Carl Reiner, an artist with many talents, died when he was the age of 98. Reiner’s assistant told Variety that the actor, comedian, and filmmaker passed away of natural causes on Monday, June 29 at his Beverly Hills home.
A Hollywood polymath, Reiner worked in publishing, comedy, showrunning, and screenplay, among many other fields.
A Little History Of His Youth
A native New Yorker, Carl Reiner entered the world on March 20, 1922. His parents were foreign Jewish arrivals. Irving, his father, was a watchmaker, and he has Austrian and Romanian ancestry; Bessie, his mother.
Carl Reiner got his start in the business thanks to his older brother Charlie, who died in WWII but not before hearing about a free dramatic workshop and inspiring Carl to pursue acting.
Carl Reiner was recruited into the Army Air Force in 1943 and served for the duration of the war, playing in shows all around Pacific theatre and entertaining troops to keep his acting connections alive.
After the wartime, Reiner began making appearances on Broadway, but it wasn’t until 1950, when he joined the cast of Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows” on television, that he really found success.
Together with Mel Brooks and Neil Simon, he became part of a dynamic group of writers. With the help of Steve Allen, Brooks and Reiner created the classic “2,000 Year Old Man” performance in 1960. From then, they developed the act into a Grammy-winning animated special and a string of comedy albums.
The Domestic And Romantic Spheres
To Estelle Lebost, whom Reiner was engaged for 64 years before her death in 2008, he dedicated his life. The line “I’ll have what she’s having” attributed to Lebost from “When Harry Met Sally” is one of the most iconic movie quotes of all time.
Three of his children, director, comedian, and actor Rob Reiner; writer, poet, & author Annie Reiner; & painter Lucas Reiner, as well as six grandkids and five great-grandchildren survive him.
This Film Is The Industry’s Grand Debut
In 1959, Reiner pitched his first series, “Head of the Family,” about a likeable dad; much of the show’s settings were drawn from Reiner’s own experiences.
The company, however, decided that Dick Van Dyke would be better suited to take the lead role, so they cast him and renamed the show after him. A recurring role for Reiner on the show was that of Alan Brady.
Once the stage was set for “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (which aired from 1961 to 1966), Reiner moved on to other projects in film, including directing, acting in, and writing screenplays. In 1963, he penned “The Thrill of It All,” a romantic comedy starring Doris Day and James Garner.
Co-starring with him in Norman Jewison’s political comedy “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming” from 1966. The role of Saul Bloom in all three “Ocean’s 11” films was only one of several starring roles he would play on a regular basis.
His first film, an adaptation of his own 1958 novel “Enter Laughing,” was released in 1967. He went on to helm such films as “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” (1982) and “The Man With Two Brains” (1983), both starring Steve Martin, and “The Jerk” (1979), a Steve Martin classic.
In addition to the aforementioned films, Reiner & Steve Martin would also work together in 1984’s “All of Me.”
Over the past decade, Reiner has voiced a wide variety of characters on television, from Santa in Nickelodeon’s “Penguins of Madagascar” to a recurring role on “The Cleveland Show.” In 2019, he appeared as Carl Rhinoceros on an episodes of the Disney+ series “Forky Asks a Question,” starring alongside Carol Burnett, Betty White, & his good buddy Mel Brooks.
He also stayed current by using social media, and today Reiner is among the oldest celebrities with an active Twitter account (@carlreiner).
During a ceremony at the Kennedy Center in 2000, Reiner was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. His autobiography, “Too Busy to Die,” was published in 2017, making him the author of 18 books overall.
His hand and footprints, along with those of his son Rob Reiner, were inscribed in cement at the TCL (originally Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) in the same year, in honour of the TCM Classic Movie Festival. The Paley Center for Media paid tribute to him and other comedy greats in 2019. He won nine Primetime Emmys.
Reiner was a part of an influential group of Jewish American comedians that shaped the genre during the 20th century. After meeting Mel Brooks, he and Dick Van Dyke frequently worked together, eventually creating the Dick Van Dyke Show.