Saturday, February 2, 2019

Whatever happened to Larry Matthews (Richie Petrie on "The Dick Van Dyke Show")

Larry Matthews as a child actor

There are currently only three surviving cast members from the classic Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966).  One of them is the immensely talented Dick Van Dyke, who played Rob Petrie, head writer for The Alan Brady Show.  Dick is 93 years old and recently attended the Golden Globe Awards.  He also appears in the 2018 film Mary Poppins Returns, in which the nonagenarian dances on a desk.

Dick's younger brother, Jerry Van Dyke, guest-starred as Rob's brother Stacey in a few episodes of the show.  Jerry died on on January 5, 2018.  He was 86 years old.  Mary Tyler Moore, who portrayed Rob's wife, Laura, passed away on January 25, 2017 at the age of 80.  Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie, Rob's co-workers, Buddy Sorrell and Sally Rogers, have also passed away.  Morey died on October 27, 1996 at the age of 87.  Rose Marie died on December 28. 2017 at 94.

Jerry Paris, played Rob and Laura's next-door-neighbour, Dr. Jerry Helper, a dentist.  Jerry Paris went on to be a prominent television and film director.  Sadly, he died of a brain tumour on March 31, 1986 at the age of 60.  Anne Morgan Guilbert portrayed Millie Helper, Jerry's wife and Laura's best friend.  Ann passed away on June 14, 2017 at 87 years old.

Another surviving cast member is comedian Carl Reiner, the creator of The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Carl played the egotistical Alan Brady.  Born on March 20, 1922, Carl is 96.  Richard Deacon played the bald and bespectacled Mel Cooley, producer of The Alan Brady Show and Alan's son-in-law.  Richard died on August 8, 1994 at the age of 63.

Larry Matthews, the youngest member of  the The Dick Van Dyke Show cast, is now 64 years old.  Larry was just five years of age when he was chosen for the role of  Ritchie Petrie, the son of Rob and Laura Petrie.  During the course of the Van Dyke show, he only had one other acting credit to his name, a 1962 episode of The Dick Powell Theatre.


Larry with Mary and Dick

Larry was born Larry Mazzeo in Burbank, California on August 15, 1955 (He shares the same birthday as Rose Marie, who was born on August 15, 1923 (They kept in touch and talked to each other on their birthdays every year).  Unlike many child actors, Larry seems to have adjusted well to adulthood.  He regards his time on The Dick Van Dyke Show as a positive experience.and is grateful for having worked with comedy legends such as Carl Reiner, Sheldon Leonard (the producer of the show), Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie.  He has described working with them as a "treat," even though as a child, he "didn't grasp it that much."  As he grew, he said it became "very evident what was going on."

When The Dick Van Dyke Show ended in 1966, Larry left acting and completed his education.  After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1976, he worked as an account executive.  He later returned to the television industry and worked behind the scenes.  From 1979 to 1981), he was post-production coordinator for 32 episodes the TV comedy Soap, which parodied soap operas.  From 1980 to 1981, he was also post-production coordinator for two episodes of the comedy It's a Living.

Larry has appeared on a number of television programs to discuss his role on The Dick Van Dyke Show.  In 1993, he reprised his role as Ritchie Petrie in a TV special called Chairman's Choice. The special featured comedy sketches and clips of Dick Van Dyke's favourite episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Larry once again reprised his role as Ritchie in a 2004 TV reunion movie, The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited.

After learning of Mary Tyler Moore's death in 2017, Larry Matthews made the following statement to entertainment analyst Dr. Nancy Berk: "She was like a mother in a lot of ways . . . she was the figure there that I grew up with as a child . . . I'm lucky enough to have two wonderful families and Mary being a huge part of that."

Larry last saw Mary in 2004, when they filmed The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited.  In a conversation with Nancy Berk, he recalled how during a lunch break between filming, she complimented him on his acting and his character.  Then, he described how Mary later approached his mother, who was with him, and told her that she had an amazing son and that she should be proud of him.

Despite Mary Tyler Moore's glowing praise, Larry Matthews did not always receive rave reviews. In a May 23, 1994 article for The Deseret News ("Fondly Remembering Dick Van Dyke"), regarding the Van Dyke reunion movie, Scott D. Pierce wrote "Wisely, little attention is played to the Petrie's son, Richie, because Larry Matthews was one of the worst child actors in television history."  Ouch!

Larry had a strong connection with Morey Amsterdam.  In a 2014 interview with Nancy Berk, he described Morey as "one of the most wonderful people in the world."  "Everything was up.  Everything was positive.  He made you laugh.and he cared about you," Larry told Berk.


END NOTES

* Larry Matthews as been married to his wife, Jennifer, since 1987.

*  Larry sings "Little Drummer Boy" in a Christmas episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show entitled "The Alan Brady Presents" (Season 3, Episode 13, Air Date: December 18, 1963).  The episode was directed by Jerry Paris.

* According to IMDb, Larry owns the desk used as a prop by Carl Reiner on The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Also, according to IMDb, Larry had a private tutor during the filming of the show.  He returned to a traditional classroom once filming was completed for the season.

* Larry appeared in a 2011 short film called A Day in the Life of Plain Jen.

Larry Matthews

Larry with Dick Van Dyke in 2009 (image: sulekha.com

SOURCES: Parade.com, "Growing Up with Mary Tyler Moore: The Dick Van Dyke Show's Larry Matthews Shares Memories of His TV Mom," January 25, 2017, by Dr. Nancy Berk; Parade.com, "Showbiz Analysis with The Dick Van Dyke Show's Larry Matthews," June 5, 2014, by Dr. Nancy Berk; The Motion Pictures (themotionpictures.net), "Where did they go?: Larry Matthews aka Ritchie Petrie, by Lindsey; International Movie Data Base (IMDb.com); Wikipedia


- Joanne

3 comments:

  1. I vehemently disagree with the critic who was quoted as saying that Larry Matthews was the worst childhood actor in television history. In my opinion he was terrific and enhanced the Dick Van Dyke show with his adorable and believable portrayal of Richie Petrie. I thought he had great comic timing and delivery.

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  2. I thought Larry Matthews was adorable as well. He was so cute and acted wonderfully.

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  3. Me too, he rocked. Critic is an ass. So cute and he always did very well and made me laugh or smile. Yoynwould feel his humor when he delivered his lines and instill enjoy Tue reruns. So do my kids, ranging from early twenties to early 30s. Richie, if toy read this, we are the majority of America. The critic was a jerk. Xo,
    a Mom💟

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