“His was a life well-lived, and we’re all the better for it.” So says George Clooney who starred in the Ocean’s Eleven series alongside comic legend Carl Reiner. Indeed, we are all the better for Carl’s mighty legacy as a writer, producer, actor, comedian, and author. The comedy legend and father of three died at his home in Beverly Hills on Monday night at the age of 98. 

Truly a man for all seasons, the innovative genius all but birthed the comedy TV series when he wrote and produced The Dick Van Dyke Show in the sixties. He also worked in just about every aspect of film, television, and theater for over seventy years!

 

Young Carl grew up during the Great Depression, the son of Jewish immigrants, and he never lost the work ethic spawned by those difficult days. As a youngster, he loved going to the movies and he dreamed of being right up there on the big screen with his matinee idols. As fate would have it, his older brother, Charlie, encouraged him to attend a free drama workshop sponsored by the Works Progress Administration. The rest, as they say, is history.

Mr. Reiner first made the scene as Sid Caesar’s straight man in the TV variety hit “Your Show of Shows” in the 1950s. He proved to be very nimble and fast on his feet as a comedian playing a variety of interesting and comical roles in the iconic network show. And once the Sixties came around, Carl really made his mark. He created, wrote, produced, and acted in the seminal family comedy The Dick Van Dyke Show which earned him no fewer than seven Emmys. In fact, Dick Van Dyke himself said of Carl, “He was my mentor and my idol.” And in that same period, Carl teamed up with comedy legend Mel Brooks on the wildly popular 2000 Year Old Man record collection. For those who haven’t heard these skits, you have to check them out—hilarious!  

“Carl was a giant, unmatched in his contributions to entertainment,” Mel Brooks wrote in a tweet. “He created comedy gems like ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show,’ ‘The Jerk’ and ‘Where’s Poppa?’ I met him in 1950 when he joined Sid Caesar on ‘Your Show of Shows’ and we’ve been best friends ever since. I loved him.”

In some ways, Mr. Reiner really hit his stride in the late 70s  and early 80s by directing Steve Martin’s first film The Jerk (1979) and co-writing and directing the comedian in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), The Man with Two Brains (1983), and All of Me (1984). Carl also appeared in both The Jerk and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. Steve wrote on Twitter, “Goodbye to my greatest mentor in movies and in life. Thank you, dear Carl.”

More recently, Carl starred in Steven Soderbergh’s Vegas casino heist trilogy Ocean’s Eleven. He is quite compelling as a retired criminal lured out of retirement for one last score. And he’s appeared in countless TV shows and documentaries. Just check out his IMDb profile; he’s got over a hundred credits for his acting alone.

Carl Reiner was an incredibly versatile and productive man throughout his life. He served in WWII and toured the South Pacific in an army entertainment troupe. And he was a prolific writer penning novels, children’s books, memoirs, plays, and articles. And we’re sure he’s still plying his many talents with love and joy in the great beyond.

Alan Alda wrote of his pal and confidant, “My friend Carl Reiner died last night. His talent will live on for a long time, but the loss of his kindness and decency leaves a hole in our hearts. We love you, Carl.”

And Carl’s son, Rob, tweeted, “Last night my dad passed away. As I write this my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.”

Carl Reiner is survived by his three children: filmmaker/actor Rob Reiner, author Annie Reiner, and artist/photographer Lucas Reiner. 

 

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