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'Coach' Actor & Foil for His Brother, Dick, Dies
Jerry Van Dyke, who after decades in show business finally emerged from the shadow of his older brother, Dick, with an Emmy-nominated role in the long-running ABC sitcom “Coach,” died on Friday at his ranch in Arkansas. He was 86.
From the beginning, Mr. Van Dyke’s television career was intertwined with his brother’s. One of his earliest TV appearances was in 1962 in a two-part episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” as Stacey Petrie, the would-be comedian brother of Dick’s character, Rob Petrie.
Mr. Van Dyke was a ham to his brother’s more dignified persona. But while Dick had runaway success early on, his brother’s career was long defined by a string of short-lived projects, like “The Judy Garland Show” and the game show “Picture This.”
The worst of those projects was the sitcom “My Mother the Car,” which ran for one notorious season on NBC beginning in September 1965.
He went on to have prominent roles in other series that did not last long, like “Accidental Family,” “Headmaster” and “13 Queens Boulevard,” and largely supported himself with his banjo-and-comedy stage show.
But in 1989 Jerry Van Dyke landed the role of Luther Van Dam, the assistant coach to Craig T. Nelson’s head football coach, Hayden Fox, on “Coach.” Van Dam, a bumbling, subservient second banana who had occasional moments of pathos, was a reliable source of laughs on the show, which ran until 1997.
Mr. Van Dyke was invited on talk shows, like “Late Show With David Letterman,” and was nominated for four Emmys for supporting actor for playing Van Dam, but he never won any.
He told USA Today in 1990 that he was thrilled to get some recognition after his meandering career.
“Everybody talks about me making a comeback,” he said. “I say: ‘Comeback from what? This is as good as it’s ever been.’”