Dick Van Dyke Rescued at Sea by Porpoises

Credit: Paul Redmond/WireImage.com

It sounds like a magical scene right out of Mary Poppins, but Dick Van Dyke claims he once avoided drowning at sea thanks to a pod of friendly porpoises.

"I'm not kidding," the legendary entertainer, 84, said during a Wednesday appearance on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.

His harrowing ordeal began at his local beach; after hitting the waves, Van Dyke dozed off on his surfboard. Next thing he knew, "I woke up out of sight of land," he said.

"I started paddling with the swells and I started seeing fins swimming around me and I thought 'I'm dead!'"

Instead of sharks, however, the aquatic creatures "turned out to be porpoises. And they pushed me all the way to shore," Van Dyke revealed.

Van Dyke was on Ferguson's show to promote the Blu-Ray release of his 1968 classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Since his TV show Diagnosis: Murder wrapped up in 2001 after 8 years on the air, Van Dyke has continued performing on the small and big screen, appearing in this year's comedy Furry Vengeance

The once-divorced star has four children and seven grandchildren; last year, Margie Willett, his longtime partner of over 30 years, passed away.