Legendary actor Dick Van Dyke has lived a long and storied life. Born in 1925, the entertainer has had to hit the gym, quit smoking, and overcome alcoholism to get where he is today. But perhaps his partner should get also some credit for keeping him young. Dick Van Dyke’s wife Arlene Silver is a perfect match for the star—even if the public is too focused on their age difference to admit it. Get the details on their May/December romance and find out why they make such a great couple.
Arlene Silver Met Dick Van Dyke While She Was Working As A Make-Up Artist
In 2013, Silver told HuffPost that her marriage to Van Dyke was kismet. One day, the make-up artist was walking past a Hollywood theater with friends when they randomly decided to grab tickets for Mary Poppins. Days later, when she was doing make-up for the SAG Awards, she spotted the star of the film backstage in the green room.
“When I walked in—I swear 30 seconds—I remember seeing Dick at the catering table with his bow tie and his big smile,” she said. “Right when I sat down, he was sitting next to me. He said, ‘Hi, I’m Dick.’ The first thing I asked him was, ‘Weren’t you in Mary Poppins?’”
Van Dyke told the same outlet that Silver “stopped him dead” with her beauty and charm.
“I was standing in the green room at the SAG Awards talking to some very famous actress, very pretty,” said the actor. “This girl walked by, I said, ‘Excuse me,’ and for the first time in my life I went up and introduced myself to a strange woman. I had never done that in my life.”
Their Friendship Blossomed Into A Romance After His Second Wife’s Death
Van Dyke then hired her as a make-up artist for his future projects. But the pair kept things strictly platonic—after all, he was in a long-term relationship with actress Michelle Triola for over 30 years.
It was only after Triola’s death in 2009 that they took the next steps. “During the year that I was alone, she would come over after work and either bring me food or cook for me, do my dishes and look after me, so I fell in love pretty hard,” he said.
The couple married on Leap Day of 2012. “I’m not a loner,” he told Rumor Fix after tying the knot. “I have to have a life partner. I found the perfect one.”
Arlene Silver And Dick Van Dyke Have A 46-Year Age Gap
It sounds like the couple instantly hit it off as friends, but Van Dyke had to convince Silver to overcome a bias before taking things to the next level. The Bye Bye Birdie star admitted to the HuffPost that his love-at-first-sight feelings weren’t returned immediately.
“No, the age difference kind of stopped her,” he said. “I had to convince her that it was meaningless.”
Silver told the same outlet she was hesitant because she feared her friends’ and family members’ reactions. Her anxiety was eased after a close friend expressed pure joy over the romance.
“Then, it just seemed like everyone I told was happy about it,” said Silver. “It just made it easier for both of us. I think I was more nervous than he was. He didn’t feel like there was anything to worry about. But there was really no role model for this kind of age difference. It’s never taken seriously so I was scared about that.”
Van Dyke has a humorous perspective about why the relationship works. It turns out their mental ages meet in the middle and narrow the biological age gap. “Emotionally I’m about 13,” he said. “She’s very, very wise for her age so I’m just having the time of my life.”
Dick Van Dyke Was Previously Married To Margie Willett
Van Dyke is a serial monogamist, but his relationship history isn’t exactly perfect.
From 1948 to 1984, he was married to his first wife, Margie Willett. The couple had four children together, but the family dynamics were strained by Van Dyke’s alcoholism and Willett’s prescription drug addiction. The couple separated in the mid-1970s, even though they remained legally married into the next decade.
In the meantime, Van Dyke began a relationship with Michelle Triola, who was working as his agent’s secretary. “She was easy to talk to, she understood me,” he wrote in his 2016 memoir Keep Moving. “I was drawn into a relationship. I was involved with a woman other than my wife. It was unbelievable. I was writhing in guilt.”
The actor never legally married Triola, but they remained a couple for 33 years.
We imagine he will remain loyal to Silver until his final days. We hope their time together is full of laughter and happiness—and free of ugly rumors.