Legendary actor Dick Van Dyke, 97, caused a ruckus on Wednesday when the gnome face came off and the audience realized that he was “The Masked Singer.”
Fox had advertised the season-opener as “the most legendary, decorated and beloved unmasking in history” — and if judge Nicole Scherzinger’s response was any indication, the advertising had been spot on: she burst into tears.
🗣 TAKE IT OFF! TAKE IT OFF! 🗣#TheMaskedSinger pic.twitter.com/aEi2sC59sf
— The Masked Singer (@MaskedSingerFOX) February 16, 2023
The “Mary Poppins” star spoke to Entertainment Weekly about his appearance on the show, admitting that he had never even seen an episode prior to being asked to do it himself — but that once he had seen how the show worked, he thought it looked like fun.
“I was so positive that nobody would ever guess it was me, that they would have somebody 97 years old on there. And the experience was weird, because they have to keep it a secret from the crew. So I walked around with my head covered with people leading me. They’ve got a nice crew, but I never got to meet any of them!” he said.
Calling the show “the weirdest thing I’ve ever done,” Van Dyke went on to describe the gnome costume, saying that he could only see out of two very small holes in the headpiece: “It’s a good thing I’m not claustrophobic.”
Once he got on stage and sang, however, people began to guess who might be behind the mask — and Van Dyke wasn’t sure about their guesses. Among them: singer Tony Bennett, actor Dustin Hoffman, and actor Robert De Niro.
“Wait a minute, those guys can’t sing,” Van Dyke laughed, adding, “Well, I felt pretty good about Tony Bennett. I wasn’t crazy about any of the other ones. But I knew that they couldn’t guess who I was. I don’t think they expected anybody from my generation to be on that show. So I knew I was gonna fool them. They were so surprised. I stepped out and everybody’s mouths dropped open. I think some people thought I was dead.”
Once the mask came off, however, Scherzinger had the strongest reaction: she cried. “I love you so much, we love you, the whole world loves you so much. It’s an honor to have you on our show. I can’t believe you’re here, I’m trying to play it cool. You look so gorgeous, you look so handsome,” she said, adding, “You’re our childhood!”
Previous reveals have also sparked strong reactions from the panel — when former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was unmasked, panelist Ken Jeong walked off the stage.