The Playbill Vault Celebrates Tony Award Winner Dick Van Dyke

Dick Van Dyke, who received a Tony Award for originating the role of Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie, celebrates his birthday Dec. 13. The Playbill Vault revisits his Broadway stage career.

Van Dyke made his Broadway debut as a featured player in the short-lived musical revue The Girls Against the Boys. With music by Richard Lewine and Albert Hague and sketches and lyrics by Arnold B. Horwitt, the show premiered Nov. 2, 1959, at the Alvin Theatre.  Nancy Walker and Bert Lahr headed a cast that included Annie lyricist Martin Charnin

Critics appreciated the talented array of performers but felt the show itself was unremarkable. The New York Times' Lewis Funke, who called Van Dyke an "amiable performer," claimed that without Walker and Lahr the "entertainment at the Alvin would be somewhat tedious going, indeed." The production closed after 16 performances.

Read the Playbill for The Girls Against the Boys here.

The following year, Van Dyke starred opposite Chita Rivera in the Charles Strouse-Lee Adams-Michael Stewart musical Bye Bye Birdie. The Tony-winning production opened at the Martin Beck Theatre April 14, 1960.

For his breakout performance as Albert Peterson, Van Dyke received the 1961 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He would later reprise his Broadway role in the 1963 film adaptation starring Maureen Stapleton and Janet Leigh.

Read the Bye Bye Birdie Playbill here.

In 1980 Van Dyke returned to Broadway in a revival of Meredith Willson's popular musical The Music Man. He played con man Harold Hill in a cast that included Meg Bussert as librarian Marian Paroo and Christian Slater as Winthrop.

Directed and choreographed by Michael Kidd, the production opened June 5, 1980. The critical response was that Van Dyke was good — too good, in fact, to play a crook like Harold Hill.

"He's a nimble performer," wrote Walter Kerr in his New York Times review, "but he's a straight shooter, honest from the word go, virtue spilling out of every pocket, innocence written all over him where sly graffiti should be. He's simply — and only — nice." The revival closed after 21 performances at City Center.

Read the Playbill for The Music Man here.

In 2006 Van Dyke made his final (so far) Broadway appearance as a special guest star in the stage autobiography Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life. He joined his former Bye Bye Birdie co-star Chita Rivera for four performances at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

Read the Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life Playbill here.