Arlene & The Vantastix? Who could they be? There’s a clue in the name. Vantastix is a pun on the surname of the legendary actor and performer Dick Van Dyke. For Americans, Van Dyke has been a presence on radio, stage, tv, and the silver screen for a good 65 years. Those outside the US know him best from his movies. Arlene Silver is Van Dyke’s wife.
The couple met when Silver worked as a makeup artist at the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, 2006. Van Dyke later hired her as a makeup artist, though it was only after the death of Van Dyke’s 2nd wife that romance blossomed. Both Silver and Van Dyke love singing and dancing and it is integral to their bond, as is evident in this fun and charming video.
Everybody Loves a Lover (lyrics Richard Adler, music Robert Allen) was first recorded by Doris Day. The song was substantially rearranged for the Shirelles 1962 release, and this version provided the template for many later versions of the song. Nonetheless, Arlene & The Vantastix follow the Doris Day original, which is not surprising as the Vantastix are a barbershop quartet formed by Van Dyke in 2000. The song starts off with a finger-poppin’ groove, and Arlene sounds sassy and sparkling.
As good as Alene Silver is, the song jumps up a level at the 36s mark when a familiar sonorous male voice starts scatting in the background. This is Dick Van Dyke, of course. Pretty soon Van Dyke, who is in remarkably good voice for a 96-year-old, takes a verse before the rest of the Vantastix start harmonising and trumpeter Tony Guerrero walks on. The song is a delicious confection enhanced by the memories evoked by Van Dyke’s voice and phrasing. So how does it compare to the Doris Day original?
You can certainly see why the song is a favorite of Alene Silver and Dick Van Dyke. Doris Day is phenomenol in the video, and the song is fantastic. One can imagine Alene and Dick singing the song together in their kitchen. As Van Dyke told PEOPLE magazine in 2015, “My wife is a good singer and dancer so there’s a lot of singing and dancing going on around here. I got up the other morning, she was in the kitchen doing the dishes and she had her tap shoes on, and she was tap dancing while she was doing the dishes!”
It is no secret that Arlene Silver is 46 years younger than her husband. In this regard, Van Dyke quipped soon after their 2012 marriage that Arlene is very mature for her age, while he is immature for his, “so it is just about right” and one of the smartest moves he ever made.
The Arlene Silver directed video for Arlene & The Vantastix’s Everybody Loves a Lover was filmed at an LA art installation by David Allen Burns and Austin Young (aka Fallen Fruit) called SUPERSHOW. The video is full of nods and winks to Dick Van Dyke performances, but two are particularly noteworthy. In the opening credits to the Dick Van Dyke show (CBS, 1961 -1967), Van Dyke trips over an ottoman for comic effect. Near the end of the Arlene & The Vantastix video, Van Dyke deftly avoids an ottoman with a side-stepping dance move. The other detail: everyone wears sweaters from the line of sweaters Van Dyke released in the 1960s (The Dick Van Dyke Collection). The video release was timed for Valentine’s Day 2022, with the bonus that Silver and Van Dyke’s wedding anniversary falls on 29 February. (They married in a leap year; other years they celebrate on the 28th).
Besides Dick van Dyke, the Vantastix comprises Eric Bradley, Bryan Chadima and Mike Mendyke. They are frequently joined by Arlene Silver.
Dick Van Dyke’s many movies include Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Mary Poppins (1964), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), The Comic (1969), Night at the Museum (2006), and Mary Poppins Returns (2018). If you would like to see more from Arlene Silver, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel