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

After the death of longtime partner Michelle Triola, Dick Van Dyke married Arlene Silver in 2012

Dick Van Dyke and Margie Willett ; Dick Van Dyke and Arlene Silver
Photo: Woods/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty ; Paul Morigi/Getty

Dick Van Dyke has found love again.

The Mary Poppins star's illustrious career has spanned decades, entertaining viewers across film, TV and stage. His performances have garnered him countless accolades, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild and a Kennedy Center Honor, among others.

Throughout his decades-long career, Van Dyke has found himself in several long-term relationships. Before the fame, Van Dyke met his future wife, Margie Willett, as a teenager in his hometown, and the couple got married in 1948, later welcoming four children. Before they divorced in 1984, he began an affair with Michelle Triola. Van Dyke and Triola never married during their 35-year relationship, which lasted until Triola's death in 2009.

Van Dyke met makeup artist Arlene Silver at an awards show in 2006. While they remained friends for years, Triola's death was a turning point in their relationship. Silver looked after Van Dyke while he mourned his longtime love. "Arlene would come by after work and bring me food. She was such a support, I fell in love," he told PEOPLE in 2013.

The couple got married in February 2012, and Van Dyke has credited his wife as his secret to staying young.

Here's a look back at Dick Van Dyke's relationship history.

Margie Willett

1966: Actor Dick Van Dyke with wife Margie Willett attends the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles,CA
Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Van Dyke began his romance with his first wife, Margie Willett, at the tail end of his teen years. In an August 2016 interview with The Guardian, the actor said he was just 20 years old when he began dating Willett, though they had known each other for many years, having both grown up in Danville, Illinois.

The actor said the couple were "too broke to get married," but they found a way around that: A radio producer offered to pay for their wedding and honeymoon if they got married on his show. Van Dyke and Willett wed on Feb. 12, 1948, on a radio show called Bride and Groom. "We exchanged our vows in front of a minister and two radio microphones while 15 million people listened!" he told the outlet.

He described his late ex-wife as "earthy and artistic," adding that she wasn't keen on Hollywood. Van Dyke said he and Willett would often be mistaken as brother and sister, adding, "Once, when I appeared on a magazine cover, Margie snapped up six copies and the cashier asked if she was my mother."

Van Dyke and Willett had four children together: Christian, Barry, Stacy and Carrie Beth. Willett also miscarried twins prior to Christian's birth. Van Dyke is also a grandfather of seven and a great-grandfather to several more.

The couple's relationship was not without its issues. The actor said the two were both living with addiction throughout their relationship — Van Dyke dealt with alcoholism, while his wife was "hooked on antidepressants." He recalled that when he checked out of a rehab facility, his wife was checking in. "Our addictions were symptomatic of deeper problems in our relationship and we were drifting apart," he told The Guardian.

While Van Dyke and Willett were growing apart, he met Michelle Triola. The two had an affair, and Van Dyke and Willett eventually divorced in 1984, after a long separation.

Willett died in 2007, at age 80, after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In his 2016 memoir Keep Moving, Van Dyke opened up about her death, writing (per Country Living), "Even though we were long divorced, with her death I lost a part of myself."

Michelle Triola

Michelle Triola and Dick Van Dyke during 2007 Golden Heart Awards at Midnight Mission in Los Angeles, California, United States
M. Tran/FilmMagic

Van Dyke and Michelle Triola began dating in the years before his marriage with Willett officially ended. He opened up about their early romance in Keep Moving, per Country Living.

Following Van Dyke and Willett's separate stints in rehab, the actor said that Willett was spending time on their ranch out in the desert. During this time, around 1975, he began confiding in his agent's secretary, Michelle Triola. "She was easy to talk to, she understood me," he wrote. He later told The Guardian that Triola was "feisty," "smart" and "knew the showbiz world inside out."

At the time, Triola was in the process of suing actor Lee Marvin. The couple had dated for six years and lived together without marrying. The lawsuit eventually became a landmark case that established the concept of palimony for separated unmarried couples, according to the New York Times.

Van Dyke wrote that he was ultimately "drawn into a relationship" and found his own extramarital affair "unbelievable." He continued, "I was writhing in guilt. By 1976 I had to do something. I needed to be honest." Van Dyke and Willett subsequently separated, later finalizing their divorce in 1984.

Van Dyke and Triola were together for 35 "very happy" years, as he told The Guardian, though the couple never married. They discussed the topic, but he "could never get her to put a date in the diary."

Soon after Willett died from cancer, Triola's doctor "found a spot on her lung" and diagnosed her with lung cancer. Van Dyke reflected on Triola's diagnosis with The Guardian: "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 her death. "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 Oct. 30, 2009, at their home in Malibu, California. She was 76 years old.

Arlene Silver

Dick Van Dyke and Arlene Silver attend the Premiere Of HBO's 'If You're Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast' on May 17, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California
Dick Van Dyke and his wife. Tibrina Hobson/Getty

Van Dyke and his second wife, makeup artist Arlene Silver, first met at the 2006 SAG Awards while she was working. "There was something about her beautiful eyes," he told PEOPLE in 2013.

"I knew him, I just didn't know how I knew him," Silver added. "I like that I knew him as a man before I knew him as a performer."

Their relationship started off 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."

By their one-year wedding anniversary, he called married life "unbelievable" during an interview with Parade. He added, "It's one of the smartest moves I ever made. She makes me happy."

The Masked Singer contestant has said his genes aren't the only thing helping him stay young at heart. In February 2022, he gave his wife some credit for his youthful spirit, remarking in an interview: "Having a beautiful young wife half my age to take care of me — that works! My positive attitude, I get that from my wife."

Over the years, Van Dyke and Silver have made several public appearances and collaborated on a few projects as a couple. In November 2018, Van Dyke and Silver walked the red carpet at the Mary Poppins Returns premiere.

The actor also appeared in the "Everybody Loves a Lover" music video for his wife's band, Arlene & the Vantastix, in February 2022. He was also a featured artist on the track.

Related Articles