Carl Reiner, the driving force behind American comedy since the 1950s, died at the age of 98 at his home in California.
- Reiner created and co-starring in The Dick Van Dyke Show
- He was a frequent partner of the great American comedy Mel Brooks
- His agent said he died of natural causes at his Beverly Hills home
Reiner’s career spanned seven decades and all media, from theater and audio recordings to television and film.
His film credits included directing George Burns in Oh, God! and Steve Martin in The Jerk, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid and The Man with Two Brains.
He then appeared as an elderly crook in the remake of Ocean’s Eleven in 2001.
He was a frequent partner of the great American comedy Mel Brooks, creating and co-starring in the classic American television series The Dick Van Dyke Show.
He still played dubbing roles in his 90s and had a key role in If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast, a documentary about people who stay busy in their 90s.
Reiner’s assistant Judy Nagy said he died Monday night of natural causes in his Beverly Hills home.
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 successful television comedy All in the Family.
Reiner’s wife, 64, Estelle, died in 2008.
Reiner expressed his approach to his work in his book My Anecdotal Life, when he said, “Inviting people to make fun of you while you laugh at yourself is a good thing to do. You can be crazy but you’re the madman in charge. “
Reiner, the son of a Bronx-born watchmaker, started out in entertainment as a teenager in a touring troupe that performed plays by Shakespeare.
But his career took a decisive turn after joining the Army Signal Corps during the Second World War.
Recruited into a special unit that organizes shows for the troops, Reiner begins to write and perform his own comedy material.
Returning to New York after the war, Reiner appeared in several Broadway musicals, including a lead role in Call Me Mister, before being hired to join the popular TV cross-comedy series Your Show of Shows in the 1950s.
Reiner was part of the ensemble of César performers as well as of a famous team of writers who included then unknown talents like Brooks, Neil Simon and Larry Gelbart.
Reiner and Brooks stayed close to the late 1990s. Reiner told USA Today in 2019 that they meet regularly to watch games and movies.
Brooks joined Reiner to create the 2,000-year-old man routine in which Reiner interviewed the oldest living man in the world, played by Brooks, who dissects first-person satirical anecdotes in history in thick Jewish accent .
Originally announced by Reiner and Brooks at a party, the sketch has become an eternal television favorite and the basis of five comedy albums, the latest of which won a Grammy Award in 1998.
He also won Emmy Awards for his work on Caesar’s Hour, Mad About You and The Dick Van Dyke Show.