Dick and Jerry Van Dyke are two bright stars of show business in an impressive firmament of luminaries from our town.

Helen Morgan, Bobby Short, Donald O'Connor and Gene Hackman all called Danville their hometown. But Dick and Jerry are distinctly Red Mask's own.

Part of this is due to the fact that both made their adult stage debuts before Red Mask footlights. Another is that despite achieving nation-wide recognition, they never have forgotten Danville and the friends who "knew them when."

In October of 1962, Jerry came home to a testimonial luncheon at Connor's.

His appearance raised several hundred badly needed dollars for Red Mask.

And the following March 16, Dick was honored with a "Dick Van Dyke Day" celebration, complete with parade. That night he appeared before a packed DHS auditorium, thanks to an arrangement with Danville Junior College (as it was known then), which had scheduled its "Kollege Kapers" for that date. Net receipts from the benefit show were nearly $6,400 -- enough for Red Mask to exercise its option to buy the present Kathryn Randolph Theater.

Many of us never will forget that when the chips were down, the Van Dyke brothers came through for Red Mask.