Dick Van Dyke’s Dating History: Margie Willett to Arlene Silver

Source: dickensandfenster.com

American actor and comedian, Dick Van Dykes continues to make history at 98. The actor has become the oldest person to earn a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2024. He earned the recognition for guest starring in the role of Timothy Robicheaux on the 1965 drama, Days of Our Lives, one of the longest-running TV soap operas.  

Dick Van Dyke built his Hollywood career as a Hollywood actor and comedian through the famous series, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” Additionally, he appeared in some popular films like “Marry Poppins,” “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang,” and “Night at the Museum,” for which he has received Emmy awards. 

Behind the reel life, the actor is a loving father to his four children whom he shares with his first wife, Margie Willett. 

Here’s all you need to know about her:

While not much is known about Margie aka Marjorie Willett who was a very private person before and after meeting Dick, she was born in Danville, Illinois in 1927. 

Margie Willett’s professional accomplishments were not widely known. She led a private life during and after her marriage to the Hollywood celebrity. She hated show business and opted to stay away from the spotlight. Thus, she spent more time at the family’s ranch in Arizona.

How did Willett meet Van Dyke?

Both Willett and Dyke met in their hometown, Danville, Illinois in 1947. They began dating after Willett left her high school boyfriend for Van Dyke.

“All through high school, she had dated a boy who was on both the football and wrestling teams […]. After she ditched him for me, he wanted to kill me,” said Van Dyke explaining their history.  

The couple quickly got engaged and moved to Los Angeles where they exchanged vows on February 12, 1948. 

While they did want to get married, the duo had no money to pay for a wedding. Thus, they tied the knot on an ABC radio show, Bride and Groom, where over 1,000 couples got married throughout the show’s timeline in front of 15 million listeners. In exchange, the show paid for the couple’s honeymoon. 

When they tied the knot, Dick Van Dyke was not the famous and successful actor and TV personality we know, so the couple had a hard time making ends meet when their relationship started.

Despite their financial difficulties and that Margie miscarried twins, the couple had four children: Christian, Barry, Stacy, and Carrie Beth Van Dyke. Once Dick became a celebrity, he incorporated his children and some grandchildren into his TV projects, including “Diagnosis Murder.”

Why did Willett divorce Van Dyke?

However, their world of bliss did not last long. The couple’s 36 years of marriage ended with a divorce in 1984. While in the beginning, the couple struggled to make ends meet, even resorting to living in their car, things looked up for them once Van Dyke’s career picked up. He became a famous personality in Hollywood’s film, television, and stage spheres along with radio. 

While the actor ensured to be able to afford all the good things in life, it also took a toll on their marriage. Additionally, while Willett was supportive of Van Dyke’s career, she was shy of the public eye. As such, Van Dyke found comfort in the arms of another woman, Michelle Triola Marvin.  

In “Keep Moving,” one of the books that Dick wrote, he addressed some aspects of his experience cheating on Margie.

In 1972, the actor checked into a hospital to receive alcoholism treatment. Shortly after that, unfortunately, Margie spent some time at the same hospital for addiction to prescription drugs.

Once she was released, Dick Van Dyke’s wife started spending more time on the family’s ranch in the desert. During that period, the actor and his agent’s secretary, Michelle Triola, began their affair. In “Keep Moving,” he wrote:

“[Michelle] was easy to talk to, she understood me. At the time, Michelle was suing actor Lee Marvin, with whom she had a six-year relationship. I was drawn into a relationship. I was involved with a woman other than my wife. It was unbelievable. I was writhing in guilt.”

Although Dick and Michelle Triola had been in a relationship for a few years already, it wasn’t until 1976 that he told Margie about it. They decided to part ways but didn’t divorce until 1984.

How did Margie Willett die?

Willett was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007 and subsequently passed away in 2008. She was 81 when she died in Durham County, North Carolina. 

Soon after Willett’s death, Van Dyke’s then-partner, Michelle Triola was diagnosed with lung cancer. Van Dyke told The Guardian about Triola’s diagnosis: “When she asked if she was going to die, I pretended I didn’t know — the hardest acting I have ever done.”

Triola was in a coma for a week before dying. “Her doctor said she could still hear,” Van Dyke wrote in his memoir. “So I sang and talked to her until the hospice nurses told me she was gone.” Triola died on October 30, 2009, at her home in Malibu, California. She was 76 years old. 

Currently, Van Dyke is married to his second wife, makeup artist Arlene Silver whom he met at the 2006 SAG Awards. 

Their relationship started professionally when Van Dyke hired Silver for a movie. After Triola died, Silver stopped by after work to bring him food. “She was such a support, I fell in love,” he told PEOPLE.

The couple, who have a 46-year age gap, got married on Feb. 29, 2012. He acknowledged their age gap during his conversation with The Guardian, telling the outlet: “We don’t feel the age gap. I’m emotionally immature and Arlene is very wise for her age, so we meet in the middle.”