Margie Willett was the ex-wife of iconic American comedian, actor, producer, singer and writer Dick Van Dyke, whose Hollywood career spans over six decades. The two were married for 36 years and had 4 children. The marriage broke down due to infidelity. The couple lived separately for the last eight years of the marriage before it was finally annulled in 1984. She died in 2008 at the age of 81.
Margie Willett Bio
She was born Marjorie Willet in the year 1927. She grew up in Danville, Illinois where she met Van Dyke in 1947. The two lovebirds got engaged after dating for a month and moved to Los Angeles where they got married before an audience of millions.
Margie Willett was a very private person as she never revealed much about her life. Even after she got married to one of Hollywood’s most prominent figures, she still kept her life and her children away from the paparazzi. Unlike regular celebrity wives, Margie protected her children from the public eye so they could maintain a normal life.
Margie Willett’s Married Life
Margie Willett was married to Dick Van Dyke. The couple dated for just one month before tying the knot in 1948. While they were married, both Margie and Van Dyke suffered from addiction. She was addicted to prescription drugs while her former husband was addicted to alcohol. The couple sought treatment for their addictions at the same rehabilitation centre. This was revealed in the latest edition of Van Dyke’s memoir Keep Moving.
However, her former husband fell into an extramarital affair with his agent’s secretary Michelle Triola. The affair remained a secret till Van Dyke decided to come clean about the affair in 1976, he could no longer bear the guilt. He went as far as paying Michelle Triola the six-figure amount she sued for in her unsuccessful “palimony” suit against actor Lee Marvin, her former live-in partner. The word “palimony” was actually coined during that infamous lawsuit. That payment was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. As a result, the couple decided to go their separate ways as the marriage officially ended in 1984.
After the divorce, Margie Willett remained unmarried while her ex-husband carried on with his partner Michelle Triola. The relationship lasted for 30 years. It ended in 2009 when Michelle died of lung cancer.
Van Dyke stayed single for a while before he found love again with his much younger makeup artist Arlene Silver. At the time of their wedding in 2012, Van Dyke was 86 while Arlene was 40. Indeed age is just a number.
Margie Willett’s Family
Margie Willett and Dick Van Dyke had a total of four children during their marriage, they include Barry, Carrie Beth, Stacy and Christian. Earlier in the marriage, Margie suffered a miscarriage in which she lost twins. She also has a total of ten grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Her son Barry Van Dyke is also an actor, just like his dad. He is best known for the series Diagnosis: Murder in which his character Lieutenant Detective Steve Sloan was a son of his real-life dad’s character, Dr Mark Sloan.
Margie Willett was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007. She passed on in 2008. Even though they were long divorced, her ex-husband admitted that Margie’s death was heartbreaking for him.
Quick Facts About Margie Willet
- The couple wedded during a live broadcast of the radio show “Bride and Groom.” Well, turned out Van Dyke and his bride were too broke to have a wedding. So, when the producer of the radio show offered to pay for the wedding if they would tie the knot on his show, they couldn’t turn down the offer. Who would anyway!
- Their honeymoon was also paid for by the same generous radio producer!
- It was a humble beginning for the Van Dykes as they couldn’t afford a home after their wedding. They had to live in their car for a while.
- Margie Willett didn’t like Hollywood. Even though she was married to one of Tinsel town’s most beloved stars for over 3 decades, she still didn’t fancy it. In the wake of her stint in rehab for drug addiction, she moved into the family’s ranch in the desert.