The writers' office where Rob works is a recreation of the writers' bullpen from Your Show of Shows (1950), where Carl Reiner worked as a writer. The character Rob is based on Reiner and the character Buddy Sorrell is based on then-television comedy writer Mel Brooks. The character of Alan Brady was based on Sid Caesar.
A small controversy occurred because of Mary Tyler Moore wearing Capri pants on the show. Up until the show's premiere most housewives were seen in dresses, but Moore's explanation was that most of the housewives she knew wore pants. Because of Moore, Capri pants became a huge fashion craze in the early 1960s.
Laura usually wore Capri pants on the show. The network was against this at first, and said that she had to be in a skirt for a certain number of scenes per episode. To fight this, they filmed a scene where Laura walked into the kitchen in Capri pants and came out a second later in a skirt. The network finally relented.
For the first few years of the show, Alan Brady's face was never shown but his voice was heard, because Carl Reiner wanted to get a big star to play Alan. Reiner eventually decided to take on the role himself as an egotistical star.
Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore played a married couple so convincingly on the show that many viewers actually thought they were married in real life. They did in fact become very close - "like siblings", as Dick Van Dyke said - and both admit they had crushes on each other while the show was in production. They have remained close friends ever since.
According to Dick Van Dyke, viewers used to make bets (during the opening credits of seasons 2, 3, 4 & 5) on whether or not Rob Petrie would stumble over the Ottoman, when walking into the door of his house.
The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961) was the last show to have its entire run filmed in black and white. The show was due to be shot in color after the fifth season, but never happened because of the cast and producers' decision to end the show after five seasons.
The series originally was to focus on Rob at the office with Sally Rogers as the lead female character and Laura as a minor one. The character of Laura became so popular that Mary Tyler Moore became the lead female character and more of the focus of the show shifted to the relationship between Rob and Laura. Many times situations at the office were still focused on Rob and Laura. This put a strain on the relationship between Rose Marie and Mary Tyler Moore, and while the two ladies got along well, they never became close friends.
Dick Van Dyke took a big chance agreeing to do this show because in order to do it, he had to leave the Broadway hit show "Bye Bye Birdie" for which he won a Tony Award. If the show was not a hit, he would been out of work.
Dick Van Dyke was granted a one-week leave from "Bye Bye Birdie" to film the series' debut. During his absence, understudy Charles Nelson Reilly filled in. When Van Dyke left "Bye Bye Birdie" permanently in April of 1961, he was succeeded by future host of The Match Game (1962), Gene Rayburn. Van Dyke was so nervous about filming the debut that he developed a cold sore on his upper lip, requiring additional makeup to cover it up, and he admits he cannot recall President John F. Kennedy being inaugurated on the same day the series' filming began.
CBS cancelled the show after one season, then renewed it. When the show finally did go off the air, it was because the cast and producers wanted to quit while they were still proud of it. In addition, Carl Reiner said at the very beginning that the show would not run for more than five years.
Carl Reiner would often ask cast and crew members about funny things that had happened to them, then he would write whole episodes about these occurrences. As a result, many of the episodes over the course of the show's five-year run were based on actual events.
During filming for the weeks that the makers of Kent cigarettes sponsored the show, free cartons of Kent cigarettes were handed out by the company to the cast and crew. Mary Tyler Moore, then a heavy smoker but since quit, would take her cartons and the ones of non-smoking crew members and trade them in at a local store for cartons of her preferred brand.
In the 1959 television pilot "Head of the Family" which eventually became the basis for the show, Carl Reiner played the Rob Petrie, Barbara Britton played Laura Petrie, and Sylvia Miles played Sally Rogers.
When CBS canceled the show after one season, Sheldon Leonard traveled to Procter & Gamble's main headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, to make a personal plea for sponsorship, hoping it would sway CBS toward renewal. Procter & Gamble agreed to sponsor half a season. Eventually, Lorillard Tobacco Company, makers of Kent Cigarettes, agreed to pick up the other half, and the show was picked up by CBS for a second season. Ironically, when the show went off the air on its own five years later, CBS was doing the pleading for the show to continue.
The task of casting Laura proved to be the most difficult. About 60 actresses auditioned for the role before Mary Tyler Moore was chosen. She almost didn't go to the audition, but was persuaded by her agent.
According to Morey Amsterdam, the show was scheduled to return for the 1966-1967 season and was going to be seen in color for the first time. However, the plan was scrapped when Dick Van Dyke decided he had enough. This contradicts Carl Reiner, who is on record as saying the decision to end the series was his alone. In any event, Reiner made it clear that he would not be returning as producer after the fifth season, and the consensus opinion was that it would have been impossible to do the show without him.
In the series, Dick Van Dyke's brother Jerry Van Dyke played his brother "Stacey". Stacey was in fact the name of Dick's daughter, so this was undoubtedly done at his request. Apparently leading to his his future series, My Mother the Car (1965).
In The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Last Chapter (1966), the series' last episode Rob writes his autobiography and shows it to everyone. At the end of the episode Alan decides to buy the rights to the manuscript and turn it into a TV series with him as the star after he finishes the variety series.
Two crew members' birth-dates: Dick Van Dyke & Rose Marie. Add their month number and day number, they will equal their year of birth. Rose Marie: Wednesday, August 15th, 1923. 88 + 15 = 23 (of 1923) and Dick Van Dyke: Sunday, December 13th, 1925, 12 + 13 = 25 (of 1925). 851 days (121 weeks & 4 days) differ among the two births.
The show's pilot was created by Carl Reiner and was highly autobiographical. CBS executives decided that the main character was too Jewish, too intellectual and too New York and cast Dick Van Dyke instead of Reiner.
Rose Marie "Sally Rogers" & Larry Mathews "Richie Petrie" share August 15th birthday. Rose Marie was born on Wednesday, August 15th, 1923, & Larry Mathews was born on Monday, August 15th, 1955. 32 years (11,688 days = 1,669 weeks and 5 days differ, among the two births.