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96-Year-Old Dick Van Dyke Feared Fans Would Call His 50-Year-Old Wife A ‘Gold Digger’

Dick Van Dyke is a notoriously optimistic person. However, he was concerned about what his many fans would think of his new wife, who happens to be decades younger than he is.

In an interview with Closer magazine, the “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” star admitted to being skeptical that anyone would accept Arlene Silver. “I thought there would be an outcry about a gold digger marrying an old man, but no one ever took that attitude,” the actor, who has a fortune estimated at $50 million, told the publication.

Van Dyke, 96, met his current spouse in 2007 at the Screen Actors Guild Awards when he was 81 and she was 35. Silver was there working as a makeup artist and said she was intrigued from the very beginning. 

“He said, ‘Hi, I’m Dick.’ The first thing I asked him was, ‘Weren’t you in ‘Mary Poppins’? We got along immediately as friends, so it didn’t feel like he was so much older than me,” she said during the same interview.

The pair graduated from friendship to romance before tying the knot in February 2012. To hear them tell it, they’re still just as enamored with each other now as they were then, and age is barely a concern.

“We share an attitude,” Van Dyke said of Silver. “She can go with the flow. She loves to sing and dance, which we do almost every day. She’s just delightful.”

Silver agreed, saying, “He is the most perfect human being. I’ve never met anyone so happy, so genuine, so amazing. He’s just like a happy pill.”

The “Mary Poppins” alum credits his longevity with staying in motion even now. Van Dyke said he didn’t get into dancing until later in life, but has developed his moves since then and likes to participate in physical activity to stay limber.

“I have arthritis and all those things, but I keep moving,” he explained. “I didn’t discover dancing and singing until I was in my 30s. It just happened out of nowhere. I regret that I didn’t train a little or take some vocal coaching or something. But I just enjoyed what I had and had fun with it.”

Plus, Van Dyke credits his attitude with being a huge factor in staying happy and healthy into old age. 

“It’s more in my nature to be optimistic, I think,” he told NPR in 2015. “I’m one of those people who get up on the right side of the bed in the morning. I get up and have a cup of coffee and go to the gym because I talk myself out of it because I will as anybody will.”

Van Dyke was married once before to Margie Willett for 36 years and had four children with her. They divorced in 1984. He was also in a long-term relationship with actress Michelle Triola for more than 30 years until her death in 2009.

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