Why Dick Van Dyke Never Appeared on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ but His Brother Did

Mary Tyler Moore is famous for her role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but the actor got her start in a different sitcom. Her part on The Dick Van Dyke Show made her a star. So, why did her friend and former co-star Dick Van Dyke never appear in her TV series?

Mary Tyler Moore forged a new path in her ’70s sitcom

The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards and Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens
Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards and Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

The Mary Tyler Moore Show follows Mary Richards, a woman starting over in a new city and a new job after she and her fiancé break off their engagement. She becomes more confident in her role at a TV news station, makes new friends, and re-enters the dating world. 

Although her sitcom made Moore a superstar, the actor had already become a household name on The Dick Van Dyke Show. She earned praise for her comedic skills while portraying Laura Petrie, the wife of Rob Petrie, played by Van Dyke.

Why did Dick Van Dyke never guest-star on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’?

Mary Tyler Moore  and Dick Van Dyke in The Dick Van Dyke Show
Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke on ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show | CBS via Getty Images

Moore and Van Dyke became close while starring in his series, but when it came time to seek out guest stars for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the Mary Poppins actor did not get a call. Many fans wondered if the two stars had had a falling out during their time working together. 

But there’s a simple explanation for why Van Dyke never appeared on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The Dick Van Dyke Show was so hugely popular that the public forever linked its two stars as the Petries.

Producers on Moore’s new show worried that, despite the new characters and plotlines, viewers might think a Van Dyke cameo meant a return to their characters on The Dick Van Dyke Show and that the couple they played had divorced. 

“Dick Van Dyke never appeared as a guest star during the entire run,” Herbie Pilato, founder of the Classic Television Preservation Society, told Fox News in 2019. “But his brother, Jerry Van Dyke, was in a few episodes.”

Jerry played Van Dyke’s brother on The Dick Van Dyke Show, where he appeared in a few episodes. The actor showed up in two episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Jerry also had parts in dozens of other hit TV series, including Perry Mason, The Andy Griffith Show, The Love Boat, and Newhart

Dick Van Dyke admits he ‘adored’ Mary Tyler Moore and would have dated her

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Despite never appearing in Moore’s comedy series, Van Dyke had nothing but love for his former co-star. The actor even admitted he had a crush on her while working on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

“Everyone loved Mary,” he wrote in his memoir, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business. “What wasn’t to love? I adored her from the moment we were introduced. I think both of us had each other at hello.”

They were happily married to other people, so romance never bloomed between the pair. However, Van Dyke revealed that if they had been single, he and Moore would have dated