Mr. Van Dyke’s Wardrobe Furnished By Botany 500

I was, as a child, always intrigued by the end credits of the TV shows we watched that mentioned the providers of the stars’ outfits. For The Dick Van Dyke show, for example, it was always Mr. Van Dyke’s Wardrobe Furnished By Botany 500.

What was “Botany 500,” I wondered. And what did it mean that they “furnished” his wardrobe: were the clothes free, in return for the promotion in the credits? Did everything he wore come from Botany 500? Without Wikipedia, my childhood self was left to wonder.

But my adult me has ready access to the information:

Botany 500 has provided wardrobe for many game show hosts and television presenters, including Phil Donahue of The Phil Donahue Show.

In addition, the company provided the wardrobes for Danny Thomas on Make Room for Daddy, John Newland on Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond, Dick Van Dyke on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Don Adams on Get Smart, Mike Connors on Mannix, Telly Savalas on Kojak, Bob Newhart on The Bob Newhart Show, Dick Sargent on Bewitched, Brian Keith and Sebastian Cabot on Family Affair, Sherman Hemsley on The Jeffersons, Lyle Waggoner on Wonder Woman, Peter Graves on Mission: Impossible, Jack Klugman on Quincy, M.E., and Bill Macy and Conrad Bain on Maude.

Those are the men and their shows of my television youth, which explains why Botany 500, to this day, is imprinted on my branding brain.

My mind turns to such things because this week, for the first time in my life, I appeared was on TV in a more-than-just-CBC-dropping-by-unexpected kind of way, and I had to give thought to what I would wear.

Fortunately recent events conspired to prepare me.

Earlier this year when Prince Edward visited Government House to present the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, I was invited to represent Home & School. But dress was formal, said the invite, and all I had in my closet was the ill-fitting suit I kept around for wakes and funerals (purchased at Henderson & Cudmore when I was 30 pounds heavier).

On short notice, Dow’s Men Wear came to my aid, outfitting me with a sharp Calvin Klein good-for-almost-anything jacket that served me in good stead.

This summer when I was in Sweden for Olle and Luisa’s 10th wedding anniversary party, better dress was also called for, and so, with friend Jonas’s help, I located a tie dealer on the high street and purchased a beautiful striped purple tie and has similarly served me well.

For trousers I turned to my standby, a pair I purchased from Dow’s a few years ago; at the time spending that much for pants seemed crazy, but they were worth it, and they’re good for everything from walks on the beach to dinner with the Queen.

All of which is to say that if this week hand end credits, they would read:

Mr. Rukavina’s Hair by Zack Squires
Wardrobe furnished by Dow’s
Shirt by Target
Tie by John Henric
Sneakers by Rieker

Botany 500 it ain’t, but it did the job. And they never point the TV cameras at your feet.


Oliver DL R.'s picture
Oliver DL R. on September 22, 2016 - 16:57

But Encyclopaedias existed before Wikipedia. Historic Items Existed before Digital Websites and Apps and other things.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on September 22, 2016 - 23:50

That is true. But those books didn’t have the sort of popular information about things like TV shows that Wikipedia has: their focus was much more limited, and they came out much less frequently. Probably, when I was your age, I could have gone to the public library, and with a librarian’s help, found information about Botany 500 from a specialized reference, or perhaps a newspaper index. But it would have taken a long time.

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