Carl Reiner, the ingenious and versatile writer, actor and director who broke through as a “second banana” to Sid Caesar and rose to comedy’s front ranks as creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and straight man to Mel Brooks’ “2000 Year Old Man,” has died. He was 98.
Reiner’s assistant Judy Nagy said he died Monday night of natural causes at his home in Beverly Hills, California.
Reiner was the father of actor-director Rob Reiner, who tweeted that his “heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.” The younger Reiner starred as Archie Bunker’s son-in-law on “All in the Family” and directed “When Harry Met Sally…”
Last night my dad passed away. As I write this my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) June 30, 2020
Carl Reiner was one of show business’ best-liked men. He was a welcome face on the small and silver screens: In Caesar’s 1950s troupe; as the self-absorbed Alan Brady of “The Dick Van Dyke Show”; and in such films as “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming” and “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”
In recent years, he was part of the roguish gang in the “Ocean’s Eleven” movies starring George Clooney and appeared in documentaries including “Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age” and “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast.”
Tributes poured in, with Van Dyke calling Reiner “kind, gentle, compassionate, empathetic and wise,” and Clooney saying he made “every room he walked into funnier, smarter, kinder.”
Betty White described herself as privileged to work with Reiner and “heartbroken.” Steve Martin said goodbye to “my greatest mentor in movies and in life. Thank you, dear Carl.” Billy Crystal said “all of us in comedy have lost a giant,” and Sarah Silverman said ”his humanity was beyond compare.”
Brooks said he and Reiner had been best friends since meeting on “Your Show of Shows.”
“Carl was a giant, unmatched in his contributions to entertainment,” Brooks said. “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. He’ll be greatly missed. A tired cliché in times like this, but in Carl Reiner’s case it’s absolutely true. He will be greatly missed.”
Reiner directed such films as “Oh, God!” starring George Burns and John Denver; “All of Me,” with Martin and Lily Tomlin; and the 1970 comedy “Where’s Poppa?” His books include “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.”
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