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From Stage to Page, Advice and Humor as a Showbiz Legend Turns 90

Book of the Month: December 2015

In our book for December, we celebrate Dick Van Dyke’s 90th birthday with a look at his new memoir about aging with flexibility and wit.Actor, comedian, and song-and-dance legend Dick Van Dyke will turn 90 years old this December 13. With career hits on stage, film, and television (highlights include Bye Bye Birdie, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Poppins, and Diagnosis: Murder), Van Dyke has been receiving lifetime achievement honoraria since the 1990s — although it hasn’t stopped him from consistently working to this day, with seemingly tireless enthusiasm that defies his age.

In anticipation of his milestone birthday, Van Dyke has penned a kicky memoir about aging with aplomb; as he seems by all reports to be as sprightly as ever, he can be considered something of an expert. And so this bouncy collection of memories bitter and sweet, blended with lists and rhymes, is our selection for December.

Keep Moving has healthy doses of advice — there’s a tip right in the title, after all —but these aren’t exactly instructions. Rather, they’re the author’s own credos, the products of his lifelong sunny disposition, inquisitive spirit, and childlike playfulness. Each chapter loosely considers a theme, then spins a yarn that speaks to it, almost in the vein of a parable. His comedic tone takes almost nothing too seriously, least of all himself. Although the book does devote pages to heartbreaking loss and serious health scares, none of these setbacks could ultimately slow Van Dyke down. A larger portion of the narrative is devoted to his new wife, Arlene, and the discoveries and adventures they happily share. The impression he gives the reader is of someone too wrapped up with living and learning to concern himself with frailty or impairment.

Overall, the book is a hodgepodge of confessional essays, mixed in with one or two limericks and caricature drawings, that tumble along with Van Dyke’s stream of consciousness. (When one makes it a point to remain charmed by so many things large and small, there are bound to be enthusiastic digressions.) But Van Dyke fans, as well as other readers in need of a lighthearted pick-me-up on the topic of getting older, may be refreshed by his themes and inspired by his optimism, ready to approach aging from a novel state of mind.

Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging
Dick Van Dyke
Weinstein Books
264 pages; $25.99