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At 96 years of age, Dick Van Dyke is one of the oldest Hollywood legend that we are blessed to still have with us. However, many fans will likely be surprised to learn that he probably wouldn’t be around today were it not for a pod of porpoises that he credits with saving his life!

But first, last week marked the 61st anniversary of the premiere of The Dick Van Dyke Show, which continues to be beloved by millions of fans to this day.

How Porpoises Saved Van Dyke’s Life

In an interview with the television personality Craig Ferguson, Van Dyke once recalled how a leisurely trip to the beach nearly killed him. It all started during a trip to Virginia Beach on the east coast, where Van Dyke decided to take a 10ft “long board” out on the water. Things took a turn when Van Dyke decided to rest on the surfboard and ended up falling asleep, and when he woke up, he was horrified to realize that he could no longer see land.

“I went out once and fell asleep on that board and I woke up out of sight of land,” the Mary Poppins star recalled, according to Daily Mail. “And I looked around and I started paddling with the swells, and I started seeing fins swimming around me. I thought, ‘I’m dead!'”

Being a surfer himself, Van Dyke understandably feared the worst when he saw the fins but, luckily for him, they turned out to belong to a pod of friendly porpoises who were all too eager to help him!

“They turned out to be porpoises,” he said. “And they pushed me all the way to shore. I’m not kidding!”

Though Van Dyke didn’t say what year this incident took place in, he assured Ferguson that he “doesn’t surf any more.”

Related: Dick Van Dyke ‘Just Glad To Still Be Here’ At 96

Check out Van Dyke tell this story for yourself by starting at around the 27:08 mark in the video below. 

Van Dyke Is ‘Looking Forward To 100’

Thankfully, Van Dyke managed to survive this terrifying incident, and he is set to celebrate his 97th birthday in December. In an interview with CBS Mornings last year, Van Dyke made it clear that he is still loving life, adding that he is “looking forward to 100.” 

“I’m 95, and a lot of my friends won’t do these,” he said as he showed off the fitness regime that he partly credits his longevity to. “… So all you old guys out there, listen to me, I’m telling you: You can keep going for a long— I’m still dancing! And singing!”

“I’m looking forward to 100,” he declared later in the interview. “George Burns made it, and I’m gonna do it too!”

George Burns was another comedic actor from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and he passed away in 1996 at the age of 100. Given how fit and happy Van Dyke seems in the video below, it seems that he might make it to an even older age than that!

Related: Dick Van Dyke, 96, Already Gearing Up For Halloween At Start Of August

‘The Point Is To Enjoy’

In a 2015 interview with NPR, Van Dyke talked about how a positive mentality also plays a huge role in making it to an old age. 

“The point is to enjoy,” he said at the time. “You have to pick what you enjoy doing, what fulfills you, what interests you. And I realize that’s not possible for a lot of people. As Thoreau said, a lot of people are living lives of quiet desperation. But almost anyone can find that one immersing hobby or pastime that they love to do.”

We’re sure glad that those porpoises stepped up to help on that fateful day in Virginia Beach, because we love that Van Dyke is still here with us enjoying life. Here’s hoping that he has many years of fun in him to come!

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