Happy 56th Anniversary! The Dick Van Dyke Show debuted on CBS on this date in 1961!

The Dick Van Dyke Show, created by Carl Reiner debuted on October 3, 1961 on CBS.  Starring Dick Van Dyke, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Mathews, and Mary Tyler Moore, the show went on to win an impressive total of 15 Emmy awards.

            In the below chapter from "Why & When The Dick Van Dyke Show Was Born,” Carl Reiner explains the beginnings of the Dick Van Dyke show.

                                                Ruinously Rotten Ratings

            In 1962, for reasons not too difficult to fathom, the ratings for the first season of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” were much lower than our competitor Perry Como and his very popular variety show. The word ‘cancellation,” hung over heads like the sword of Damocles.

            The network executives, requiring shows to fill their summer schedule, offered us six thousand dollars per episode to re-run our shows.

            Sheldon Leonard, after discussions with the accounting department, decided that, financially, their deal was not worth considering.

            Here, Sheldon and I had our first disagreement- a major one that provoked me to come very close to shouting.

            “Sheldon,” I argued, “the only reason our ratings were bad was that were competing with ‘The Perry Como Show,” the highest rated program on television.”

            Perry Como was a very handsome Italian gent who sang ballads in a silky smooth, baritone-tenor voice that melted the hearts of both men and women.

            “And as for the six thousand dollar offer,” I said, “I’d be willing to give the network the shows for nothing! I’m sure that during the summer when ‘The Perry Como Show,’ is on hiatus, the public will at least give our show a look- I know that whoever sees it will be hooked and tell their friends about it!”

            Sheldon Leonard, gent that he was, graciously let me have my way- and the rest, as they say is history. 

To read more about the creation and behind-the-scenes stories of the Dick Van Dyke Show, order your personalized copy today

Carl Reiner Interviewed by Radio Host Paul Harris

"Carl Reiner, Now You're 94"

Comedy legend Carl Reiner returned to the Paul Harris Show to talk about his new graphic diary, "Carl Reiner, Now You're 94," as well as some other highlights of his career and life: His memories of the late Mary Tyler Moore; Working with Alan Arkin on "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming"; Working with director Norman Jewison on that movie and "The Thrill Of It All"; Why he cast George Burns and John Denver in "Oh, God!"; How he managed to work on movies at the same time he was running "The Dick Van Dyke Show"; That time he and his wife stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House. Listen, then click here to subscribe to the Paul Harris Show podcasts via iTunes!