It is mostly common for celebrities to have their kids walk in their shoes and more so, their first offspring. This was almost the case for Christian Van Dyke, the 73-year-old son of Dick Van Dyke.
Being the firstborn of Richard Wayne Van Dyke, it was almost expected that he would grow to be an actor and comedian just like his father. Well, he started off that way but after a few stints in front of the camera, he decided against it and pursued a different career path.
Nonetheless, his father and mother were still very supportive of his career choice when he rose to become district attorney after graduating from Law school.
They were more proud when their first son got married and began his own family too until tragedy struck in 1987, with the death of his daughter.
Dick Van Dyke’s Son, Christian, is the First of His 4 Children
Christian, like most of the Van Dyke family members, started off in the entertainment field. As a young boy born to a rising American actor, he got the opportunity to feature in his father’s earliest movies.
He was born on May 13, 1950, in Atlanta to Richard Wayne Van Dyke and Margie Willet. He is the first of his parent’s 4 kids and has younger siblings named Barry Van Dyke, Stacy Van Dyke, and Carrie Beth Van Dyke.
His father had roots traced back to England, Scotland, Germany, Ireland, and more countries and so that makes him of mixed ethnicity.
Christian Van Dyke is a well-educated man who attended Buckley School located in Los Angeles in the late 1960s. Upon graduation, he went on to further his education at Occidental College located in the same city of Los Angeles.
After this, Christian attended Arizona State University and earned himself a degree in Law when he was done with his studies.
It is most likely in college that Christian decision to deviate from entertainment was sealed. He began to tow a different path other than what his legendary father was known for.
Christian Van Dyke Did Not Totally Tow His Father’s Entertainment Path
He has acting credits in just a few movies and series after joining his father’s showbiz in 1961. His first role was as Frankie when he appeared in an episode on The Dick Van Dyke Show. He also had roles in Hollywood Goes to a World Premiere (1964), and The Dick Van Dyke Show – Celebrating the 60th Anniversary (2021).
The aforementioned roles are the only known, recorded television credits for Christian. After that, he made the ultimate decision to switch and focus on something else.
Dick Van Dyke’s First Son Once Ran Away from Home
Dick once referred to his first son as ‘a handful’ and tried to get him engaged in physical sports.
At Buckley, Christian played football on his father’s account.
One time, when Christian was still a very young boy, he proved to his parents that he could dare to be more and receive more. He made it clear that he had the tendency to be independent and stand his ground against injustice.
Young Christian had a quarrel with his younger brother, Barry, and was dissatisfied with the way his mother handled the situation. He felt that his mother, Margie was biased and took his brother’s side and this made him unhappy.
As a result of this perceived injustice, Christian ran away from home and caused quite a stir. He got his parents very scared and worried about him even to the point that they involved the police.
A search began for the young Chris who was eventually found sleeping under the shade of a tree in the woods.
According to Dick Van Dyke, the experience, though terrifying at the time, made him believe later on that his son could and would stand for himself. He knew then that Christian could be an independent young man who would defend himself.
Another confirmation for the Bye Bye Birdie was when Christian refused to reveal the identity of his schoolmate who once attacked him. The first boy-son of Margie concealed the identity of the boy and chose to handle the situation by himself.
The 73–year-old Pursued a Career in Law and Legal Practices
There is a pointer to why Christian Van Dyke chose to study and practice law. The story just told is a representation of how much younger Chris couldn’t take injustice. Even though his method of fighting it at the time didn’t seem like the best, he eventually found a better route and took it.
As earlier stated, Dick’s first son studied law at Arizona State University. He got to work as a deputy district attorney in Corvallis and subsequently as an assistant attorney general in Salem.
In 1980, he was made the district attorney in Marion County and this marked an impressive achievement for him. His parents and family were there to witness this huge moment in Christian’s career.
However, he resigned from the position 3 years later but not without leaving an indelible mark during his tenure. Most people noted that he shared a certain trait with his father and that was his comic and witty mind and mouth. He was wont to make people laugh and happy when he was in the mood.
Over the following years, Christian worked with a couple of famous brands and organizations. He served as a legal adviser in his roles with those brands.
While working with the famous clothing brand, NIKE, Christian Van Dyke oversaw product management and brand marketing.
When his job with Nike was done, he went on to serve as a board member in Bend as he lived in Oregon. He also worked with Patagonia, serving as the vice president of marketing, and then World Wildlife Fund.
On his own, he established Songlines Communications. His contributions to non-profit causes as well as social change organizations are aimed at developing and implementing communication strategies that would be beneficial to his organization.
Christian Van Dyke, Just Like His Father, Married a Woman Uninterested in Fame
According to Dick Van Dyke’s son’s IMDB page, he was married twice. However, most sites only reference his wife, Caroline A. (Young) Heller. Nonetheless, the name of the supposed other wife is Christian S. Shihadeh whom he was purportedly married to on August 12, 1988. His marriage to Caroline happened on August 22, 1970.
His wife, Caroline doesn’t seem to enjoy the spotlight nor want to be in it. This is a similarity she shares with Dick Van Dyke’s wife who chose to be out of the spotlight despite being married to her actor husband for 36 years.
Christian and Caroline Heller had a daughter whose identity was revealed, briefly. She was named Jessica Lee Van Dyke and was born in 1974.
They went on to have at least 2 other kids whose identities, they kept quite private.
He Suffered the Loss of His First Child
In 1984, Christian and Caroline suffered the death of their first child together. According to a report, Jessica Lee contracted chicken pox which unfortunately led to her suffering from complications from Reye’s syndrome.
The young child died at the age of 13 in April 1987.
This loss greatly affected not just Christian and his wife but also his father, the Mary Poppins actor. Dick had very fond memories of his granddaughter saying she was an intelligent and bright young girl who always had questions about life.