Legendary entertainer Carl Reiner dead at 98

Carl Reiner, the legendary Hollywood entertainer and master satirist best known as the creator, producer, writer, and occasional funnyman on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” in the early 1960s has died. He was 98.

Reiner died Monday night at his Beverly Hills home with his family by his side, according to entertainment website TMZ.

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Reiner was the father of distinguished Hollywood director Rob Reiner,  author and playwright Annie Reiner, and artist-photographer Lucas Reiner.

“Last night my dad passed away,” Rob Reiner wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning. “As I write this my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.”

The elder Reiner’s career spanned seven decades as a comedian, actor, director, screenwriter, and publisher. His name is listed on at least 400 productions in film and television. His final film credit was “Toy Story 4” in 2019 as the voice of Carl Reineroceros.

» Read and sign the online guestbook for Carl Reiner

He had a very active Twitter account where he posted a series of tributes to the late British playwright Noel Coward just 18 hours ago.

Carl Reiner, one of the funniest comedians of his generation, won a total of nine Emmy Awards, one Grammy, and The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

On the “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” Reiner occasionally appeared as the temperamental show host Alan Brady.

Reiner was the one who cast Mary Tyler Moore to play the role of the title character’s wife.

The show catapulted both Moore and Van Dyke to stardom.

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After the show ended in 1966, Reiner went on to star in many feature films, including “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World,” and “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming.”

He also recorded a best-selling album with his comic partner Mel Brooks called “2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks,” which was nominated for a Grammy.

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Films that he co-wrote or directed also stand out, including “Oh, God!” with late comedian George Burns in 1977,  and “The Jerk” with Steve Martin in 1979. He also played comic roles in both those films.

After “The Jerk,” Reiner and Martin teamed up again in several films including “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” “Man with Two Brains” and “All of Me” in 1984.

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Reiner also directed the likes of John Candy, Bette Midler, Mark Harmon, Kirstie Alley, and Carrie Fisher.

His more recent acting credits came on “Two and a Half Men,” “Hot in Cleveland” and “House.” He was also in “Ocean’s 11” in 2001 and “Ocean’s Thirteen” in 2007.

Early life

Reiner was born in the Bronx, New York, on March 20, 1922.

His parents were Jewish immigrants.

Reiner was drafted into the Army Air Force in 1943 and served during World War II.

He developed an interest in theater during his enlistment and found instant success with the unit that traveled between the battles of the Pacific to entertain the troops. Reiner had found his niche.

After an honorable discharge in 1946, Reiner packed his bags for Broadway and performed in several musicals, including “Inside U.S.A.” and “Alive and Kicking.” He even played a leading role in “Call Me Mister.”

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By 1950 he was appearing in TV variety shows, working alongside directors Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Woody Allen as a cast member on Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour.”

He and Brooks also formed a popular comedy duo on “The Steve Allen Show” beginning in 1960.

Reiner wrote a semi-autobiographical novel in 1958 called “Enter Laughing,” which was also the title of the first movie he directed in 1967.

Prior to that, he directed The Dick Van Dyke Show from 1961 until 1966.

Reiner was married for 64 years to singer Estelle Lebost until her death in 2008. She was eight years older than Reiner. Estelle was the woman who famously said “I’ll have what she’s having” in Rob Reiner’s 1989 romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally.”

Tributes and condolences from friends and fans began to pour in on social media Tuesday.

“My friend Carl Reiner died last night,” wrote actor Alan Alda. “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.”