Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2012/07/my-lucky-life-in-and-out-of-show.html
My Life In and Out of Show Business is the memoirs of Dick Van Dyke. As a memoir, it is centered entirely on his story. The other characters including his family are introduced and included in relation to his life and when and where they impact his life. Beyond that, this is entirely the story of Dick Van Dyke.
Dick Van Dyke is an icon of my childhood. From Mary Poppins to The Dick Van Dyke Show to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Diagnosis Murder. As such, I was hesitant to read his memoirs. I find, the often, icons are better maintained as icons. Learning about the reality of their lives typically tarnishes the iconic image. That concern was even greater because of Dick Van Dyke's perpetual image as a happy and a nice man.
I was relieved to read his instructions in the introduction - he asks the reader to stop reading if they are looking for dirt. It was not that kind of book. And the book lives up to that instruction. The book is all about him and his personal and professional relationships.
On the one hand, you could call it self serving in that a man whose career is based on being the nice guy next door maintains the image in his own memoirs. Or, on the other hand, you could take the approach that that is truly who he is. He faces challenges and difficulties but gets past them with his positive approach to life.
To me, reading this book is like listening to someone tell his story while sitting comfortably in a cozy corner. I choose to maintain my idealism about this icon, and say that the book is a fascinating look at his life and that who he represents to be is who is.