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Dick Van Dyke's fans left terrified as actor receives news days before 98th birthday

The Mary Poppins star is one of Hollywood's most legendary entertainers

Dick Van Dyke arrives to the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 6, 2019© Getty Images
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
November 16, 2023
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Legendary performer Dick Van Dyke is being honored for his upcoming 98th birthday with a very special tribute, courtesy of CBS.

The network announced that next month, on December 21, they will release a special titled Dick Van Dyke 98 Years of Magic, celebrating his career spanning over six decades, beginning with his run in the original Broadway production of Bye Bye Birdie in 1961.

The special will revisit the set of The Dick Van Dyke Show (which ran from 1961-66) and will feature special guests and musical numbers, plus archival footage showcasing some of his best remembered work, including Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Dick Van Dyke's adorable first with wife Arlene Silver

The special will come just in time to ring in the beloved entertainer's 98th birthday, which falls on December 13, although the announcement left some of his fans terrified.

An Instagram post with the news featured a promotional image of the star in sepia tone, and several of his followers mistakenly believed it to be reminiscent of an obituary portrait.

Terrified fans left comments like: "Baby, don't do this to us. We still haven't recovered from Betty White," and: "DON'T EVER DO THAT TO ME AGAIN," plus: "No, you have to put text on the photo telling us he is still alive!" as well as: "Whew. My heart stopped for a second. All I was getting was the picture and not the content."

View post on Instagram

The actor himself shared in a statement: "I started with CBS under contract in 1955 with the CBS morning show, then The Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis: Murder

"I've been with the CBS family for almost 70 years, and I couldn't be prouder. I'm incredibly honored that CBS will be throwing a 98th birthday special for me. Can't wait to be part of the show!"

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An official description of the special reads: "A Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award winner, Van Dyke has inspired generations of performers and will be honored for his contributions to the arts and entertainment. 

Dick Van Dyke, US actor, poses with a variety of kites in a publicity still for the film, 'Mary Poppins', USA, 1964. The film musical, directed by Robert Stevenson, starred Van Dyke as 'Bert'.© Getty Images
Van Dyke will be honored for his legendary entertaining career

"The tribute will travel back in time to the iconic set of The Dick Van Dyke Show and feature music and dance, performances, special guests and a special holiday number." 

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It continues: "The two-hour tribute event will also showcase songs and archival footage from the best of his nearly full-century career, encompassing Mary Poppins, Bye Bye Birdie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and more."

1958:  Portrait of American comedian and actor Dick van Dyke smiling in a suit and tie.© Getty Images
His career first began in the late '50s, and he rose to fame with his Broadway start in 1961

Among Van Dyke's variety of other honors, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1995 and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012.

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He was recognized as a "Disney Legend" thanks to his turn in Mary Poppins and was recognized with the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2013 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2021.

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY - Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke, who portrays Bert, the carefree Cockney chimney sweep in Mary Poppins, will host interstitials throughout Walt Disney Television via Getty Imagess broadcast of The Wonderful World of Disney Pres© Getty Images
"I'm incredibly honored that CBS will be throwing a 98th birthday special for me. Can't wait to be part of the show!"

Dick Van Dyke 98 Years of Magic will air on CBS from 9PM – 11PM ET on Thursday, December 21st.

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