Many often believe finding true love has an expiry date. It may be a life-changing experience, but one that’s often limited by factors that hardly matter when it does happen, like age. But not for octagenarian Dick Van Dyke. The Mary Poppins actor was not one to let his age hold him back from falling in love. Despite being in his 80s at the time, Van Dyke had fallen head over heels in love with Arlene Silver, a make-up artist 46 years younger than him.
Their love story traces back to 2006 when Van Dyke first met the woman who captured his heart. It was the SAG awards dinner that the actor found himself thoroughly smitten by the young woman. Feeling an instant connection, he knew he had to talk to her right away. “I never approached a strange woman in my life. [It was] instinct. So, I walked over, sat down and introduced myself,” said the actor to Oprah: Where Are They Now?, as quoted Huffington Post.
However, it was different for Arlene Silver. It was a friendship that slowly evolved into a romance. “I remember seeing Dick at the catering table with his bow tie and his big smile. Right when I sat down, he was sitting next to me. He said, ‘Hi, I’m Dick.’ The first thing I asked him was, ‘Weren’t you in Mary Poppins?’” said Silver to Parade in 2018.
Though Van Dyke was attracted to Silver, he was in a relationship with actress Michelle Troila Marvin at the time. He stayed with the actress until she passed away in 2009 due to health complications. It is then that he decided to reach out to Silver and decided to first hire her as his make-up artist. They established a great friendship by working with each other. And it did not take long for the romance to creep in.
For Silver, it was just one instance that left her feeling Van Dyke had become more than just a friend. “When we were working together on a movie, there was one time when we were doing a night shoot… and he was laughing like he always does, but it was the way he was lit or something — he had on a sweater and I thought, ‘Wait a minute!’ I just felt a little different,” recalled Silver.
She continued, “I didn’t really realize how powerful the relationship was becoming. I would come over but I didn’t want to bother him I guess. He gets so many people around him I didn’t want to be intrusive, so I would just say I’ll come over after work and we’ll have dinner, and it turns out he was looking forward to it the whole day.”
Nothing could keep them away from falling for each other. “She would drop by, cook my dinner or bring me dinner, and just took care of me. So, I mean, I had to marry her,” Van Dyke joked. “I became totally dependent!” They knew they were right for each other.
In February 2012, ignoring all criticisms regarding their age difference, the 86-year-old tied the knot with the love of his life. “Despite their obvious age difference, Dick has never been happier. She brings a lot of light into his life,” said Van Dyke’s publicist Bob Palmer to ABC News. Speaking to RumorFix.com, the actor said, “I’m not a loner. I have to have a life partner. I found the perfect one.”
Silver too expressed her joy in finding a man like Van Dyke. “I haven’t been married before so it’s wonderful. He’s the perfect human being but he’s also the perfect partner. I went through a lot of frogs to get my prince.”
It has been seven years since their marriage and the couple is going strong. Though Van Dyke is now in his 90s, the two celebrates their life together. “He is a lot of fun. He’s not immature in a bad way. He’s immature in a good way with the wonder of a child. He’s just fun, he’s open-minded. He’s not stuck in his ways at all. We’re both like children. We feel like we’re both having a second childhood.” On the other hand, Van Dyke calls marrying Silver, “one of the smartest moves..ever made.”
They call their life a true fairy tale and admit there is no such thing as the right age when it comes to finding true love. “It’s an absolute fairytale!! It’s like a modern-day My Fair Lady. Every day, we still don’t believe that this is our life. It originally revolved around Dick’s life but then I’m so much a part of his life it seems like it’s becoming sort of a portrait of an unusual relationship and how well it works… just that love is ageless,” said Silver.