On January 5th, the world lost a one-of-a-kind performer. Shirley Ann Jones revealed to fans that her husband, actor Jerry Van Dyke, 86, had passed away at their ranch in Arkansas.
Jerry’s health started failing following a traffic accident in 2015. He was most known for his role as Luther Van Dam on the ’90s football comedy Coach.
He started his career in stand-up comedy. While Jerry was a recognizable star, many are probably more familiar with his older brother, Dick Van Dyke. Jerry appeared as his brother’s on-screen sibling on The Dick Van Dyke Show in the early ’60s. He also starred on The Judy Garland Show.
Jerry turned down the role of Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island to appear on another, short-lived sitcom, My Mother The Car, in 1965. It is considered one of history’s worst television shows, but fortunately, it didn’t cost Jerry his career.
He got his big break in 1989 playing one of Craig T. Nelson’s assistants on Coach. The series was on the air for nine seasons, and Jerry earned four Emmy nominations for the role.
Jerry last appeared on TV in 2015. He starred with his brother Dick on the ABC comedy The Middle, in which he had a recurring role. The brothers sang “Two of a Kind.”
A few days after his passing, Dick paid tribute to his brother on Facebook, writing that Jerry learned to act by watching Candid Camera. Dick noted:
All that hesitant, stumbling speech pattern was timed to a nanosecond.
He also joked that Jerry had come into the world with a special skill:
He was born with a slight birth defect, an enlarged funny bone! Somehow it jarred his perspective on life a little to the side. I never could fathom what it was he saw, but I knew that everything struck him funny.
Dick added that he loved his brother very much:
An incredibly sane man, a little Huckleberry Finn, a little Laurel & Hardy. My favorite comic. I loved him. He deserved more.
In honor of Jerry, Dick also changed his profile picture to one featuring his brother laughing out loud. It’s a touching tribute to a man who contributed so much to the world of comedy. We’ll miss you, Jerry.