Morey Amsterdam, whose perfectly timed one-liners carried him from vaudeville to the role of a wisecracking television writer on "The Dick Van Dyke Show," died of a heart attack.

Various Hollywood reference books listed his birthday as Dec. 14 in 1912 or 1914, making him 81 or 83. His former co-star Rose Marie said he was 87."He was just a very dear sweet man," said Rose Marie, who played Sally Rogers on "The Dick Van Dyke Show." "He knew every joke; he knew every switch on every joke. His mind was the greatest mind that ever happened."

Amsterdam suffered a heart attack at home and died at Cedars Sinai Medical Center early Monday, said hospital spokesman Ron Wise.

Born in Chicago, Amsterdam started in vaudeville and performed in nightclubs before doing radio in the 1930s. In the late 1940s, he moved to television.

Amsterdam played Buddy Sorrell, part of a television writing team that included Dick Van Dyke and Rose Marie, on the 1960s hit sitcom.

"There was something ageless with him. Probably 100,000 jokes in his head went with him," Van Dyke said.

Rose Marie met Amsterdam when she was 11 during the musical variety show the "Alice Pearce Show." The pair remained friends and recently did a spot for "Caroline in the City." He was also writing a book, "All About Me," she said.

Amsterdam's father, a member of the San Francisco Symphony, wanted his son to be a concert musician. Instead, the young Amsterdam used his cello in his comedy routines.

He is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Kay, and two children, Gregory and Cathy.