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.
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