In a legendary career spanning nearly 80 years, Dick Van Dyke says one five-year span stands out above them all.
The 95-year-old television and film star reminisced with Al Roker on the 3rd hour of TODAY Wednesday about his favorite performances over the years after being selected as one of five honorees at this year's prestigious Kennedy Center Honors for his lifetime contributions to American culture.
"I think the five years on 'The (Dick) Van Dyke Show' with Carl (Reiner) and Mary (Tyler Moore) was the most fun I ever had," he said. "Carl didn't write things in stone. Everybody got to throw in their idea. So from the first reading until we did it on the show, it was a different show altogether."
In addition to his hit show that ran from 1961-66, Van Dyke also said he was "most proud" of his work in the 1964 classic film "Mary Poppins," where he played Mary's best friend Bert, as well as an old bank director, Mr. Dawes Sr.
Van Dyke now adds the Kennedy Center Honors to a career that includes five Emmys, a Tony, a Grammy, the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, a spot in the Television Hall of Fame and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
"It really is, it's the top," he said about his latest honor. "It's like getting knighted as far as I'm concerned. It's the very top of everything. And, you know usually they have friends and compatriots come up. I have no one left. They're all dead. So I'm gonna be surprised."
Van Dyke joins choreographer Debbie Allen, 71, violinist Midori Goto, 49, singer-songwriter Joan Baez, 80, and country music star Garth Brooks, 59, among this year's honorees.
"The other awards are like icing on a cake," he said. "It's such a small group of people, I'm so tickled to be in that group."
Van Dyke is also eager to get back to performing after the pandemic sidelined his a cappella singing group, The Vantastix, for the past year.
"That's the thing with being an entertainer," he said. "You do it because you love to do it. Not for the money's sake. Or awards."
No matter where he goes, he still looks to put a smile on people's faces, even if it means breaking into songs from "Mary Poppins" on a whim.
"We went and got our (vaccine) shots, and there was a lot of elderly people waiting in line," he said. "So we came out and sang (the "Mary Poppins" tune), 'Just a spoonful of sugar (helps the medicine go down),' and everybody joined it. A perfect song."