Dick Van Dyke First Wife: Know Who Is Margie Willett?

Who Was Margie Willett?

Margie Willett is best known as the wife of legendary actor Dick Van Dyke, but her life was filled with love, hardships, and quiet strength. Their journey from Danville, Illinois, to Hollywood is a testament to perseverance in the face of stardom’s challenges.

How Did Margie Willett and Dick Van Dyke Meet?

Margie Willett and Dick Van Dyke met during their high school years in Danville, Illinois. Their love blossomed into a lifelong commitment, despite early threats from Willett’s former flame. According to Van Dyke’s memoir “My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business,” Willett left her high school boyfriend for him. This decision led her down a path filled with charm and challenges, bringing her closer to Van Dyke, who supported her throughout their journey together.

What Was Unique About Their Wedding?

Due to financial limitations, Willett and Van Dyke decided on an unconventional step for their marriage. They got married on the ABC radio show “Bride and Groom,” broadcasted live to 15 million listeners nationwide. This radio show wedding not only met their financial needs but also marked the beginning of their life together, foreshadowing the impact of their celebrity status in later years.

What Challenges Did They Face in Their Marriage?

Throughout their marriage, Willett and Van Dyke endured numerous difficulties. Financial strain and emotional trauma from tragic miscarriages tested their bond. Van Dyke’s entertainment career often required frequent travel, further challenging their relationship. While Dick Van Dyke found success in roles such as “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Mary Poppins,” Willett felt uncomfortable with Hollywood life. She preferred their ranch in Arizona over the bustling lifestyle of Los Angeles.

Both partners battled personal demons, with Van Dyke struggling with alcohol and Willett with antidepressant addiction. These struggles caused further separation between them. Tensions increased after Van Dyke had an affair with his agent’s secretary, leading to their separation and eventual divorce in the mid-1980s.

What Was Margie Willett’s Impact on Dick Van Dyke?

Margie Willett had a profound effect on Van Dyke. Her strength, resilience, and stability during personal and shared hardships provided a foundation for his career. Her discomfort with Hollywood life and struggles with addiction influenced how their relationship developed and how Van Dyke approached his professional endeavors. He sought roles that offered a sense of stability amid the chaos of show business.

How Is Margie Willett’s Legacy Remembered?

Margie Willett’s legacy extends beyond Hollywood. She is remembered not just as the spouse of an entertainment icon, but as a person who handled life’s ups and downs with grace and strength. Her life serves as a reminder of the unseen battles faced by those on either side of fame. Willett’s story is a poignant reminder of the complex narratives behind the public personae of celebrities.


Margie Willett’s life, full of resilience, continues to inspire many today. Her journey from a high school romance to the complexities of Hollywood life is a story of love, hardship, and strength. Margie Willett’s legacy is not just one of being an underappreciated spouse, but one of profound personal strength and impact on those around her, including the legendary Dick Van Dyke. Her story offers a deeper understanding of the real-life challenges behind the glittery facade of fame, reminding us all of the power of resilience.


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