Comedy legend Carl Reiner dies at age 98

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 10:03 AM CDT
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Carl Reiner died at his home in Beverly Hills on Monday night. He was 98 years old.

His son, actor-director Rob Reiner, confirmed the loss Tuesday on Twitter.

“Last night my dad passed away,” he wrote. “As I write this my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.”

A television comedy pioneer, Carl Reiner is remembered for creating the classic TV comedy “The Dick Van Dyke Show” as well as making some notable on-screen appearances.

Reiner based “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which made a star of Van Dyke and launched the career of Mary Tyler Moore, on his own experience as a television writer. He also appeared as Alan Brady, the egotistical and overbearing boss to Van Dyke’s character, stealing many of the scenes and episodes he appeared in.

Though Reiner made some notable on-screen appearances, his career was largely based behind the camera as a writer, director and producer.

Reiner was born March 20, 1922, in the Bronx and was working in a factory repairing sewing machines when his brother saw an ad in the New York Daily News promoting a free acting workshop. Reiner attended it and started down a new career path.

He got his start by appearing in several Broadway musicals, including “Inside U.S.A.” and “Alive and Kicking” before securing the lead role in “Call Me Mister.” That led to a job on “Your Show of Shows,” which starred Sid Caesar, and joined Reiner with a young Mel Brooks and Neil Simon in the writers room.

He later teamed with Brooks on “The Steve Allen Show,” playing the straight man to Brooks’ 2,000 Year Old Man character.

The pairing helped launch the careers of both men and spawned multiple comedy albums and a TV special. It was after that success that Reiner turned his sights toward creating what would become “The Dick Van Dyke Show," on which he had originally planned to star.

Reiner followed up the show’s brief but wildly successful run by moving to directing, where he was behind the camera for “Enter Laughing,” “Where’s Poppa?” and “The Jerk,” which was the first starring role for comedian Steve Martin, who had also written the screenplay.

He was especially proud of his books, including “Enter Laughing,” an autobiographical novel later adapted into a film and Broadway show; and “My Anecdotal Life,” a memoir published in 2003. He recounted his childhood and creative journey in the 2013 book, “I Remember Me.”

Reiner married Estelle Lebost in 1943, and they stayed married until her death in 2008. Lebost is perhaps most famous for saying the famous line “I’ll have what she’s having” in “When Harry Met Sally,” which was directed by her and Carl Reiner’s son, Rob Reiner.

Reiner reprised the role of Brady on “Mad About You” and won an Emmy for his performance - one of nine he won in his career.

Later, Reiner appeared in the remake of “Ocean’s Eleven” and the sequels “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Ocean’s Thirteen” as Saul Bloom.

He also made appearances on “Hot in Cleveland” and “Two and a Half Men."

Carl and Rob Reiner made history in 2017 as the first father and son to have their hand and footprints memorialized in cement in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre.

In 2018, at age 96, Reiner became the oldest Emmy nominee in history for his narration of the HBO documentary “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast.”

Copyright 2020 Gray Media Group, Inc. Associated Press contributed to the report. All rights reserved.