LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Carl Reiner, the writer, actor, director and producer whose credits include “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Your Show of Shows” with Sid Caesar has died. He was 98.
Reiner’s passing was announced by his son Rob Reiner, who wrote: “Last night my dad passed away. As I write this my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.”
Reiner’s assistant Judy Nagy told Variety that he died on Monday of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles.
A native of New York City, Reiner had early aspirations to be an actor and after taking acting classes at the prompting of his older brother, he began working regularly in the field by the age of 17.
However, Reiner’s budding career was put on hold after he was drafted into the army in 1943. He initially trained to be a radio operator, but managed to transfer into special services due to his proficiency as an actor and spent the remainder of his hitch entertaining troops in the Pacific theater.
Upon returning to the US after the war, he found work in several Broadway productions before he joined the cast of Sid Caesar’s legendary “Your Show Of Shows” working both on screen and in the writer’s room alongside the likes of Mel Brooks, and Neil Simon.
In 1960, Reiner teamed up with Mel Brooks as a stand-up comedy duo, and the two developed iconic bits such as the 2000 Year-Old Man which featured Reiner as the straight man and Brooks cast as the Methuselah in a largely improvisational back and forth.
The duo went on to release 5 successful comedy albums, with a 1998 re-release of the 2000 Year Old Man winning a Grammy for Best Spoken Comedy Album.
Reiner is perhaps best known for writing and producing the “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, a sitcom based on Reiner’s life that ran from 1961 to 1966 on CBS.
The show, which featured Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie as the lead comedy writer of a fictional television series, and Mary Tyler Moore in her breakout role as his wife, proved to be a hit with audiences and netted 15 Emmy awards in its 5 year run.
However, a previous incarnation of the show called “Head of the Family”, and featuring Rob Reiner in the lead role, was not picked up as a pilot in 1960.
In addition to his work on the small screen, Reiner acted in, directed, and wrote scripts for multiple feature productions, including comedy classics such as “Oh, God!” starring George Burns, “The Jerk” starring Steve Martin, and “Summer Rental” with John Candy.
Reiner was the author of several books, including his 2004 memoir My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir and novels, such as his 2006 novel NNNNN: A Novel.
On December 24, 1943, Reiner married jazz singer Estelle Lebost. The two were married for 64 years until her death in 2008.
Following news of Reiner’s passing, his friends and colleagues expressed their grief and shared memories in public statements and via social media:
“My idol, Carl Reiner, wrote about the human comedy. He had a deeper understanding of the human condition, than I think even he was aware of. Kind, gentle, compassionate, empathetic and wise. His scripts were never just funny, they always had something to say about us.” — Dick Van Dyke.
“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. When we were doing The 2000 Year Old Man together there was no better straight man in the world. So whether he wrote or performed or he was just your best friend—nobody could do it better.” — Mel Brooks.
“Goodbye to my greatest mentor in movies and in life.” — Steve Martin.
“The great #CarlReiner has gone to that Show of Shows in the sky. I worked with him, loved him, and consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world to have once attended lunch with his hilarious, garrulous gang.” — Bette Midler.
“Anyone in comedy who got to know or even just meet Carl Reiner felt that they had been given a great gift. His comedy energy was one of pure joyfulness. It’s an unusual quality in our world and I’ve always tried to emulate him.” — Jerry Seinfeld.
“Growing up Carl was like a second dad to me. He was the greatest. Not just as a comic legend but as a man. There was no one else this funny and this nice. I loved him.” — Albert Brooks.
“Not only did he make my favorite TV& movies (see:Where’s Poppa) but his humanity was beyond compare. His heart was so full of love” — Sarah Silverman.