Debbie McFadden

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Jerry Van Dyke, star of ‘Coach,’ Has Died At Age 86

Jerry Van Dyke, who emerged from the shadow of his older brother Dick to forge a successful comedy and acting career of his own, most memorably on the sitcom "Coach," reportedly died Friday at his home in Arkansas. He was 86.

Van Dyke's wife Shirley told TMZ that her husband's health had been slowly deteriorating since the couple was involved in a car accident two years ago.

Van Dyke was born in Illinois, and launched his career as a comedian by joining the touring ensemble in the Air Force.

"In the service, you can steal other people's material," Dick said in 2015 of realizing his brother's talent for the first time. "I didn't realize how good he was. The main thing about Jerry is that he's funny from the inside out."

He soon launched a television career, appearing on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" for a handful of episodes as Stacey Petrie, the military younger brother of Dick's Rob Petrie.

In the 1960s, he headlined two short-lived NBC sitcoms: "My Mother the Car," which ran from 1965 to 1966, and "Accidentally Family," from 1967 to 1968.

“I became known as the guy who did the worst show in the history of television,” he joked to People of “Mother” in 1993. “At least it took the edge off being Dick Van Dyke’s brother.”

In the years following, Van Dyke rounded out his resume with stints on dozens of popular TV shows, including "The Ed Sullivan Show," "Charles In Charge," "The Love Boat," "My Name Is Earl," and "Yes, Dear," where he appeared as the father of Jim Belushi's character.

However, his best known role came as Luther Van Dam on "Coach," a sitcom which ran from 1989 to 1997 on ABC.

Van Dyke scored four Emmy nominations for his role as an assisant coach for a college football team alongside Craig T. Nelson.

More recently, Van Dyke starred in a guest spot on ABC sitcom "The Middle" as Tag Spence, the father of Patricia Heaton's Frankie Heck.

In 2015, brother Dick appeared alongside him in an episode as his character's brother.

"We are becoming closer. I'm really getting to know him better at this age," Jerry said that year of working with his brother. "The nicer he is to me, the more I think he thinks I'm going to die."

Van Dyke is survived by Shirley, his wife of 40 years, and two children.

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