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EXCLUSIVE Dick van Dyke, 95, on His Kennedy Center Honor: "I never thought I'd live this lo

• by Roger Friedman

How is he, I ask, when I get him on the phone? I've wanted to do an interview with Dick van Dyke for a long time.

"I'm circling the drain," he jokes. "I never thought I'd live this long. I don't know how I did it."

Except for a serious battle with alcoholism that he won years ago, van Dyke has survived literally by living well. It's the best revenge. Reading his memoir, "My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business," you get the picture right away: a long first marriage, a long second relationship, a happy family, long friendships.

He tells me in a phone call that Chita Rivera, his co-star 60 years ago in "Bye Bye Birdie" on stage and screen, will give him the Kennedy Center prize. She's only 88, a youngster.

I asked Dick about his recent splash in the news. He was seen in Malibu handing out cash at a community center. "This has been the hardest year," he says. "I usually hand out coats. Sometimes I give out cash. This time, the paparazzi found me."