Q: I've always wondered why Dick Van Dyke played Mr. Dawes, Sr. in Mary Poppins. I understand why in films like The Wizard of Oz, for instance, Margaret Hamilton played the Wicked Witch and Miss Gulch, or Christopher Reeve played Clark Kent and Superman — it's integral/connected to the stories. But I've never been able to figure out the meaning of the dual Van Dyke roles.
Steve, Rochester Hills, Michigan
A [Dave Smith]: Supposedly, Dick Van Dyke very much wanted to play Mr. Dawes, Sr. and even prepared a screen test to show Walt Disney that he could believably portray the old man.