News

Dick Van Dyke escapes unhurt from car fire

Dick Van Dyke escapes unhurt from car fire

A passerby pulled Dick Van Dyke from a car before it burst into flames. Photo: Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Veteran actor Dick Van Dyke, best known for his hit television comedy of the 1960s, survived a car fire unscathed on Monday when a passerby pulled him from the smoldering vehicle before it burst into flames on the side of a Los Angeles-area freeway.

A spokesman for the California Highway Patrol confirmed that the 87-year-old performer was the driver seen slumped over the steering wheel of a Jaguar that was reported to be on fire on the shoulder of the Ventura Freeway.

Van Dyke said a group of motorists who stopped to render assistance, one of them apparently an off-duty firefighter, saw him huddled in the driver’s seat while he was trying to place a call for help and pulled him out of the car to safety.

“They thought I had passed out so they yanked me out of the car,” Van Dyke recounted in an interview with the celebrity news website TMZ.com, saying he had not initially realized that his car was burning.

“It just started making a noise, and I thought I had a flat at first, then it started to smoke, then it burned to a crisp,” he said smiling. He added that he was unhurt and got out of the vehicle “long before” it went up in flames.

Still, he counted himself lucky to be alive.

“Not only that, there was a fireman, a nurse and a cop just happened to be passing by. Somebody’s looking after me.”

The actor’s publicist, Bob Palmer, said the car, a “brand new” Jaguar, inexplicably caught fire after Van Dyke heard an unusual noise while driving and pulled over to the shoulder of the freeway.

He quoted Van Dyke, who had been on his way to a dental appointment, saying afterward, “The only thing I’m embarrassed about is that I could never figure out that damned car.”

‘HE’S FINE, THANK GOD’

Firefighters were “quickly able to extinguish the flames and evaluate the driver’s medical condition. He did not require transport to a medical facility,” Los Angeles city fire department spokesman Erik Scott said.

Palmer said the actor was back at his home and was fine.

A six-second video clip posted on Twitter by Van Dyke’s wife, Arlene, showed the performer’s charred vehicle on the freeway and a brief glimpse of the actor talking to officials at the scene. Van Dyke appeared unharmed in the video clip.

A caption accompanying the clip said: “Van Dyke’s melted car … He’s fine thank God!!”

The tall, lanky actor, whose air of affability and gift for physical comedy helped make “The Dick Van Dyke Show” one of the most beloved sitcoms in U.S. television history, received a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild in January.

The sitcom, co-starring Mary Tyler Moore as his wife, ran on CBS from the fall of 1961 to the fall of 1966 and continued on in syndicated reruns for decades. His role as the comedy writer and family man Rob Petrie, earned him three Emmy awards.

Van Dyke also starred in the family musical movies “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” and the original Broadway cast of the Tony-winning musical “Bye Bye Birdie.” He reprised his stage role for a 1963 film version of that show.

He scored another prime-time hit with the crime drama “Diagnosis Murder” in the 1990s and early 2000s.

News

in Entertainment

Have a question about ‘Star Wars?’ Now you can google it

Fresh
starwars

The search engine has put information from the "Star Wars" universe into its Knowledge Graph, the first time for a fictional universe.

in Entertainment

‘Walking Dead’ star arrested

Fresh
sethgilliam

Seth Gilliam was arrested on charges including speeding, reckless driving, and possession of drugs.

in Entertainment

‘Rapping Granny’ from ‘The Wedding Singer’ dies at 101

weddingsinger

Actress Ellen Albertini Dow, best known for her role in the Adam Sandler comedy, has passed away.

in National, Sports

Boston Marathon bomber shows emotion for 1st time at trial

bostonbomberaunt

Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev showed emotion for the first time at his trial as his aunt sobbed uncontrollably on the witness stand.

in National

Senate slated to vote on GOP budget compromise

congress

The Senate is poised to approve a compromise Republican budget that makes deep cuts in spending while boosting Pentagon accounts by an additional $38 billion next year.