05/16/2011 at 01:00 AM EDT
Over the dining table in his Malibu home, Dick Van Dyke confides something utterly unsurprising: "There are no scandals in this book," he says with a twinkling earnestness familiar to anyone who grew up on his family-friendly fare, from Mary Poppins to Night at the Museum. A first-time author at 85, Van Dyke is forthcoming about his long-ago battle with alcoholism and the long-term relationship that ended his marriage ("there was never any animosity"). But much of My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business recalls good times, like laughing with Mary Tyler Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Looking back, he says, "I realized that I had a good life."
THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW
"People assumed we were married," he says of costar Moore (in 1962). "I'd check into a hotel with my [real] wife, and they would say, 'Who's this?'"
"I don't know which birthday this is," says Van Dyke (in front of his family's home). "But in those days it was 50 cents a ride."
"I loved working with kids," Van Dyke says of movies like 1968's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. "You do a lot of clowning and get to know them." In the '90s, he acted with his grown children on Diagnosis Murder. "We loved working together."