Destination Illinois: Dick Van Dyke’s hometown

Destination Illinois
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DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — A household name is proud to call this town his home.

The city’s pride can be seen everywhere. Dick Van Dyke is a 1944 graduate of Danville High School.

It’s only fitting he performed here two years ago in what’s now called the Dick Van Dyke Auditorium because that’s where it all started.

“He was a star here, in the local area here, in both music and stage and was extremely well-liked. Of course, no one was surprised that he was so successful.”

Denman showed up Van Dyke’s legacy which lines the hallways and fills the entire campus; depicting his humble beginnings.

His acting career took off. It’s well documented in Fisher Theatre where Van Dyke used to watch movies as a kid. Now his movies, and valuable props from them, are in display case.

Carol Nichols is touched by his continued love of the theater and the city.

“For people my age, he was part of our lives growing up. And, he was just, it was always so special to be able to seek the Dick Van Dyke show on television and have him talk about Danville.”

If you’re a Dick Van Dyke fan, now you know where in town you can see his mark. But, if you’re traveling, there’s even just a quick stop you can make along your way.

The owner of this McDonald’s got permission from corporate to make this a special landmark. The golden arches here also hold pictures of the golden stars of Danville, including Dick Van Dyke.

“It shows kids in our community that they came form here and I too, can follow my dream and be successful.”

Van Dyke also visited in 2004, stopping at the high school. The principal says a student asked Van Dyke to sign his shoe. At 78-years old, he got down on his knees, signed it and popped right back up.

Van Dyke isn’t the only star from here. There’s also his brother, Jerry Van Dyke, Gene Hackman, Bobby Short, Helen Morgan and Donald O’Connor. A number came back in the 1980’s to help save the Fischer Theatre when it faced an uncertain future.

When Dick Van Dyke visited in 2016, he toured his childhood home. That house will be restored and turned into a museum. See video of that tour:

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