‘Coach’ Actor Jerry Van Dyke Dead at 86

Jerry Van Dyke
ABC via Getty Images

Jerry Van Dyke, best known for his role as Luther Van Dam in the long-running sitcom Coach and younger brother of Dick Van Dyke, died Friday in Arkansas, according to multiple reports. He was 86.

Jerry's wife, Shirley Ann Jones, told New York Timesthat the actor and comedian's health had been deteriorating since a 2015 traffic accident.

Born in 1931, Jerry began his career as a stand-up comedian, making his TV debut in the series G.E. True in 1962. He also appeared on his brother's The Dick Van Dyke Show as Stacey Petrie and various other sitcoms including Accidental Family,Headmaster, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, 13 Queen Boulevard and The Drew Carey Show.

It wasn't until he landed the role of Luther on Coach in 1989 that he gained prominent fame. The ABC sitcom ran for nine seasons, ending its run in 1997. After Coach he had roles in My Name is Earl, Raising Hope, The Millers and most recently as Tag Spence, Patricia Heaton's TV dad, in The Middle.

Upon hearing the news of his passing, Heaton took to Twitter to express her condolences and share her memories with the actor.

"Much love to my wonderful TV dad #jerryvandyke and condolences to my TV dad-in-law #dickvandyke. Jerry, you were hilarious and terrifically talented - what an honor to be able to watch up close as you and your brother create your special magic. Rest In Peace Jerry...," she wrote.

Dawn Wells, who also worked with Jerry on Fantasy Island, said in a statement to ET, "First to be considered for the character of Gilligan on Gilligan's Island. One of Hollywood's funniest, kindest and personable comedians. He was a JOY to work with. He will be missed."

Actor Ronnie Schell from Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. also expressed his sadness.

"Yesterday I lost a long time buddy. He was a very talented comedic actor and we worked in night clubs over the years as well as comedy shows in the air force together," he said in a statement to ET. "He was my best man at my wedding.  I always knew he was funnier than his brother Dick. I miss him."

Jerry is survived by his wife, Shirley, daughter, Jerri Lynne, and son, Ronald, from a previous marriage, and two grandchildren. His other daughter, Kelly, died in 1991.


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