That time Dick Van Dyke peed in the bushes and paid Walt Disney for 2nd ‘Mary Poppins’ role

 

In this month’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” Dick Van Dyke plays a surprisingly nimble elderly London banker — who bears an uncanny resemblance to the elderly Mr. Dawes he played in the original 1964 film “Mary Poppins.”

The 92-year-old actor, who’s best know for playing the “step-in-time” chimney sweep Bert in the Walt Disney classic, has said that he went to great lengths — and his own personal expense — to land the bonus role in the film.

“I loved portraying old men, and since first reading the script, I had been secretly eyeing that part, which included the song ‘Fidelity Fiduciary Bank,'” the actor wrote in his 2011 memoir, “My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business.” “I saw a lot of potential for extracurricular amusement.”

To his surprise, though, studio chief Walt Disney insisted that his young star test for the role. So Van Dyke donned white hair and a beard to be made up like “a balding old man in his nineties.” “I was stooped over, talking like the very senior banker, and having a blast amusing both the crew and myself,” he wrote.

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Dick Van Dyke through the years
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Dick Van Dyke through the years

LAUGH LINE -- Episode 101

Pictured: Host Dick Van Dyke

(Photo by: Paul W. Bailey/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Dick van Dyke, American actor for film, stage, and screen, comedian and dancer.

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THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW -- ''The Sick Boy and The Sitter'

Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie, MaryTyler Moore as Laura Petrie

Broadcast on CBS on October 3, 1961

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'THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW'

(Standing, left to right) Rose Marie, Mary Tyler Moore, Morey Amsterdam; (seated) Dick Van Dyke.  

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American actor Dick Van Dyke and his children host a telecast of the 1939 film 'The Wizard of Oz', circa 1961.

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Mary Tyler Moore, Larry Matthews, Dick Van Dyke and for The Dick Van Dyke Show. Image dated October 10, 1962. Hollywood, CA.

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16TH ANNUAL PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS

Pictured: Winners of Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Comedy for 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' (l-r) actor Richard Deacon, actor/writer Carl Reiner, actor Dick Van Dyke, actress Mary Tyler Moore, director Jerry Paris at the 16th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, CA on May 25, 1964. 

(Photo by Frank Carroll/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Dick Van Dyke as Bert, Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, Karen Dotrice as Jane Banks and Matthew Garber (1956 - 1977) as Michael Banks in the Disney musical 'Mary Poppins', directed by Robert Stevenson, 1964.

(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

THORNTON TWINS FIND OUT WHAT A FAN LETTER CAN DO

Billie, left, and Pattie Alexander, 15, were invited to meet Dick Van Dyke at Denver Hilton Hotel, a result of Pattie's letter to the star. She invited him to her home for dinner, but his time was limited so Show-A-Rama officials invited girls down town to meet him. 

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Dick Van Dyke; circa 1970; New York.

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American actor and comedian Dick Van Dyke in a clown costume, circa 1970.

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American actor Dick van Dyke and American pop singer Mama Cass Elliot (1943 - 1974) perform as Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy during Elliot's television variety special 'Don't Call Me Mama Anymore,' September 28, 1973.

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Actor Tony Randall and Dick Van Dyke on 'The Carol Bunett Show' on January 23, 1976 in Los Angeles, California.

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Dick Van Dyke in a scene from the film 'The Runner Stumbles', 1979.

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Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore circa 1980s in New York City.

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Dick Van Dyke on the ABC Television Network competition 'Battle of the Network Stars'

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Dick Van Dyke, Joan Van Ark, Earl Weaver on the ABC Television Network competition 'Battle of the Network Stars'

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Jerry Van Dyke and Dick Van Dyke during 43rd Annual Emmy Awards - Pre-Emmy Award Gala at Westwood Marquis Hotel in Westwood, California, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

THE GOLDEN GIRLS

BEA ARTHUR, DICK VAN DYKE

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Dick Van Dyke during Dick Van Dyke Honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood, California, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Dick Van Dyke and Michele Triola arrive at Disney's California Adventure for a private pre-opening party for celebrities and special guests on 2/7/01. The new park is adjacent to Disneyland in Anaheim, Ca. and it opened to the public 2/8/01.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Carol Burnett and Dick Van Dyke at the Society of Singers' 10th Annual Ella Award presentation to singer, actress Dame Julie Andrews at the Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, Ca. 4/25/01. 

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Dick Van Dyke at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California. 

(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

SCRUBS -- 'My Brother, My Keeper' Episode 14

Pictured: (Zach Braff as Dr. John 'J.D.' Dorian, Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Townshend

(Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Dick Van Dyke during 'Mary Poppins' 40th Anniversary and Launch of Special Edition DVD. Arrivals at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States.

(Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

Dick Van Dyke during The Midnight Mission Honors Dick Van Dyke with its Golden Heart Award at Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (

Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage for Midnight Mission)

Actor Dick Van Dyke and Actress Jayne Meadows arrive at the celebration for Cloris Leachman's 60 years in show business at Fogo De Chao restaurant on October 5th, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California.

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Dick Van Dyke at Paddle Out Protest at the Malibu Pier in Malibu, California.

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Actors Dick Van Dyke and Mike Myers, recipient of the Lucile Ball Legacy Of Laughter Award, pose for a portrait during the 6th annual 'TV Land Awards' held at Barker Hangar on June 8, 2008 in Santa Monica, California.

(Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for TV Land)

Actor Dick Van Dyke and actress Nichelle Nichols attend the 2008 Backlot Film Festival Tribute to Carl Reiner on April 5, 2008 in Culver City, California.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Legendary actor Dick Van Dyke is photographed at the Geffen Playhouse on November 15, 2010. 

(Photo by Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4040

Pictured: Actor Dick Van Dyke during an interview with host Jay Leno on May 11, 2011

(Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

TODAY

Pictured: (l-r) Matt Lauer and Dick Van Dyke

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THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4040

Pictured: Actor Dick Van Dyke in the car from the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on May 11, 2011 

(Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4040

Pictured: TV personality Khloe Kardashian backstage with Actor Dick Van Dyke on May 11, 2011

(Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank)

Actress Julie Andrews and actor Dick Van Dyke arrive at the Professional Dancers Society Presents Gypsy Award To Julie Andrews at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 18, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo by Amanda Edwards/FilmMagic)

Arlene Silver and Dick Van Dyke arrives at the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Dick Van Dyke attends the 2014 Princess Grace awards gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on October 8, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo by Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic)

Honoree Dick Van Dyke and host Jane Lynch pose with the Prince Rainier III Award during the 2014 Princess Grace Awards Gala with presenting sponsor Christian Dior Couture at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on October 8, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for The Princess Grace Foundation-USA)

Dick Van Dyke at D23 EXPO, the ultimate Disney fan event.

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Disney Legend Dick Van Dyke, who portrays Bert, the carefree Cockney chimney sweep in Mary Poppins, hosted interstitials throughout ABCs broadcast of The Wonderful World of Disney Presented by Target Brings You Mary Poppins.

(Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC via Getty Images)

THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY: DISNEYLAND 60

DICK VAN DYKE & MINNIE MOUSE

(Photo by Richard Harbaugh/ABC via Getty Images)

Actors Dick Van Dyke and Bryan Cranston attend AARP's Movie For GrownUps Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images for AARP)

Actor Dick Van Dyke attends AARP's 15th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo by Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images for AARP)

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During the actual screen test, he ad-libbed lines in front of the on-set house of George and Martha Banks where much of the film took place — and even pretended to “pee in the bushes” every few minutes.

“‘I’m a weak old man because of a hernia,’ I explained in a wheezy voice,” he wrote.

The gambit worked. Disney relented and allowed him to take on the extra role — but at a steep price. Namely, he insisted that Van Dyke donate $4,000 to his 3-year-old art school, California Institute of the Arts — which would be more than $32,000 in 2018 dollars.

“I ended up paying him a not insignificant amount of money to play a part I had offered to do for free,” the actor wrote. “I’m still scratching my head over at that one.”

Even so, Van Dyke added, “It was worth every dollar. I would have, in fact, paid even more.”

The actor’s cameo in “Mary Poppins Returns” was considerably less costly. At a Q&A in New York earlier this month, director Rob Marshall explained that Van Dyke’s character was the son of the original Mr. Dawes since the new film is set roughly 25 years after the original.

9 PHOTOS
Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore
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Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore
Actor Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore and Ed Asner attend 45th Annual Thalians Ball on October 7, 2000 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 16: Actress Mary Tyler Moore (L) and actor Dick Van Dyke attend the Tribute To Mary Tyler Moore at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 16, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Promotional portrait of American actors Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke reprise their roles as Laura and Rob Petrie on 'The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited,' Los Angeles, California, March 10, 2004. (Photo by Tony Esparza/CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke of 'The Gin Game' at the PBS 2003 Winter TCA Tour held at the Renaissance Hotel in Los Angeles, Ca on January 9, 2003. Photo by Barbara Binstein/ImageDirect.
HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 2: Actress Mary Tyler Moore straightens actor Dick Van Dyke's tie at the TV Land Awards 2003 at the Hollywood Palladium on March 2, 2003 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
379726 08: Actress Mary Tyler Moore actor Dick Van Dyke pose for photographers at the 45th Thalians Annual Ball honoring Moore for her contributions to the world of entertainment and philanthropic efforts October 7, 2000 in Century City, CA. (Photo by Steve Grayson/Newsmakers)
Dick Van Dyke, US actor, and Mary Tyler Moore, US actress, in a wedding dress, with a piece of icing from a wedding cake on her finger, in a publicity portrait issued for the US television special, 'Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman', USA, 1969. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
1964: EXCLUSIVE American actors Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore smile while holding the Emmy Awards they won for Best Actor and Actress for the television series, 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' backstage at the Emmy Awards, Los Angeles, California. Van Dyke wears a tuxedo. Moore wears a sleeveless cocktail dress with a pearl necklace and bracelet. (Photo by M. Garrett/Murray Garrett/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Photo of Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke (Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns)
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