Mary Poppins first opened back in 1964, and so audiences have had a long time to get to know and love both the movie and its cast of characters. Then, more than 50 years on, sequel Mary Poppins Returns was released, bringing fans a new adventure featuring both the Banks family and the eponymous nanny herself. And those who have seen the follow-up film may recognize one actor who also appeared in the original: Dick Van Dyke.
While Van Dyke was on the promotional trail for Mary Poppins Returns, though, he made a revelation that may have raised some eyebrows. Yes, not only did the actor have two roles in the first movie, but he also had to fight Walt Disney himself for that double casting.
That’s probably not the only Hollywood secret that Van Dyke could spill, either, given his many decades in show business. And along the way, he’s appeared in some big movies, with Bye Bye Birdie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Night at the Museum franchise and, of course, Mary Poppins among them. Not only that, but the veteran star has been well rewarded for his work; currently, he has a Grammy, a Tony and five Primetime Emmys.
In Van Dyke’s youth, though, he didn’t think of being an actor; thanks to his religious background, he instead once considered becoming a man of the cloth. Yet even though he ultimately chose stardom, he apparently believes that there are parallels between preaching and his work on screen. “I suppose I never completely gave up my childhood idea of being a minister,” Van Dyke wrote in his 2011 autobiography, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business. “Only the medium and the message changed. I have still endeavored to touch people’s souls, to raise their spirits and put smiles on their faces.”