Arlene and Dick Van Dyke to be honored with Malibu High School theater naming

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On Saturday, June 15, Dick and his cherished wife Arlene will be feted as Malibu High School names its theater after the esteemed couple while raising money for an endowment in their honor.

Arts endowment set up in couple’s honor 

Accolades are piling up for Malibu’s beloved Dick Van Dyke, who just made history as the oldest nominee and now winner of a Daytime Emmy Award. On Saturday, June 15, Dick and his cherished wife Arlene will be feted as Malibu High School names its theater after the esteemed couple while raising money for an endowment in their honor.

Jolynn Regan, co-president of Arts Angels, recalled that back in 2018 when the current senior class was in eighth grade, they performed the musical “Mary Poppins.”  

“Mr. Van Dyke was kind enough to rehearse with them,” Regan said. “He and Arlene really helped the kids.” 

When the Van Dykes attended one of the performances he got up on stage and sang the memorable “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” with the children.

“It was this beautiful moment and you could see his love for the arts and kids! He is so joyful,” Regan reminisced.  

In 2019, Van Dyke returned to MHS to emcee a talent showcase. “All the arts were represented at the show, including band, choir, orchestra and other artists,” Regan said.

It was at that time that Regan, watching the joy on Van Dyke’s face, blurted out, “Why is there not a theater in Malibu named after the Van Dykes?” 

Regan recounted Dick’s reaction, “He being a humble guy that he is said, ‘Oh, gosh, well I don’t know. That would just be amazing.’ He was so sweet about it.”

Regan, along with Arts Angels and Shark Fund parents, embarked on a mission to honor Dick and Arlene, who are both passionate about arts education for youngsters. Not only will the MHS theater be named for the couple, but a $3 million endowment is being set up and managed by the Shark Fund specifically for arts education.

The goal is for the endowment to help fund various programs at all four Malibu public schools: Webster, Malibu Elementary, and Malibu Middle and High School. The Arlene and Dick Van Dyke Endowment for the Arts “will fund everything — supplies, coaches, uniforms, music, rights to music — and that will go on as long as funds are coming in,” Regan said. “We hope forever and ever.”

The Arlene and Dick Van Dyke Theater name will transfer to the new Malibu High School campus currently under construction. “It’s a beautiful large facility,” according to Regan, who added that seats can be named and dedicated andthose too will transfer to the new arts center.

Recounting his time rehearsing with the local students, a cheerful Van Dyke, who’s been at the top of the entertainment world for an extraordinary eight decades, remarked, “I love to direct kids. They’re so responsive and they’re so anxious to learn that it’s just fun doing it.” 

“It’s a great honor to have Arlene along, the both of us,” Van Dyke said of his devoted wife of more than 12 years. “It’s just something I never would have expected.”

Arlene remarked she’s proud “to be recognized as a couple in the arts and to be a part of the Malibu community.” The singer and biggest Dick Van Dyke supporter added, “Public schools all around the country and around the world are not being funded. They’re not being prioritized as important. I think the arts are just as important as math, science, history and [people] make better human beings when they have an art background.” 

Dick elaborated, “some schools have dropped their arts program altogether, particularly theater. It’s such good training for kids for their composure and self-confidence to get up on the stage. It’s part of their education and we’re going to do a lot of that.”  

Dick Van Dyke’s stage work, particularly in musicals like his Tony-Award winning performance in “Bye Bye Birdie,” cemented his reputation as a versatile and talented performer. His ability to transition seamlessly among television, film, and stage and his longevity in the entertainment world have won him legions of fans across the globe. Van Dyke’s iconic performances in the classic “Mary Poppins” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show” continue to endear him to millions. 

In high school in Danville, Illinois, Dick recounted, he was “in every performance,” attributing that in part to the theater’s lack of a sound system. “I was the one who had a voice that would carry to the back of the theater and was taller than all the girls so I got all the parts.” The Danville auditorium is now named The Dick Van Dyke Auditorium, but at MHS, there will be The Arlene and Dick Van Dyke Theater and the humble performer is “over the moon” about it.

Tickets are still available for the June 15 gala to be hosted by Jason Alexander at Malibu High School with performances by Melissa Manchester and a host of celebrities, all to benefit the Van Dykes’ endowment and to honor the couple. Regan extended “a huge thank you to all the parents who have volunteered to make this event so amazing.” 

Although Dick has not been announced as a performer, Arlene hinted that “when there’s a stage, a spotlight and music …” As her words hung in the air, the couple happily laughed.