Dick Van Dyke First Wife, Who Is Margie Willett?

Ever wondered about the woman behind the legendary actor Dick Van Dyke? Meet Margie Willett, his first wife and unsung hero. Their story is a rollercoaster of love, challenges, and resilience that’ll make you rethink what you know about Hollywood marriages.

Margie wasn’t just arm candy for a rising star. She was Dick’s rock, his home base, and sometimes, his toughest critic. Let’s dive into their journey from small-town sweethearts to a couple navigating the glitz and pitfalls of Tinseltown.

How Did Margie Willett and Dick Van Dyke Meet?

Picture this: Danville, Illinois, in the late 1940s. Dick and Margie, high school kids with stars in their eyes. But here’s the kicker – Margie was dating someone else! Talk about a plot twist straight out of a teen drama.

Dick, being the charmer he is, managed to win Margie over. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though. Her ex wasn’t too thrilled, and there was some small-town drama. But hey, when you’re young and in love, who cares about a little gossip?

Their love story wasn’t just puppy love. It was the real deal, built on shared dreams and a deep connection. They were more than high school sweethearts; they were partners ready to take on the world together.

What Caused Their Radio Show Wedding?

Now, here’s where things get interesting. Dick and Margie wanted to tie the knot, but there was one tiny problem – they were broke. Like, eating-ramen-for-dinner broke. But love finds a way, right?

Enter the ABC radio show “Bride and Groom.” It was like the 1950s version of a reality TV wedding. The show offered to pay for everything – rings, honeymoon, the works. All Dick and Margie had to do was say “I do” on air.

Imagine that. Your wedding day, broadcast to 15 million people across the nation. Talk about pressure! But for these two lovebirds, it was a dream come true. They got their happily ever after, and America got to be part of it.

What Were Their Major Challenges in Their Marriage?

Life after the radio show wedding wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Dick and Margie faced some serious hurdles that would test even the strongest of bonds.

First up, money troubles. Being newlyweds is tough enough, but try doing it when you’re struggling to make ends meet. They pinched pennies and made it work, but it wasn’t easy.

Then came the heartbreak. Margie suffered multiple miscarriages, a pain that’s hard to even imagine. It took a toll on both of them, emotionally and physically. But through it all, they leaned on each other.

As Dick’s career started taking off, a new challenge emerged – distance. His work often took him away from home, leaving Margie to hold down the fort. It’s not easy being married to a rising star, especially when you’re more of a homebody.

How Did Hollywood Affect Their Relationship?

Hollywood – the land of glitz, glamour, and… temptation. As Dick’s star rose with hits like “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Mary Poppins,” Margie found herself in a world she never asked for.

While Dick was thriving in the spotlight, Margie preferred the quiet life. She was more at home on their Arizona ranch than at Hollywood parties. This clash of lifestyles started to create a rift between them.

The pressures of fame took their toll on both. Dick turned to alcohol to cope, while Margie struggled with depression and became dependent on prescription medications. It was a classic case of Hollywood’s dark side affecting a once-solid marriage.

What Caused Their Separation?

Caused Their Separation

Now, brace yourself for the bombshell. After years of ups and downs, Dick dropped a confession that shook their marriage to its core – he had an affair. Ouch.

It wasn’t just any affair. It was with someone close to home – his agent’s secretary. Talk about complicated. This revelation in 1976 was the final straw that led to their separation.

But here’s the thing – they didn’t rush to divorce. They spent years trying to work things out. It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that they officially called it quits. Even then, there was still a lot of love and respect between them.

How Did Margie Willett Affect Dick Van Dyke’s Life and Career?

Don’t for a second think Margie was just a footnote in Dick’s story. She was a major influence, both personally and professionally.

During the early days of his career, Margie was Dick’s stability. She kept him grounded when Hollywood tried to sweep him off his feet. Her down-to-earth nature influenced the roles he chose and how he navigated the industry.

Even after their split, Margie’s impact on Dick was clear. He often spoke about her strength and resilience, qualities that helped shape his own character. In many ways, she was the unsung hero behind his success.

The Legacy of Margie Willett

Margie Willett’s story didn’t end with her divorce from Dick Van Dyke. She continued to live a life of quiet strength until her passing in 2008.

While she never sought the limelight, Margie’s legacy lives on. She’s remembered not just as Dick Van Dyke’s first wife, but as a woman who faced life’s challenges with grace and determination.

Her story reminds us that behind every great man, there’s often a great woman. Margie’s resilience in the face of Hollywood’s pressures, personal tragedies, and the challenges of being married to a celebrity is truly inspiring.

Lessons from Margie and Dick’s Marriage

Their marriage might not have lasted forever, but there’s a lot we can learn from Margie and Dick’s relationship:

  1. Love can thrive in unexpected places (like a radio show wedding!).
  2. Success can put a strain on even the strongest relationships.
  3. It’s possible to maintain respect and care for each other, even after a divorce.
  4. The person behind the scenes can be just as important as the one in the spotlight.

The Hollywood Love Story That Time Forgot

Hollywood Love Story

Margie and Dick’s story is more than just a Hollywood tale. It’s a reminder that real love stories are messy, complicated, and don’t always have a fairy tale ending.

They went from small-town sweethearts to a couple thrust into the limelight. They weathered financial struggles, personal tragedies, and the temptations of fame. And even though their marriage didn’t last, their bond left an indelible mark on both their lives.

In the end, Margie Willett wasn’t just Dick Van Dyke’s first wife. She was a strong, resilient woman who played a crucial role in the life of one of America’s most beloved actors. Her story deserves to be remembered, not as a footnote, but as a testament to the power of love, forgiveness, and personal strength.

So next time you watch Dick Van Dyke light up the screen, spare a thought for Margie. She might not have been in the spotlight, but her influence shines through in every performance. Now that’s what you call a leading lady, on and off the screen.


Is Margie Willett still alive?

No, Margie Willett is not alive. She passed away in 2008. Her death came after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Despite their divorce, Dick Van Dyke spoke fondly of her after her passing.

Who was Barry Van Dyke’s wife?

Barry Van Dyke’s wife was Mary Carey Van Dyke. They married in 1974. Their marriage lasted for over 40 years. Mary supported Barry throughout his acting career. She was known for keeping a low profile despite being part of the Van Dyke family.

Who were Barry Van Dyke’s children?

Barry Van Dyke has four children. They are Carey, Shane, Wes, and Taryn Van Dyke. All of them have pursued careers in the entertainment industry. Carey and Shane have acted alongside their father in various projects. Wes works as a production designer. Taryn has appeared in a few TV shows.

Who is Barry Van Dyke’s mother?

Barry Van Dyke’s mother is Margie Willett. She was Dick Van Dyke’s first wife. Margie and Dick were married from 1948 to 1984. They had four children together, including Barry. Despite not being in show business herself, Margie played a significant role in the Van Dyke family’s early years in Hollywood.

Final Words

Ever heard of Margie Willett? She’s the unsung hero behind Dick Van Dyke’s early success. Their love story started in small-town Illinois and hit the big time with a radio show wedding. But Hollywood life wasn’t all glitz and glamour for Margie. She faced miscarriages, money troubles, and Dick’s growing fame. 

While he thrived in the spotlight, she preferred their quiet Arizona ranch. Their marriage hit rocky patches with Dick’s drinking and Margie’s depression. An affair finally led to their split, but their bond never truly broke. 

Margie’s strength and down-to-earth nature shaped Dick’s career and character. Her story reminds us that real love is messy, complicated, and sometimes hidden behind the scenes.

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