The Truth About Dick Van Dyke’s First Wife

Dick Van Dyke is a timeless icon. Beloved by generations of filmgoers, Van Dyke is perhaps best known for portraying the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins…across 40 years! According to IMDb, Van Dyke has been acting since 1957, and starred opposite Mary Tyler Moore in his eponymous sitcom. From Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to The Carol Burnett Show, Van Dyke is a big (and small) screen legend. 

As charismatic as he is onscreen, it’s clear Van Dyke also wowed offscreen. He has been married twice, with his second wife Arlene Silver a whopping 46 years his junior. Their union simply proves how young at heart Van Dyke is! “We don’t feel the age gap,” Van Dyke joked to The Guardian. “I’m emotionally immature and Arlene is very wise for her age, so we meet in the middle.” The duo tied the knot on Leap Year 2012, and Van Dyke told Parade it was “one of the best things” he’s ever done. 

But what about his first wife? Keep scrolling to find out about the mother of Van Dyke’s children, and what went wrong in their marriage that led to divorce. 

Dick Van Dyke was married to Margie Willett for almost four decades before cheating on her

Dick Van Dyke was wed to longtime love Margie Willett in Feb. 1948. The couple had four children together before their marriage fell apart. Per Country Living, Van Dyke checked himself into rehab in 1972 for alcoholism; Merritt later went to the same rehabilitation center for prescription drug dependency. Van Dyke detailed his recovery in memoir Keep Moving, and Merritt relocated to their family ranch for her own journey to sobriety. Van Dyke began an extramarital affair with his agent’s secretary Michelle Triola. “I was involved with a woman other than my wife. It was unbelievable. I was writhing in guilt,” Van Dyke later penned. 

Van Dyke and Willett officially divorced in 1984, eight years after Van Dyke opened up about his infidelity to Merritt and separated. Merritt died of pancreatic cancer in 2008. “Even though we were long divorced, with her death I lost a part of myself,” Van Dyke wrote. He stayed with Triola until her death in 2009. By 2012, Van Dyke married Arlene Silver, and the rest is history. 

Van Dyke didn’t get just one love of his life: he was lucky enough to have three!

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