Jerry Van Dyke, the younger brother of actor Dick Van Dyke and a four-time Emmy nominee, died Friday in Arkansas. He was 86.
Jerry’s wife, Shirley Ann Jones, told the New York Times that his health had deteriorated since a traffic accident in 2015.
Van Dyke’s television career began in tandem with his brother’s, as one of his earliest appearances was on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” in 1962 as Stacey Petrie.
Throughout his television career, Van Dyke gravitated towards projects that would go on to be short-lived, turning down a starring role in “Gilligan’s Island” to work on “My Mother the Car,” which has been regarded as one of the worst television shows of the era. It ran for only one season on NBC in September 1965. A few of his other ill-fated projects included “Accidental Family,” “Headmaster” and “13 Queens Boulevard.”
When his television career began to seemingly taper off at the end of the ’60s, he supported himself with his stage show, which played in Las Vegas, at Playboy Clubs, and on cruise ships.
In 1989, however, Van Dyke nabbed the role of Assistant Coach Luther Van Dam on “Coach,” which ran until 1997. Van Dam assisted to Craig T. Nelson’s Coach Hayden Fox as they oversaw the fictional Minnesota State University Screaming Eagles. Van Dyke’s work on the show earned him four Emmy nominations for supporting actor.
Van Dyke was characteristically good-humored about the meandering nature of his career, telling USA Today in 1990 that the Emmy nominations he received for the role marked its peak.
“Everybody talks about me making a comeback,” he said. “I say: ‘Comeback from what? This is as good as it’s ever been.’”
After “Coach” ended, Van Dyke continued to make guest appearances in sitcoms like “Yes, Dear,” “Raising Hope” and “My Name is Earl.”