Rob inherits an old roll-top desk from his late great-uncle Hezekiah that contains "wealth" of some sort hinted at in a song.



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Episode cast overview:
Rob Petrie / Hezekiah Petrie
Ritchie Petrie (credit only)
Leland Ferguson
Forrest Lewis ...
Mr. Harlow
Alfred Reinbeck
Amzie Strickland ...
Howard Wendell ...
Tiny Brauer ...
Ike Balinger


Rob and Laura attend the reading of the will left by Rob's elderly Uncle Hezekiah. After some fairly generous financial bequests are given to Rob's relatives, they are ushered out of the room, and Rob and Laura are shown a short film of Uncle Hezekiah informing Rob that he's left him his old roll-top desk; Hezekiah then sings him a chorus of "Me and My Shadow," which is supposed to be a clue to a "treasure" Hezekiah claims is hidden in the desk. Written by aldanoli

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

desk | riddle | key | clue | double role | See All (26) »


Comedy | Family






Release Date:

27 October 1965 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Since he was born in 1863 and before November 18th of that year when Abraham Lincoln visited Gettysburg to deliver his famous address, if we assume that the episode took place the same date it aired on October 27, 1965, Uncle Hezekiah would have been either 101 or 102 years old when he died. See more »


Leland Ferguson: Now, suppose we get this over with as fast as possible. These matters are never pleasant, and my wife has a roast in the oven.
See more »


References How the West Was Won (1962) See more »


Dixie (I Wish I Was in Dixie)
Written by Daniel Decatur Emmett
Performed by Dick Van Dyke (whistling)
See more »

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User Reviews

Clever, Amusing Entry Despite the Show Being in its Final Season
1 September 2017 | by (Ukiah, California) – See all my reviews

By its fifth season, one might have thought the "The Dick Van Dyke Show" would be growing tired. This was, in fact, one of the reasons that Carl Reiner announced at the end of 1964 that the fifth season would be his last. Though he had given up writing almost all of the scripts during the second and third seasons, and had even briefly passed on his producing duties to others while he was off filming "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming," he and his two stars, Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore were all eager to do other things. The two lead actors were receiving lucrative movie offers, and Reiner wanted to become a movie director.

But despite everyone knowing that the show was coming to an end, the fifth season was still one of its best. Episodes like "The Great Petrie Fortune" allowed everyone to acknowledge that, for better or worse, "The Dick Van Dyke Show" went off the air when it was still on top, while also leaving CBS, some of show's other cast members, and its viewers wanting more.

The episode begins with one of those scenes that rarely if ever happened in real life, at least by 1965. Attorneys no longer gathered the people named as heirs by a deceased relative for a dramatic reading of the will, even though it's a staple of movies and television, whether in the Disney picture "The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin" or "The Lincoln Letter," a 1970 episode of Bill Cosby's original situation comedy. (In fact, "The Lincoln Letter," which also involves a search for a valuable heirloom, may owe something to "The Great Petrie Fortune" in several of its plot points.)

Here, the episode begins with Rob and Laura being greeted at an attorney's office by a variety of Rob's greedy, distant relatives, some of whom are disappointed that they didn't get even more valuable property than they were left by Rob's Great-Uncle Hezekiah. It's a brief showcase for some familiar character actors of that era, including Amzie Strickland and Herb Vigran.

This scene leads to one of Dick Van Dyke's chances to dip into his paint pot to actually play Uncle Hezekiah in old-age makeup, in a short movie supposed filmed before Hezekiah's death -- borrowing a page from Van Dyke himself, when he played a very similar double-role as Mr. Dawes Senior in "Mary Poppins" to sing, "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank." The two portrayals have a lot in common, except that here Van Dyke got to keep his own hair, touched up with a little grey, instead of a bald cap with a white mop in "Poppins."

Uncle Hezekiah has left Rob (and Laura) an old roll-top desk wrapped up in a bit of mystery -- he tells Rob that he's bequeathing him "riches beyond compare" and then sings him a chorus of "Me and My Shadow" as a clue to what those "riches" might be. The rest of the episode is a series of very funny scenes of first Rob and Laura going through the desk hoping to find those "riches" but not wanting to emulate Rob's greedy relatives; then their inability to solve the mystery leads them to invite Buddy and Sally over to help with the sleuthing, though that's mostly an excuse for the two second bananas to trade one-liners.

Rose Marie gets to utter two lines that likely slip by most viewers today. First she suggests that maybe Uncle Hezzie "left you Ted Lewis," a reference to a singer and band leader (still alive in 1965) who often closed his shows with "Me and My Shadow." And then when Buddy asks, "shadow, shadow . . . what does that mean?" Sally cracks, "Lamont Cranston" and even does a little impression of The Shadow's laugh from the old-time radio show -- another joke that most viewers at the time would have understood, but almost no one today (except aficionados of old radio) would.

And then, after another false lead involving some old coins turns out to be a dead end, the show comes to its gentle climax, in which Rob and Laura solve the mystery almost without trying to. And in the process, they get a lesson in what Uncle Hezekiah really valued . . . and what a real treasure can be. And perhaps, in the process, viewers can discover another treasure here, too -- namely, "The Great Petrie Fortune" itself.

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