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Mary Tyler Moore Said Not Having an Affair With Dick Van Dyke Was “A Terrible Waste”

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: CBS / MoviePics1001 / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: CBS / MoviePics1001 / MovieStillsDB

Hollywood has always been good at stirring up drama through workplace romances. Since the Golden Age all the way until today, stars have been engaging in off-screen affairs with their co-stars, though it may not always be morally right. Sometimes, these secret affairs can become major scandals, but sometimes, co-stars never take things off-screen. That was the case for Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore, who never pursued anything more than their lightning on-screen chemistry.

They starred together on The Dick Van Dyke Show

Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore.
Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke for “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” dated April 21, 1961. (Photo Credit: CBS / Getty Images)

The Dick Van Dyke show premiered in 1962 and quickly became one of the most beloved shows of the decade. It ran for five seasons and 158 episodes, with Dick Van Dyke himself serving as one of the lead characters of the series. Alongside him was Mary Tyler Moore, who played his wife in the show. The pair immediately clicked when they started working together, and the audience could feel their chemistry.

While the show was in production, Van Dyke was well into his 30s, while Moore was only in her 20s. Each of them was married during filming as well, but despite these barriers, fans often wondered if they were sharing a romance off-screen as well. However, it seems the two never pursued a romantic affair, which likely helped keep their chemistry high on the show.

Van Dyke and Moore reunited decades later

Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke.
Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke during premiere screening of “The Gin Game.” (Photo Credit: Mark Sullivan / WireImage / Getty Images)

While filming for The Dick Van Dyke Show came to a close in 1966, it wouldn’t be the last time fans saw Van Dyke and Moore together. In 1981, Van Dyke watched Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn in PBS’s American Playhouse, to which he said to Moore that one day they’d be old enough to reunite like that themselves. Fast-forward to 2003, and the project came to fruition.

That year, the pair reunited for a teleplay broadcast for PBS Hollywood Presents titled “The Gin Game.” Reflecting on what it was like for him, Van Dyke said, “It was amazing, like we had just seen each other yesterday.” For him, there was no one else he would have been willing to share that stage with. “I wouldn’t have tried it with Judy Dench, for God’s sake,” he said. “[Moore] gives to me, and there’s just so much mutual support here that, well, it was the only way I felt any confidence in doing this at all.”

Moore thought their lack of an affair was “a terrible shame”

Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke in an embrace.
The episode titled “The Sick Boy and The Sitter,” with Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie, and Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie, originally broadcast in 1961. (Photo Credit: CBS / Getty Images)

It’s clear the two have always thought fondly of one another, with each of them admitting that they had felt an attraction to each other during the filming of the show. However, in all those years of starring together, they had never engaged in a romantic affair.

Later on in life, Moore confirmed as much, saying, “The amazing thing is, we never had an affair.” She was 67 at the time of this comment and had been married to her third husband, Dr. Robert Levine. Looking back on what they never pursued but what could have easily been started, Moore said, “I always thought it was a terrible waste.”

More from us: The Man Who Was Rumored to Be Engaged to Elizabeth Taylor but “Blew It”

Moore passed away in 2017 at the age of 80, while Dick Van Dyke still has an active career at the age of 98.

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Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!