Jerry Van Dyke, comedian, actor, four-time Emmy nominee, and the younger brother of actor Dick Van Dyke, died Jan. 5 at his Hot Springs County ranch in Arkansas. Jerry was 86.
By his side at the time of death was his wife, Shirley Ann Jones. She informed The New York Times that his health had declined after a traffic accident in 2015.
Jerry's acting career began alongside his brother's in the late 1950s. He even made appearances on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" in 1962. But throughout his acting career, his most prominent role was likely as the disoriented assistant coach Luther Van Dam on the hit ABC series "Coach," where he earned his four Emmy nominations.
Before that, he played many roles in short-lived TV shows such as "Accidental Family," “Headmaster," "13 Queens Boulevard" and "My Mother the Car" -- a role he regrettably took after turning down a lead role in "Gilligan's Island," a show that became very well known.
In 1989, he landed the role on the comedy "Coach" as an assistant to Craig T. Nelson's character, Coach Hayden Fox. The duo managed the fictitious Minnesota State University Screaming Eagles football team. Jerry’s work on the show earned him four Emmy nominations for supporting actor. The show lasted until 1997.
After "Coach" ended, Jerry continued making guest appearances in sitcoms like "My Name is Earl," "Yes, Dear," and "Raising Hope," where he stuck to his comedic talents.
Jerry started his career as a comedian.
He was born five-and-a-half years after his brother on July 2, 1931, in Danville, Illinois. After traveling to California with his family, he saw one of his brother's nightclub acts in 1948. That's when Jerry decided to pursue a career in comedy.
After graduating from Danville High School, Jerry toured the Midwest doing comedy shows with a group he formed called The Jolly Frauds, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In addition to this experience, he also took courses at the University of Illinois and Eastern Illinois State Teachers' College.
Later, he joined the air force in 1953 and received the opportunity to perform for troops in Korea.
After his discharge, he hosted a half-hour TV show for the CBS affiliate in Terre Haute, Indiana.
He would then bring his talents to "The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Andy Williams Show," "The Judy Garland Show," and the CBS game show "Picture This."
His career was one of twists and turns and wins and losses, but he reportedly remained relatively cheerful about it all.
When asked about his career in a 1993 interview for People magazine, he responded, "I would like to philosophize and say what it was that kept me going, but the truth is, I can't do anything else."