Arlene and Dick Van Dyke Theater named at Malibu High

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Marlilu Hamill, Mark Hamill, Tom Bergeron, Dick Van Dyke and Arlene Van Dyke. Photos by Laura Johansen.

Celebrity-filled event honors the living legend, his wife, and their endowment for the arts

Malibu High School parents put on a glittering event Saturday to honor living legend Dick Van Dyke and his wife Arlene. In a first-ever event at the school, its theater has been renamed after the couple. In gleaming letters on the public facingcampus on Morning View Drive new signage reads “The Arlene and Dick Van Dyke Theater.”

Celebrities and Malibu residents thanked the couple for their years of dedication to the arts and support for young Malibu students by giving them exposure to learning with the creation of the Arlene and Dick Van Dyke Endowment for the Arts. The afternoon gala raised seed money for an initial $3 million endowment with the help of sponsors such as Disney, CBS, The Malibu Times, IPS, and other local companies. The Van Dyke Endowment is intended to fund arts programs in all four Malibu public schools to nurture creativity, foster new talent and inspire the next generation of artists all while creating a lasting legacy for the beloved Van Dyke and his nearly unmatched 80 years entertaining the world.

TV personality Tom Bergeron said, “I have adored Dick Van Dyke since I was a kid and to be his friend now, to support causes that he supports like this endowment for the arts is like the cherry on the cake.”

“It’s a spectacular legacy for them to create this and particularly for Dick who’s a national treasure,” commented Grammy-winning artist Melissa Manchester, who performed “In the Eyes of Love” for the Van Dykes at the event. “The fact that his legacy is so secure in giving back to young students and education, it’s thrilling to be a part of it.”

Manchester, along with guest performers Peter Cincotti, magicians from the Magic Castle, and others inaugurated the newly named theater with its first performance in tribute to the the legendary showman. Opening remarks were given by Julie Andrews, recorded from her home in Switzerland.

The incomparable Jason Alexander served as Master of Ceremonies. 

“It’s extraordinary that at this beautiful young age that Dick with Arlene’s love and support is still such a citizen of our communities, of our world,” he said. “He just keeps putting out amazing things with this joyful spirit. The fact they have focused on endowing a high school is so spot on for a number of reasons.

“One is arts programs are disappearing in public schools. Almost every artist I can think of began that journey at a middle or a high school,” including himself, Alexander commented. “If those facilities, teachers, and opportunity wasn’tavailable they might not have ever taken the journey they took.”

Alexander, who names Van Dyke as a comedic influence said the first movie he ever saw was “Mary Poppins.” 

“He is the window through which we see the magic as the chimney sweep. Our portal into that world is through Burt,” Alexander said of Van Dyke’s iconic performance.

Alexander recounted a touching story of receiving a beautiful note and flowers from Van Dyke, whom he had never met,after the “Seinfeld” actor reprised Van Dyke’s Tony-winning performance of “Bye Bye Birdie” in a television production.

Actress Michelle Lee first met Van Dyke in 1969 when she co-starred with him in “The Comic.” Lee praised his performance in that Carl Reiner film as “brilliant.” The two have remained friends and the actress now embraces Arlene as a great friend, too. 

“She’s an amazing woman,” Lee said. “To watch the two of them together is startling because they’re so in love with each other. You see it. There’s such warmth. How they value their relationship.” 

Lee values the arts in Los Angeles, calling herself a product of the public school system. 

“Arts saves kids. There’s so many that don’t have it,” she said. “We need it more than ever. I’m so happy that Dick is able to give to all these schools. The Arlene and Dick Van Dyke Endowment for the Arts will benefit all four Malibu public schools.” 

Lee came to MHS to support her friend and donated a stay in her fabulous New York apartment as one of the auction items to raise money for the endowment. Lee and her friend Lawrence Piro said, “An investment in the arts builds healing and a connection to creativity that gives people wings that they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

The finale of the Saturday performance was the ever youthful 98-year-old legend singing along with his group the Vantastix for a few Van Dyke classics including a sing-a-long of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”

The Shark Fund will continue fundraising efforts to grow the Van Dyke Endowment for the Arts, aiming to reach its $3,000,000 goal. To make a donation, dedicate a seat, or for more information on how you can support the Van Dyke Endowment for the Arts visit thesharkfundmalibu.org. 

Class of 2024, toss caps at Malibu High School’s graduation on Tuesday, June 11.