Dick Van Dyke. The star of Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Bye Bye Birdie and Diagnosis Murder. He was “Chairman of TV LAND”, loaned his voice to the animated Curious George (2006) and Tubby The Tuba (1976) and was, of course, Rob Petrie of the classic The Dick Van Dyke Show.But in 1956, Van Dyke was a struggling actor making his way in New York. One of his early breaks was signing a contract with CBS, and the opportunity to host a CBS network prime time TV series. However, the program in question turned out to be a showcase for the network’s newly acquired animation library, with Van Dyke playing straightman to a collection of vintage Terrytoons.CBS CARTOON THEATRE was a summer replacement series, which debuted on Wednesday June 13, 1956 and lasted three months in primetime (it aired from 7:30 to 8pm). It was clearly aimed at kids. CBS has purchased the Terrytoons studio and cartoon library in 1955 and was in the midst of revamping the operation. CBS was also competing with ABC, who had a big gun – Walt Disney – winning the ratings on Wednesday nights . CBS CARTOON THEATRE was offering new cartoon entertainment directly opposite Disneyland reruns. But having an appealing host in an office setting (the same set-up as the Disney hour), didn’t fool anyone. These were lowball Terrytoons, not Disney mini masterpieces. Thankfully they had the personable Van Dyke – could you imagine Paul Terry himself hosting this cheap knock off?These clips are from the seventh broadcast, from July, 27th 1956, almost 50 years ago exactly. The show was never rerun, but thanks to the miracle of You Tube we are able to present excerpts from this rare show.I have no doubt Van Dyke’s conversing with Dinky Duck and Gandy Goose gave his dancing with Penguin waiters in Mary Poppins more depth.Below is the final segment – including end titles animated by Jim Tyer.For the record: CBS-Viacom still owns the Terrytoons today. And they could still run the 13 episodes of CBS CARTOON THEATRE on Nick-at-Nite or TV Land if they wanted to.