For more than 50 years, Carl Reiner's scripts of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" have been stored away. Now, for the first time since the show wrapped production in 1966, the scripts will come out of storage to be digitally preserved in an initiative between Reiner and the National Comedy Center in Jamestown.
Combined with new acquisitions from John Rich, who wrote the first 41 episodes of the show, and previously acquired materials from actress Rose Marie, the National Comedy Center will now have the most comprehensive "Dick Van Dyke Show" archive assembled.
“There’s nothing more satisfying than having an idea and seeing it through to find out that, not only did you like it, but the audience and critics all seemed to agree,” said Reiner, who wrote the award-winning show's pilot in 1959. “When asked, ‘Of all the theatrical projects you’ve done in your life, what are you most proud of?’ I always say, hands down, it’s creating and producing 'The Dick Van Dyke Show.’ It was a labor of love.
“I applaud the National Comedy Center for keeping the creative fires burning by singling out and preserving something most people feel deserves preservation,” added Reiner.
The scripts for 158 episodes, totaling more than 7,500 pages, are heavily annotated by Reiner featuring "detailed edits and additions made in real-time during the writing, read-throughs and rehearsals for each episode – providing extraordinary access into the script development and creative process for the 15-time Emmy-winning situation comedy."
The collection from Rich, who was an award-winning situation comedy director, includes production documents and scripts from "The Dick Van Dyke Show," along with original annotated scripts from his time as the original director of “All in the Family.”
In 2018, the center gained the archives of comedienne and singer Rose Marie who starred as Sally Rogers on "The Dick Van Dyke Show," which also starred Mary Tyler Moore and Morey Amsterdam.
“Never before has so much original material from ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ -- from scripts to backstage photos to production documents -- been assembled into one archive for preservation,” Laura LaPlaca, National Comedy Center Director of Archives, said in a statement. “Carl Reiner’s personal scripts, together with the Rose Marie and John Rich archives, provide extraordinary insight into the creation of this landmark TV series and greater appreciation for why it still resonates with comedy creators and fans over a half-century since its original network run.”
The nonprofit National Comedy Center opened in 2018 as the nation's official cultural institution dedicated to presenting the vital story of comedy and preserving its heritage for future generations, as formally designated by the U.S. Congress in 2019. It was recently voted the No. 2 "Best New Attraction" in the country in a USA Today Poll. The center also operates the Lucy-Desi Museum, which celebrates the lives of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Visit nationalcomedycenter.org.