Dick Van Dyke: Porpoises Saved My Life

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REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

He’s not kidding.

In the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Dick Van Dyke portrayed Caractacus Potts, an eccentric inventor whose creations included a flying car and candy that could be played like a flute.  Judging from his recent appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Van Dyke still carries some of Potts’ eccentricity:  he claimed on air that a group of heroic dolphins once saved him from drowning.

On the show, Ferguson asked Van Dyke if he ever surfed at his local beach in California. The 84-year old actor replied that he had given it up following a near-death experience. “I woke up out of sight of land,” the 84-year-old said. “I started paddling with the swells and I started seeing fins swimming around me and I thought ‘I’m dead!’” (See TIME’s list of the Top 10 movies that shouldn’t have made it to Broadway.)

“They turned out to be porpoises and they pushed me all the way to shore. I’m not kidding.”

During the segment, which you can watch below, he also said he was “as hot as Betty White,” asked Ferguson about the contents of haggis, and claimed that Playboy once mentioned him in an article because his name contains the words “dick” and “dyke.” The porpoise comments begin around the 8:20 mark. (Watch a video of Betty White at the TIME 100 gala.)

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