Carl Reiner

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Carl Reiner
Carl Reiner-1976.jpg
Carl Reiner on the set of Good Heavens in 1976
Born Carlton Reiner
(1922-03-20) March 20, 1922 (age 93)
The Bronx, New York, United States
Nationality American
Occupation Actor, writer, director, producer, voice artist
Years active 1948–present
Notable work Your Show of Shows
The Dick Van Dyke Show
Good Boy!
Father of the Pride
Style Comedy
Spouse(s) Estelle Reiner (1943–2008; her death)
Children Rob Reiner (son)
Lucas Reiner (son)
Annie Reiner (daughter)
Relatives Tracy Reiner (granddaughter)
Military career
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1943–1946
Rank Lieutenant

Carl Reiner (born March 20, 1922)[1] is an American actor, director, producer, and writer of comedy whose career spans nearly seven decades.

During the early years of television comedy, from 1950 to 1957, he co-wrote and acted on Caesar's Hour and Your Show of Shows, starring comedian Sid Caesar. In the 1960s Reiner was best known as the creator, producer, writer, and actor on The Dick Van Dyke Show.[2][3] He also had great success as a film director and writer, and partnered with Steve Martin in the 1970s when Reiner co-wrote and/or directed some of Martin's most successful films, including 1979's The Jerk.

He did a comedy duo in the "2000 Year Old Man" with Mel Brooks, and acted in films such as the The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966) and the Ocean's Trilogy. Reiner has won nine Emmy Awards[4] and one Grammy Award during his career. He is the father of actor and director Rob Reiner and author Annie Reiner.

Early life[edit]

Reiner was born on March 20, 1922, in The Bronx in New York City, the son of Bessie (née Mathias) (1880-1965) and Irving Reiner, a watchmaker.[5] His parents were Jewish immigrants, his father from Romania and his mother from Austria.[6] At age 16, his older brother Charlie read in the New York Daily News about a free dramatic workshop being put on by the Works Progress Administration and told him about it. His uncle Harry Mathias was the first entertainer in his family.[7] Carl had been working as a machinist repairing sewing machines. He has credited Charlie with changing his career plans.[8] His older brother Charlie served in the 9th Division's 39th Infantry at 11 major World War II battles and had his ashes buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[9][10] During World War II, Reiner served in the United States Army from 1943 until 1946 where he trained as a radio operator but was transferred to serve under Major Maurice Evans in the Army Entertainment Section.[11]


Reiner at the 41st Emmy Awards on September 17, 1989

Reiner performed in several Broadway musicals (including Inside U.S.A. and Alive and Kicking) and had the lead role in Call Me Mister. In 1950, he was cast by producer Max Leibman in Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, appearing on air in skits while also working alongside other writers, such as Mel Brooks and Neil Simon.[12]

Reiner also worked on Caesar's Hour from 1954 to 1957 with Brooks, Simon, Larry Gelbart, Mel Tolkin, Mike Stewart, Aaron Ruben, Sheldon Keller, and Gary Belkin. A third series with Caesar ran on ABC in 1958. During the 1959-1960 television season he contributed as a writer and occasional performer on NBC-TV's Dinah Shore Chevy Show.

Starting in 1960, Reiner teamed with Brooks as a comedy duo on The Steve Allen Show. Their performances on television and stage included Reiner playing the straight man in 2000 Year Old Man. Eventually, the routine expanded into a series of five comedy albums and a 1975 animated TV special.

In 1959, Reiner developed a television pilot titled Head of the Family, based on his own personal and professional life. However, the network did not like Reiner in the lead role for unknown reasons. In 1961, it was recast and retitled The Dick Van Dyke Show and became an iconic series, making stars of his lead actors Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. In addition to writing many of the episodes, Reiner occasionally appeared as temperamental show host Alan Brady. The series ran from 1961 to 1966. In 1966, Reiner co-starred in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.[13]

On The Dick Van Dyke Show, he began his directing career. After the series ended its run, his first film feature was an adaptation of Joseph Stein's play Enter Laughing (1967), which, in turn, was based on Reiner's semi-autobiographical 1958 novel of the same name. Balancing directing, producing, writing, and acting, Reiner has worked on a wide range of films and television programs. Films from his early directing career included Where's Poppa? (1970), Oh, God! (1977), and The Jerk (1979).

Reiner played a large role in the early career of Steve Martin, by directing and co-writing four films for the comedian: The Jerk in 1979, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid in 1982, The Man with Two Brains in 1983, and All of Me in 1984. Reiner also appeared in both The Jerk and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

Reiner with Goldie Hawn on the set of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In on January 16, 1970

In 1989, he directed Bert Rigby, You're a Fool. In 1990, he narrated the Grimm children's story "The Musicians of Bremen" (music by Bernard Rogers) for a CD of classical music for children. In 2000, Reiner was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. A year later, he portrayed Saul Bloom in Steven Soderbergh's remake of Ocean's Eleven, as well as its two sequels, Ocean's Twelve (2004), and Ocean's Thirteen (2007). From 2004 to 2005, Reiner voiced Sarmoti in Father of the Pride.

Reiner is the author of several books, including his 2004 memoir My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir and novels, such as his 2006 novel NNNNN: A Novel. In American Film, he expressed his philosophy on writing comedy: "You have to imagine yourself as not somebody very special but somebody very ordinary. If you imagine yourself as somebody really normal and if it makes you laugh, it's going to make everybody laugh. If you think of yourself as something very special, you'll end up a pedant and a bore. If you start thinking about what's funny, you won't be funny, actually. It's like walking. How do you walk? If you start thinking about it, you'll trip."

In May 2009, he guest-starred as a clinic patient on the season finale of House. Reiner also voiced Santa Claus in Merry Madagascar and reprised his role in the Penguins of Madagascar episode "The All Nighter Before Christmas." In December 2009, Reiner guest-starred as a television producer on Two and a Half Men, and reprised this role in October 2013 and January 2014.

Reiner at a ceremony for Mel Brooks on April 23, 2010

In June 2010, Reiner guest starred in Hot in Cleveland as Elka Ostrovsky's date and reprised the role in July. He made appearances on The Cleveland Show as Murray and wrote the story for the episode "Your Show of Shows", named after the program that started his career. Reiner is also the only person to have appeared on every incarnation of The Tonight Show.[14][15]

Personal life[edit]

On December 24, 1943, Reiner married singer Estelle Lebost. The two were married 64 years, until her death. At the time of the marriage, Reiner was 21 and she was 29. Estelle delivered the line "I'll have what she's having" in the deli scene of their son Rob's 1989 film When Harry Met Sally.[1] She died on October 25, 2008, at age 94.[16]

He is the father of Rob Reiner (b. 1947), poet, playwright and author Sylvia Anne (Annie) Reiner (b. 1949), and painter,[17] actor, and director Lucas Reiner (b. 1960).[1] Carl Reiner has six grandchildren,[18] four from Rob and two from Lucas, and five great-grandchildren.

Reiner has described himself as a Jewish atheist.[6] He has said, "I have a very different take on who God is. Man invented God because he needed him. God is us."[19][20]

Reiner resides in Beverly Hills, California.[21] At 93, he is one of the oldest celebrities active on Twitter.[22]


  • Enter Laughing (1958)
  • 2000 Years With: Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks (with Mel Brooks, 1960)
  • All Kinds of Love (1993)
  • Continue Laughing (1995)
  • How Paul Robeson Saved My Life (and Other Mostly Happy Stories) (1999)
  • The 2000 Year-Old Man in the Year 2000: The Book (1999)
  • My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir (2003)
  • NNNNN: A Novel (2006)
  • Tell Me Another Scary Story... But Not Too Scary! (with James Bennett) (2009)
  • Just Desserts: A Novellelah (2009)
  • Tell Me a Silly Story (with James Bennett) (2010)
  • I Remember Me (2012)
  • I Just Remembered! (2014)
  • What I Forgot To Remember (2015)
  • The Secret Treasure Of Tahka Paka (2015) (with James Bennett, illustrator, and Lawrence O'Flahavan, editor)
  • Why & When The Dick Van Dyke Show Was Born (2015)
  • I Can't Stop Remembering (2016; working title)


Year Title Director Screenwriter
1963 The Thrill of It All Yes
1965 The Art of Love Yes
1967 Enter Laughing Yes Yes
1969 The Comic Yes Yes
1970 Where's Poppa? Yes
1977 Oh, God! Yes
1978 The One and Only Yes
1979 The Jerk Yes
1982 Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid Yes Yes
1983 The Man with Two Brains Yes Yes
1984 All of Me Yes
1985 Summer Rental Yes
1987 Summer School Yes
1989 Bert Rigby, You're a Fool Yes Yes
1990 Sibling Rivalry Yes
1993 Fatal Instinct Yes
1997 That Old Feeling Yes









Reiner's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6421 Hollywood Blvd

Primetime Emmy Awards[edit]

  • 1954: Best Series Supporting Actor for "Your Show of Shows" NBC – Nominee
  • 1956: Best Actor in a Supporting Role for "Caesar's Hour" NBC – Nominee
  • 1957: Best Supporting Performance by an Actor for Caesar's Hour NBC – Winner
  • 1958: Best Continuing Supporting Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic or Comedy Series for Caesar's Hour NBC – Winner
  • 1962: Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy for The Dick Van Dyke Show CBS – Winner
  • 1963: Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy for The Dick Van Dyke Show CBS – Winner
  • 1964: Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy or Variety for The Dick Van Dyke Show (Shared with Sam Denoff and Bill Persky)CBS – Winner
  • 1965: Outstanding Program Achievements in Entertainment for The Dick Van Dyke Show CBS – Winner
  • 1965: Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment for The Dick Van Dyke Show - Nominee
  • 1966: Special Classifications of Individual Achievements for voices in "Linus The Lionhearted" CBS – Nominee
  • 1966: Outstanding Comedy Series for The Dick Van Dyke Show CBS – Winner
  • 1967: Outstanding Writing Achievement in Variety for The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris Special (Shared with Mel Brooks, Sam Denoff, Bill Persky, and Mel Tolkin) CBS – Winner
  • 1995: Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Mad About You: "The Alan Brady Show" NBC – Winner
  • 2000: Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series for Beggers And Choosers - Nominee
  • 2004: Outstanding Special Class Program for The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited - Nominee



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press, (2000)
  2. ^ Van Dyke, Dick (2012), My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir, Three Rivers Press
  3. ^ Waldron, Vince (1994). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book, Hyperion
  4. ^ a b "Awards Search - Television Academy". 2014-08-16. Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  5. ^ Carl Reiner Biography (1922–)
  6. ^ a b Tom, Tugend (June 15, 2008). "Reiners honored by Israeli film fest". The Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved July 21, 2009. 
  7. ^ Lynda Gorov (2013) Funnyman Carl Reiner Moment Magazine
  8. ^ Susan King, Los Angeles Times, Feb 27, (2001) pg. F.5
  9. ^ Reiner, Carl (June 3, 2014). Norm Macdonald Live. Interview with Norm Macdonald. Retrieved June 17, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Ed McMahon heads for Times Square". 2001-04-25. Retrieved 2013-07-23. 
  11. ^ "Carl Reiner". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved March 8, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Sid Caesar - "This is Your Story" with Carl Reiner and Howard Morris",
  13. ^ Carl Reiner and Alan Arkin in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming trailer
  14. ^ "Emmy Legends"
  15. ^ The Tonight Show
  16. ^ Estelle Reiner dies at 94
  17. ^ ART REVIEWS; David Pagel, Los Angeles Times, Oct 12, (1995) pg. 4
  18. ^ Carl Reiner grandchildren
  19. ^ King, Susan (October 21, 2009). "Carl Reiner's big break". LA Times. Retrieved December 22, 2010. 
  20. ^ Waldron, Vince (1994). The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book. New York: Applause. p. 23. ISBN 1-55783-453-9. 
  21. ^ 'Musicals, Concerts, Children's Shows, and More Highlight Annenberg's 2014-2015 Season', The Beverly Hills Courier, September 12, 2014, p. 10 [1]
  22. ^ Carl Reiner's Twitter Account
  23. ^ "Television Hall of Fame Honorees: Complete List". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, (2007).

External links[edit]