Malibu’s beloved Dick Van Dyke lit up the internet and melted hearts this week with a surprise appearance on the wacky television show “The Masked Singer.”
The popular show, where disguised celebrities in elaborate costumes sing for judges who try to guess their real identities, opened its ninth season this week with the astonishing reveal of the legendary Van Dyke, its oldest contestant ever.
The legendary showman has an enduring appeal he’s built up over the longevity of his unprecedented seven-decade career. The 97-year-old enjoys a fan base that spans generations due to his iconic performances in his classic eponymous TV sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Night at the Museum,” and, of course, his indelible role as Bert the chimney sweep in “Mary Poppins,” among others. His memorable performance in “Mary Poppins” and its recent sequel “Mary Poppins Returns” has endeared Van Dyke into the hearts of millions of children who grew up cherishing the Disney classic.
The adoration for the comedic performer on “The Masked Singer” was so overwhelming it brought at least one judge and audience members to tears and on their feet.
In what can only be described as an over-the-top performance, it began with cast members wheeling out a giant elaborate gnome whose identity was concealed under the outrageous costume. Performers danced in festive Mardi Gras styled costumes along with confetti and balloons while the Gnome (spoiler alert, Van Dyke) sang “When You’re Smiling.”
Clues were given about the Gnome’s comedy and singing bona fides. His disguised voice said he had earlier in his career performed with music legends Madonna and Lin-Manuel Miranda and that his address book includes former presidents and President Biden, who met with him when the celebrated entertainer was awarded a Kennedy Center honor two years ago. In a clue, the Gnome said, “There’s always more to do especially when you work just for the fun of it,” which very much seems Van Dyke’s intention of appearing on the show he claimed he never watched before. He added, “Being a true entertainer isn’t about money or awards. It’s about going to bed every night having put a smile on someone’s face and being proud of what you’ve done.”
During the show’s exciting reveal of the Tony, Grammy and multiple Emmy Award-winning actor, the show’s host Nick Cannon stated, “We are in the presence of an icon,” as the crowd roared went wild with cheers and applause. “He’s the most seasoned and decorated entertainer we’ve ever had on the show.”
When asked what is was like being the Gnome, the ever-entertaining Van Dyke answered with light-hearted humor, “It was really dark in there. You couldn’t see anything!” The still spry nonagenarian commented he was amused that one judge thought the Gnome was Robert De Niro. Two celebrity judges voted it was Malibu resident Dustin Hoffman, and another thought the masked singer was Tony Bennett.
Through tears, judge Nicole Scherzinger said, “I love you so much. We love you. The whole world loves you so much. It’s such an honor to have you on our show. I can’t believe you’re here. You look so gorgeous. You look so handsome.”
Comedic actor Ken Jeong, another judge, praised Van Dyke saying, “You’re one of the reasons I got into comedy. You are comedy.” The Malibu resident of more than four decades seemed delighted to participate on the show blowing kisses to his admirers who shouted, “You’re the GOAT” and “You’re our childhood.”
After the show Van Dyke commented, “It was the weirdest experience I think I’ve ever had, and it looked like fun to me which it was. I did it because I knew that nobody would have ever guessed they’d have a 97-year-old guy on there.”
On a show that prides itself on some over the top and outlandish guest performers.
Jeong concluded, “Our greatest reveal ever.” Host Cannon told the performer, “You gave a legendary performance and you made the whole world smile once again.”