The dating dance dancing through your fifties

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Meeting an actor is often a disappointing experience – usually they bear little similarity to their roles either in looks or character. Although 87, he still has so much exuberance and charm that, when we meet at his Malibu home, it is almost as though Bert the chimney sweep has stepped off the set of Mary Poppins.

Or Caractacus Potts from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has sprung back to life.

Later I was doing a murder mystery and I hired her as my make-up artist.

It just grew from there.” Silver, who is attractive with shoulder-length brown hair, comes into the room and sits down.

“My first wife, Margie, used to say she could see no difference between Rob [the husband he played on The Dick Van Dyke Show for five years] and me. You are exactly the same on screen as you are at home.’” His apparently effortless brand of deadpan humour – plus a talent for pratfalls – became his trademark, and made The Dick Van Dyke Show a sensation.“We had a little ranch way out in the middle of nowhere. And now another 40 years have gone by and I’ve been very busy.My wife didn’t like showbusiness – as most spouses don’t: they get shunted aside. I could not afford either emotionally or financially to quit and retire. I still am.” For many years afterwards he lived with Michelle Triola, an actress, until her death from lung cancer in 2009. “I’d go to the movies and find myself talking to strangers. I never even had a bachelorhood: I went straight from my parents’ home to a marriage.” His solitude following Triola’s death was not long-lived.And I’ve never studied acting – which is maybe lucky otherwise I’d just be a copy of everybody else.” Endlessly self-deprecating, Van Dyke refuses to see his career as anything other than one long string of lucky breaks.Indeed his autobiography, published in 2011, was titled My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business – although frankly it is hard to spot a time when he was out of it.

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