Here's what happened to Rob & Laura after The Dick Van Dyke Show ended
The show came to a close, but the characters kept on living.
When a TV show ends, there are usually lots of questions left unanswered. Did Sam and Diane make the right decision? Will Hawkeye recover from the tragedies of war? Did The Sopranos actually end like that, or did my cable just cut out? Sure, it's fun to make up our own answers and wonder about lives we don't see. But, it's also much more satisfying when the show's creators fill in the blanks for us, especially if they do a great job.
At the conclusion of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Rob Petrie has just finished writing a book, "Untitled: A Series of Terribly Important Events in the Fairly Unimportant Life of Robert S. Petrie." His wife, Laura, loves it. The publisher he sent it to, on the other hand, wasn't as kind. The rejection doesn't last too long though, as Rob's boss, Alan Brady, buys the transcript rights and turns the book about Rob's life into a new television series. Even though the finale mostly plays out in flashbacks, the story ends in an enjoyable enough way. We've watched Rob struggle for five years, and now he's getting a moment in the sun.
The next chapter of The Dick Van Dyke Show saw the show's cast and creator growing larger than the characters they brought to life. Mary Tyler Moore went on to anchor her own series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a show which, as described by The New York Times, "helped define a new vision of American womanhood." She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress after her performance in Ordinary People. Dick Van Dyke starred in the Roald Dahl-penned Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, before returning to TV with The New Dick Van Dyke Show. Series creator Carl Reiner, too, saw greater demand for his work, writing and directing a series of successful movies, and building a strong collaborative relationship with Steve Martin.
Wouldn't it have been pleasing to follow Rob and Laura Petrie's lives the same way fans were able to keep up with these actors? Were they as successful as their real-life counterparts? Did their careers reach the same heights? Whatever happened to Sally?
Luckily, audiences were treated to some more time with the Petries in 2004's The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited. The best part? This wasn't a look back with the actors. It wasn't the cast sitting on a stage reminiscing. It was more story. Viewers got to revisit the characters we love, stepping into the Petrie home for a peek at what happened in the meantime.
It's been forty years, and Rob is definitely not commuting back and forth from New Rochelle anymore. Now, he and Laura live permanently in Manhattan, where she runs a ballet studio in their apartment. Laura teaches dance students while, in an example of art imitating life, Rob tinkers away at his computer. Laura's one wish is to teach at a studio on Broadway.
The supporting characters join the mix when old boss Alan Brady phones Rob and former co-worker Sally. Brady, who's not even sick, has asked to hire Rob and Sally to write his eulogy. It's an offer Rob can't refuse, given how much money Brady is offering. Not only does the story give Rob an excuse to write more jokes, but it also gives the show an excuse to check back in with Rose Marie's Sally. Dick Van Dyke's brother Jerry is back too, as Stacey. The crew looks back on the characters who can't be there, due to the passing of both Morey Amsterdam and Richard Deacon.
Just how spry the cast was 40 years on definitely surprised audiences. Dick Van Dyke still had some pratfalls left in the tank, and Mary Tyler Moore looked better than ever.
"He created a wonderful life for Laura," Mary Tyler Moore said of writer Carl Reiner in an interview with news affiliate network Zap2it in 2004. "She teaches youngsters in a small studio in the apartment with Rob, and it's something she does with great devotion."
"I was excited about just the concept. Then I saw the script, I became even more excited. The doing of it was the most fun any of us have had in years. I can't help but feel unless there is a covey of gremlins in the editing room determined to ruin it, this will be the best reunion show of all time."