Season 9 of the hit competition singing show The Masked Singer premiered February 15, and a musical star of stage and screen was the first unveiled. Spoilers ahead!
Tony, Emmy, and Grammy winner Dick Van Dyke was unmasked on the show as The Gnome, a large shell-like mascot figure featuring a red-nosed gnome with a highly detailed mossy clock and cap. His reveal garnered an immediate standing ovation, with judges Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, and Robin Thicke climbing atop the panel desk while fellow judge Nicole Scherzinger burst into tears.
Van Dyke is the most awarded celebrity in the history of the competition show, and also the oldest, at 97 years old. Van Dyke was the first to be unmasked in the season, stumping the judges, who had guessed Tony Bennett, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert DeNiro.
As a part of his secret package, Van Dyke performed "When You're Smiling" by Billie Holiday, provided the clue that he was a Kennedy Center Honoree, and presented the following hint-filled voiceover.
"Just like a wise magical gnome observing the forest around him, I’ve become a mainstay of your lives over the course of my storied career. Just ask the producers. I really have done it all. I’ve joked with the cleverest of comedians, from Robin Williams to Ben Stiller. I’ve performed with the biggest names in music, from Lin-Manuel Miranda to Madonna. And my address book includes all the president’s men, from Barack to Biden. But there’s always more to do, especially when you’re working for the fun of it. Because being a true entertainer isn’t about money or awards, it’s about going to bed every night having put a smile on someone’s face. And being proud of what you’ve done."
Bye Bye Birdie Tony winner Van Dyke was nominated for a Golden Globe for creating the role of chimney sweep Bert opposite Oscar winner Julie Andrews in the 1964 film Mary Poppins. The veteran actor has starred in several TV series, including The Dick Van Dyke Show, The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Van Dyke and Company, and Diagnosis Murder. He has also been seen on the silver screen in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Dick Tracy, and his additional theatrical credits include The Girls Against the Boys and The Music Man.
Watch below to see Van Dyke perform in the custom-built costume.