still good comedy around.”

—From a 2011 interview with The A.V. Club

19. ON HIS "BAD" COCKNEY ACCENT IN MARY POPPINS.

"British people have never left me off the hook … They just tease me to death."

— From a 2010 interview with the Los Angeles Times

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15 Fun Facts About Army of Darkness
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

On February 19, 1993, Army of Darkness—the third installment in Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell's Evil Dead franchise—made its way into U.S. theaters. You probably know all about Ash’s boomstick, but on the occasion of the hilarious horror comedy's 25th anniversary, it's worth a closer look.

1. ARMY OF DARKNESS ISN'T THE ENTIRE TITLE.

The film’s title is stylized onscreen as Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness. This phrasing was Sam Raimi’s homage to the defunct Hollywood tradition of putting stars’ names in movie titles (like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein)—but the studio feared the long title would confuse moviegoers, so it was shortened for official purposes to just Army of Darkness.

2. EVEN THE SHORTER TITLE WASN'T RAIMI'S FIRST CHOICE.

Army of Darkness is the third installment of the Evil Dead series and the first to take place during the Middle Ages. Raimi’s original title for Army of Darkness was The Medieval Dead.

3. BRIDGET FONDA FINALLY GOT TO WORK WITH RAIMI.

Bridget Fonda makes a cameoas Ash’s girlfriend Linda during the beginning flashback sequence. She is the third actress in three films to play Linda (following actresses Betsy Baker and Denise Bixler). Fonda—a huge Evil Dead II fan—had originally auditioned to be in Raimi’s previous film, Darkman, but didn’t get the part.

4. ASH'S CAR HAD A LOT OF SCREEN EXPERIENCE.

The 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 allegedly appears in all of Sam Raimi’s films.

5. DARKMAN MADE ARMY OF DARKNESS POSSIBLE.

Raimi wanted to make Army of Darkness immediately following 1987’s Evil Dead II, but he struggled to find funding to finish his trilogy. The financial success of Raimi’s 1990 film, Darkman, eventually convinced Universal Studios to split the $12 million budget with executive producer Dino De Laurentiis.

6. A SUBTLE SCIENCE FICTION REFERENCE PLAYS A KEY ROLE.

The words Ash must utter to safely retrieve the Necronomicon (“Klaatu verata nikto”) are actually a variation on a phrase from the original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. In that film, “Klaatu barada nitko” is the phrase one must say to stop the robot Gort from destroying Earth.

7. THE SKELETON DEADITES WERE AN HOMAGE.

Their design is a tribute to visual effects legend Ray Harryhausen.

8. THE STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN MAKES AN APPEARANCE.

Billy Bryan, the actor who portrays the second monster in the medieval pit, also portrayed the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters.

9. SAM RAIMI'S BROTHER WORE A LOT OF HATS.

Ted Raimi—who makes cameos in all of his brother’s films—appears as three different background characters in Army of Darkness. He is first seen as a sympathetic villager, then as a dying soldier during the final battle, and, finally, as an S-Mart employee in the last scene.

10. RAIMI HAD TO FIGHT FOR AN R-RATING.

In keeping with the gory first two films in the series, Army of Darkness received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. It was subsequently bumped down to an R rating after the filmmakers pointed out that the ostensible gore in the film was happening to skeletons.

11. PLAYING EVIL ASH WAS TOUGH FOR CAMPBELL.

It took makeup artists three hours to get Campbell ready for shooting.

12. RAIMI STORYBOARDED EVERY SINGLE SHOT IN THE MOVIE HIMSELF.

About 25 shots in the final battle are taken from storyboards originally used in the 1948 Victor Fleming film Joan of Arc, which were brought to Raimi’s attention by visual effects supervisor William Mesa. Mesa got them from a friend, who got them from Fleming himself.

13. THERE'S AN EASTER EGG FOR TREKKIES.

Star Trek fans will recognize the location where Ash learns the “Klaatu verata nikto” incantation. The scene was shot at the iconic Vasquez Rocks in Agua Dulce, California, where the famous “Arena” episode from Star Trek was also shot. The movie also shot in the Bronson Canyon area of Griffith Park in Los Angeles that served as the Batcave for the 1960s Batman television show.

14. THE STUDIO CHANGED THE ENDING.

Bruce Campbell stars in 'Army of Darkness' (1992)
Universal Pictures

The original conclusion of the film—which Universal Studios deemed too negative—featured Ash taking too much potion to get back to the present day and waking up in a future, post-apocalyptic London. The ending can be seen on subsequent director’s cuts of home video versions of Army of Darkness.

15. EVEN AFTER YEARS OF TRYING, A SEQUEL NEVER MATERIALIZED.

Beginning in 2015, Bruce Campbell reprised his role as Ash in the Ash vs Evil Dead TV series. While fans of the Evil Dead franchise love it, Raimi spent years trying to get a sequel to Army of Darkness off the ground. On the commentary track for the first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead, Raimi even shared a few of the discarded ideas he had for the film.

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6 Times There Were Ties at the Oscars
getty images (March and Beery)/ istock (oscar)
getty images (March and Beery)/ istock (oscar)

Only six ties have ever occurred during the Academy Awards' near-90-year history. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) members vote for nominees in their corresponding categories; here are the six times they have come to a split decision.

1. BEST ACTOR // 1932

Back in 1932, at the fifth annual Oscars ceremony, the voting rules were different than they are today. If a nominee received an achievement that came within three votes of the winner, then that achievement (or person) would also receive an award. Actor Fredric March had one more vote than competitor Wallace Beery, but because the votes were so close, the Academy honored both of them. (They beat the category’s only other nominee, Alfred Lunt.) March won for his performance in horror film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Beery won for The Champ (writer Frances Marion won Best Screenplay for the film), which was remade in 1979 with Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight. Both Beery and March were previous nominees: Beery was nominated for The Big House and March for The Royal Family of Broadway. March won another Oscar in 1947 for The Best Years of Our Lives, also a Best Picture winner. Fun fact: March was the first actor to win an Oscar for a horror film.

2. BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT // 1950

By 1950, the above rule had been changed, but there was still a tie at that year's Oscars. A Chance to Live, an 18-minute movie directed by James L. Shute, tied with animated film So Much for So Little. Shute’s film was a part of Time Inc.’s "The March of Time" newsreel series and chronicles Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing putting together a Boys’ Home in Italy. Directed by Bugs Bunny’s Chuck Jones, So Much for So Little was a 10-minute animated film about America’s troubling healthcare situation. The films were up against two other movies: a French film named 1848—about the French Revolution of 1848—and a Canadian film entitled The Rising Tide.

3. BEST ACTRESS // 1969

Probably the best-known Oscars tie, this was the second and last time an acting award was split. When presenter Ingrid Bergman opened up the envelope, she discovered a tie between newcomer Barbra Streisand and two-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn—both received 3030 votes. Streisand, who was 26 years old, tied with the 61-year-old The Lion in Winter star, who had already been nominated 10 times in her lengthy career, and won the Best Actress Oscar the previous year for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Hepburn was not in attendance, so all eyes fell on Funny Girl winner Streisand, who wore a revealing, sequined bell-bottomed-pantsuit and gave an inspired speech. “Hello, gorgeous,” she famously said to the statuette, echoing her first line in Funny Girl.

A few years earlier, Babs had received a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, but didn’t win. At this point in her career, she was a Grammy-winning singer, but Funny Girl was her movie debut (and what a debut it was). In 1974, Streisand was nominated again for The Way We Were, and won again in 1977 for her and Paul Williams’s song “Evergreen,” from A Star is Born. Four-time Oscar winner Hepburn won her final Oscar in 1982 for On Golden Pond.

4. BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE // 1987

The March 30, 1987 telecast made history with yet another documentary tie, this time for Documentary Feature. Oprah presented the awards to Brigitte Berman’s film about clarinetist Artie Shaw, Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got, and to Down and Out in America, a film about widespread American poverty in the ‘80s. Former Oscar winner Lee Grant (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1976 for Shampoo) directed Down and Out and won the award for producers Joseph Feury and Milton Justice. “This is for the people who are still down and out in America,” Grant said in her acceptance speech.

5. BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION) // 1995

More than 20 years ago—the same year Tom Hanks won for Forrest Gump—the Short Film (Live Action) category saw a tie between two disparate films: the 23-minute British comedy Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and the LGBTQ youth film Trevor. Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi wrote and directed the former, which stars Richard E. Grant (Girls, Withnail & I) as Kafka. The BBC Scotland film envisions Kafka stumbling through writing The Metamorphosis.

Trevor is a dramatic film about a gay 13-year-old boy who attempts suicide. Written by James Lecesne and directed by Peggy Rajski, the film inspired the creation of The Trevor Project to help gay youths in crisis. “We made our film for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider,” Rajski said in her acceptance speech, which came after Capaldi's. “It celebrates all those who make it through difficult times and mourns those who didn’t.” It was yet another short film ahead of its time.

6. BEST SOUND EDITING // 2013

The latest Oscar tie happened only three years ago, when Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall beat Argo, Django Unchained, and Life of Pi in sound editing. Mark Wahlberg and his animated co-star Ted presented the award to Zero Dark Thirty’s Paul N.J. Ottosson and Skyfall’s Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers. “No B.S., we have a tie,” Wahlberg said to the crowd, assuring them he wasn’t kidding. Ottosson was announced first and gave his speech before Hallberg and Baker Landers found out that they were the other victors.

It wasn’t any of the winners' first trip to the rodeo: Ottosson won two in 2010 for his previous collaboration with Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing); Hallberg previously won an Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing for Braveheart in 1996, and in 2008 both Hallberg and Baker Landers won Best Achievement in Sound Editing for The Bourne Ultimatum.

Ottosson told The Hollywood Reporter he possibly predicted his win: “Just before our category came up another fellow nominee sat next to me and I said, ‘What if there’s a tie, what would they do?’ and then we got a tie,” Ottosson said. Hallberg also commented to the Reporter on his win. “Any time that you get involved in some kind of history making, that would be good.”

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