In Memoriam: Emmy-Nominated Sitcom Star Jerry Van Dyke Dies at 86

Written Celebrating the Achievements of a Sitcom Legend by Bridger Cunningham.

And now, the sitcom world mourns another dynamic presence.  Actor Jerry Van Dyke, younger brother of fellow sitcom star Dick Van Dyke, passed away January 5, 2018 after a long ailment.  The accredited actor was born on July 27, 1931 and had been in declining health due to a road accident two years prior.  Van Dyke's resume typecast leaned toward outlandish laughs, bolstering an impressive resume of  sitcom roles.  Take a peek at his lengthy list of starring roles:

The Dick Van Dyke Show (1962-65) -- Stacey Petrie.
My Mother The Car (1965-66) -- Dave Crabtree
Accidental Family (1967-68) -- Jerry Webster
Headmaster (1970) -- Jerry Brownell
Love, American Style (1970-71) -- Various Roles
13 Queens Boulevard (1979) -- Steven Winters
Coach (1989-97) -- Luther Van Dam
Teen Angel (1997-98) -- Jerry Beauchamp
You Wish (1997-98) -- Grandpa Max
Yes, Dear (2001-05) -- Big Jimmy Hughes
The Middle (2010-15) -- Tag Spence

Notice a trend in naming conventions for Jerry's roles?  He had not one, but four self-titled roles!  That includes anthology comedy skits on Love, American Style. Van Dyke's prominent entertainment name became an attraction method producers used to draw viewers in with his marquee.  Sadly, it couldn't save these clunkers from the ax.  Van Dyke held a plethora of sitcom roles of varying success with the good (Coach), the bad (You Wish) and just plain ugh! (My Mother The Car).  Van Dyke took a hiatus from the television world in the 1970's and 1980's, opting to enjoy a career entertaining via the casino circuit, which he spoke fondly of for the remains of his career.

Following Coach, Van Dyke became typecast as the zany, entertaining grandfathers.  Most recently, he portrayed Frankie Heck's father, Tag, on The Middle via various guest appearances.  Van Dyke's ailing health evidently limited his appearances on the series, which announced its final season last summer.

Jerry Van Dyke enjoyed an enriched, diverse career in the entertainment industry.  He is survived by his 2nd wife of 40 years, Shirley, a daughter, Jeri Lynn and a son Ronald.  He was predeceased by daughter Kelly Ann Van Dyke in 1991 following her tragic suicide at age 33.


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