American comedy pioneer Carl Reiner dies at 98

Actor Carl Reiner and his wife Estelle pose at the premiere of the HBO documentary “If You’re Not In the Obit, Eat Breakfast” in Beverly Hills, California, United States on May 17, 2017 Reuters

He still played voice roles in his 90s and played a key role in “If You’re Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast,” a documentary about people who stay busy until the age of 90. .

Carl Reiner, a driving force behind American comedy as a writer for television pioneer Sid Caesar, partner of Mel Brooks and creator and co-star of the classic sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, has died at 98 years of natural causes, his assistant said on Tuesday.

His career spanned seven decades and spanned all mediums, from theater and recordings to television and film, including directing “Oh, God!”, Three collaborations with Steve Martin and a role in old crook in the series “Ocean’s Eleven”.

Reiner died Monday evening at his Beverly Hills home, his assistant Judy Nagy told Reuters on Tuesday.

He still played voice roles in his 90s and played a key role in “If You’re Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast,” a documentary about people who stay busy until the age of 90. .

Reiner is survived by three children, including Rob Reiner, director of several blockbuster films and known for playing Archie Bunker’s son-in-law “Meathead” in the hit television comedy “All in the Family”.

Reiner’s wife of 64 years, Estelle, died in 2008.

Rob Reiner on Twitter mourned his father’s passing, saying, “As I write this my heart is aching… He was my beacon.”

Her father was also active on Twitter. His last tweet on Monday praised British playwright and composer Noel Coward, whom he hailed as “the most prolific author of musicals, plays, songs and films”.

Tributes to Reiner have poured in from across the show business spectrum.

Actress Sarah Silverman praised the comedy legend’s accomplishments as well as his generosity. “I never left his house empty-handed – book, space pen, Swiss army knife. RIP to a man who embodies the word mensch, ”she wrote on Twitter.

Late night comedy host Stephen Colbert simply tweeted “The Greatest” in an article accompanying a photo of Reiner as a young man.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also praised the Empire State native’s enduring comedy, saying on Twitter: “He made America laugh – a real gift.”

Reiner expressed his approach to his work in his book “My Anecdotal Life,” when he said, “Getting people to laugh at you while you’re laughing at yourself is a good thing to do. You might be the fool, but you are the fool in charge.

Early life

Reiner, the Bronx-born watchmaker’s son, began in entertainment as a teenager in a touring theater group that performed Shakespeare’s plays. His career took a decisive turn after joining the Army Signal Corps during World War II.

Recruited into a special unit that showed shows for the troops, Reiner began writing and performing his own comedy material.

Returning to New York City after the war, Reiner appeared in several Broadway musicals, including a starring role in “Call Me Mister,” before being hired to join Caesar’s popular TV comedy series “Your Show of Shows “in 1950.

Reiner was part of Caesar’s performer ensemble as well as a famous writing team that included then-unknown talents such as Brooks, Neil Simon, and Larry Gelbart.

Reiner and Brooks stayed close to the late ’90s with Reiner telling USA Today in 2019 that they got together regularly to watch game shows and movies.

Brooks called him a “giant, unrivaled in his contributions to entertainment,” in a tweet Tuesday.

“A tired cliché at times like this. But in the case of Carl Reiner, it’s absolutely true. He will be sorely missed, ”said Brooks.

2000 year old straight man

Brooks joined Reiner to create the “A 2000 Year Old Man” routine in which Reiner interviewed the world’s oldest living man, played by Brooks, who tells satirical first-person anecdotes in history with a strong Jewish accent.

When asked why the cross became a symbol of Christianity, for example, Brooks replied, “It was easier to put together than the Star of David.

Originally ad-released by Reiner and Brooks at a party, the skit has become a perennial TV favorite and the basis of five comedy albums, the last of which won a 1998 Grammy Award.

When “Your Show of Shows” ended its four and a half years in 1954, Reiner followed Caesar to his next series, “Caesar’s Hour,” and won his first two Emmy Awards.

Create your own shows

Encouraged by his wife to develop a TV show like his own, Reiner began working on a sitcom pilot loosely based on his experiences with Caesar’s shows, titled “Head of the Family,” posing as a TV screenwriter with a wife and two children. .

Network executives first passed on the project, unhappy with Reiner as the main character, Rob Petrie. But CBS eventually picked up the series in 1961, recast and renamed for its new star, “The Dick Van Dyke Show”.

Reiner, who won multiple Emmys writing and producing the hit series, played the recurring role of Petrie’s boss, the wayward variety show host Alan Brady.

A retaliation for his role as Alan Brady three decades later, for a guest spot on the 1990s sitcom “Mad About You,” earned Reiner another Emmy.

In addition to helping turn its creator and star into household names, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” launched the career of Mary Tyler Moore, who played Rob Petrie’s wife. The series, considered a TV sitcom classic, ended in 1966.

The following year, Reiner made his directorial and feature-length producer debut with “Enter Laughing,” which he adapted from a play by Joseph Stein based on Reiner’s 1958 semi-autobiographical book by the same. name.

He then directed George Burns in the title role of the 1977 comedy “Oh My God!” before collaborating with Steve Martin on a series of films, including “The Jerk”, “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” and “The Man with Two Brains”.

From 2001, he made a comeback on the big screen playing old con man Saul Bloom, who is coming out of retirement to join George Clooney, Brad Pitt and others in the hit remake of the 1960s heist film ” Ocean’s Eleven “. Reiner returned to this role in two “Ocean” sequels.

Reiner never strayed from television, continuing to make appearances on various shows such as “Two and a Half Men” and “Hot in Cleveland” until his 90s, while keeping a busy Twitter account.

Reiner has written four volumes of memoirs, including “I Just Remembered” in 2014, as well as children’s books.

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