Though it was a scary experience, Van Dykes admits there was an upside, telling Bush, “I’ve never had more PR.”
The legendary actor says he knew something was wrong when he started seeing smoke coming from the car. “I called up Triple A, and tried to tell them,” says Van Dyke. “And then I saw flames coming out, and I said, ‘Never mind.'”
As he leaned down to gather his belongings from the floor board of the vehicle, a “Good Samaritan,” who could only see a white-haired man slumped over in the seat, stopped and yanked Van Dyke out of the car.
“The funny thing is, the fire department was there in about 12 minutes,” Van Dyke says. “The paparazzi was there in 10. They’ve got a network.” Of course he kept his legendary sense of humor throughout the traumatic event. Van Dyke tells Bush, “I tried to sell [the car] to the fireman before it was gone.”
Media reports of Van Dyke’s experience spread like wildfire, and Jaguar sent the actor a loaner car the very next day.