Dick Van Dyke engaged at age 86

Dick Van Dyke "CBS This Morning"
Dick Van Dyke on "CBS This Morning"

At age 86, Dick Van Dyke is engaged.

"I'm telling you, I'm having the greatest retirement," Van Dyke said. "All my contemporaries are going out and playing golf. And I'm marrying a beautiful girl."

Who is that "beautiful girl"? Van Dyke's fiance's name is Arlene Silver and she's 39 years old.

After losing his longtime partner, Van Dyke is newly engaged -- not surprisingly -- to a woman with a healthy knowledge of classic TV trivia -- and a sense of humor, Lee Cowan reported on "CBS This Morning."

Pictures: Dick Van Dyke

And in retirement, Van Dyke hasn't stopped singing. Fans will be glad to know his hobby is a quartet called the Vantastix that, Cowan remarked, has kept him pretty spry.

But he's not shy about reliving the best years of his life -- they went by too fast, he says.

"I can't believe it," Van Dyke said. "I don't know where the time went. I still feel like a kid."

It's interesting to note that Van Dyke was once at the newsdesk at the "CBS Morning News" back in 1955, a young, handsome and earnest face that was fresh to television.

"Walter Cronkite was my newsman," Van Dyke recalled. "Can you believe that?"

But Van Dyke said he wasn't really suited for the job. "I was the worst. The worst," Van Dyke said. "I just was no good at it all, because live television -- things can go wrong. And they did."

When asked what went wrong, Van Dyke said, "Oh, God. I had a guy who drove a dog sled in the races. And he brought his dogs and his sled and everything...into the studio. And he said, 'Don't say 'mush.' Well, the first thing I did was clown around. And I got on the sled. I said, 'mush.' And they took off. They took down the weather set and the cooking set. I mean...everything just went."

When Cowan asked if that was Van Dyke's last day, the screen star replied, "No, it wasn't."

Now, the legendary song and dance man admits his news career was probably over before it started.

After all, his idols, Laurel and Hardy, never sat at a desk -- they wore bowlers and bowties instead.

Stan Laurel was a friend and mentor to Van Dyke -- and an inspiration for almost everything Van Dyke did. In fact, Van Dyke paid homage to Stan Laurel on his own show with a Laurel and Hardy skit.

Critics say Van Dyke's success was in large part due to that kind of experimenting, re-writing -- and frankly -- just horsing around. "Everybody came to work every day looking for a party," Van Dyke said. "That was what it was. We were a rambunctious bunch."

Rambunctious perhaps -- but realistic too -- with Mary Tyler Moore, at only 24 playing Rob Petrie's dutiful wife.

"It was the first show that showed people on television in real situations," Cowan remarked. "It wasn't 'Howdy Doody,' it wasn't goofy It was people with a real life."

"Yeah," Van Dyke said. "People thought Mary and I were married in real life. When I went out with my wife, they thought I was with a strange woman."

"The Dick Van Dyke Show" lasted for 158 episodes -- until one day in 1966. "That was the saddest day when we finally ended it," Van Dyke remembered. "We all cried."

But Dick Van Dyke's film career was already well on its way. He went on to star in Disney's "Mary Poppins" and "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," among many other films, television shows and stage performances.