Comedian, Actor, Musician, Jerry Van Dyke has died at the age of 86. Born in 1931, in Danville, Illinois, Jerry Van Dyke was always known as the class clown and that would be his guiding star in life. He began his comedy career while still in high school and would continue even after joining the US Air Force, often entertaining troops with his stand-up and banjo routine. His ventures in entertainment would continue with successful stints playing his real life brother’s on screen brother in the Dick Van Dyke Show.
His career took a bit of a down-turn following that when he was fired from the Judy Garland Show in 1963. He also turned down the roll of Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island and the Deputy on The Andy Griffith Show. He would return to his stand-up routine, using his banjo skills, with continued appearances in film and television, but would not return full time until 1989 when he assumed the roll of Luther Van Dam, the beloved yet befuddled assistant in the series Coach, a roll which won him 4 consecutive Emmy nominations between 1990 and 1993.
When that show ended he would continue his appearances until his last role on television in 2015 returning as Frankie’s father on The Middle, a guest appearance he made with brother Dick once more playing brothers. A fitting return to the start of his career for the end.
In 2016 Van Dyke was involved in a car accident which would see his health decline over the following years. He passed away at his ranch in Hot Spring County, Arkansas on Friday, January 5th, 2018. No cause of death has been announced.
He has been remembered by some of those he worked with and influenced including Frankie herself, Patricia Heaton:
Much love to my wonderful TV dad #jerryvandyke and condolences to my TV dad-in-law #dickvandyke. Jerry, you were hilarious and terrifically talented – what an honor to be able to watch up close as you and your brother create your special magic. Rest In Peace Jerry… pic.twitter.com/O5Sx12vK3q
— Patricia Heaton (@PatriciaHeaton) January 6, 2018
And Brian Cranston, of Breaking Bad, who remembers a meeting years ago;
One of my first stage appearances (I was one of many child extras) was in a tv show circa 1963. The highlight of the day was watching a talented performer named Jerry Van Dyke. That awkward kid on the far left is me. He made us all laugh and was very nice. Thank you Jerry. RIP. pic.twitter.com/Zbov5RGOSx
— Bryan Cranston (@BryanCranston) January 7, 2018
Jerry Van Dyke is survived by wife Shirley Van Dyke, children Jerri Lynn and Ronald, and brother Dick Van Dyke.