"What a kick!" says Van Dyke, recounting palling around with Mickey Mouse and receiving a serenade from the L.A. Philharmonic. "We were treated like royalty."
There's more adulation in store for him Jan. 27, when the Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis Murder star will receive the Life Achievement Award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards (airing on TNT and TBS). "This was a surprise," he confesses. "People think of me as a song and dance entertainer. To be accepted by my peers as an actor is really a thrill."
The night will be special for another reason as well: He and his wife, 41, first met at the 2006 SAG Awards, where she was doing makeup.
"There was something about her beautiful eyes," Van Dyke recalls. Unfamiliar with his work, "I knew him, I just didn't know how I knew him," says Arlene. "I like that I knew him as a man before I knew him as a performer."
The 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awardswill air live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 27, at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.