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Thread: Carl Reiner dead at 98

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    Default Carl Reiner dead at 98

    Source: Variety.com

    Carl Reiner, Comedy Legend and ‘Dick Van Dyke Show’ Creator, Dies at 98











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    Carl Reiner, the writer, producer, director and actor who was part of Sid Caesar’s legendary team and went on to create “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and direct several hit films, has died. He was 98.
    He died of natural causes on Monday night at his home in Beverly Hills, his assistant Judy Nagy confirmed to Variety.
    Reiner, the father of filmmaker and activist Rob Reiner, was the winner of nine Emmy awards, including five for “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” His most popular films as a director included “Oh God,” starring George Burns, in 1977; “The Jerk,” with Steve Martin, in 1979; and “All of Me,” with Martin and Lily Tomlin, in 1984.
    Reiner remained in the public eye well into his 80s and 90s with roles in the popular “Ocean’s Eleven” trio of films and on TV with recurring roles on sitcoms “Two and a Half Men” and “Hot in Cleveland.” He also did voice work for shows including “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” “King of the Hill,” and “Bob’s Burgers.”
    He first came to prominence as a regular cast member of Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows,” for which he won two Emmys in 1956 and 1957 in the supporting category. He met Mel Brooks during his time with Caesar. The two went on to have a long-running friendship and comedy partnership through the recurring “2000 Year Old Man” sketches.







    Before creating CBS hit “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” on which he sometimes appeared, Reiner and “Show of Shows” writer Mel Brooks worked up an elongated skit in which Reiner played straight man-interviewer to Brooks’ “2000 Year Old Man”; a 1961 recording of the skit was an immediate hit and spawned several sequels, the last of which, 1998’s “The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000,” won the pair a Grammy.
    Producer-director Max Liebman, who cast him in the 1950 Broadway show “Alive and Kicking,” also hired Reiner as the emcee and a performer on NBC’s comedy/variety program “Your Show of Shows.”


    Reiner then freelanced as a panel show emcee on “Keep Talking,” as a TV guest star and in featured film roles in “The Gazebo,” “Happy Anniversary” and “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.” Reiner’s 1958 novel “Enter Laughing,” loosely based on his own experiences, was optioned for the stage by producer David Merrick. Reiner did a legit adaptation in 1963 and then directed the film version in 1967, marking his motion picture directing debut.
    For Broadway he wrote and directed the farce “Something Different,” which ran for a few months in 1967-68; helmed “Tough to Get Help” in 1972; penned the book for the musical “So Long, 174th Street,” which had a very brief run in 1976; and directed “The Roast” in 1980.


    In 1961 Reiner drew on his experiences with Caesar to create and produced “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” a ratings cornerstone for CBS for the next five years. Reiner made guest appearances as the irascible variety show host Alan Brady. The show won Emmys for writing its first three years and for producing its last two. In 1967, Reiner picked up another Emmy for his writing in a reunion variety show with Caesar, Coca and Morris.
    Though the “Enter Laughing” movie was modestly received, Reiner continued to direct steadily over the next few decades. “Where’s Poppa?,” an offbeat comedy he directed in 1970, became a cult favorite. Similarly, two other Martin vehicles, the gumshoe spoof “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” and “The Man With Two Brains,” found bigger audiences after their release in theaters.


    There were also several less-than-successful films, such as 1969’s “The Comic,” to which Reiner also contributed some of the script; two similarly titled mid-’80s misfires, “Summer Rental” and “Summer School”; “Bert Rigby, You’re a Fool”; 1990’s “Sibling Rivalry”; and a 1993 spoof of “Basic Instinct” called “Fatal Instinct.” He also appeared in most of these pics.


    While the last film he directed was the 1997 romantic comedy “That Old Feeling,” starring Bette Midler and Dennis Farina, Reiner was an active presence in guest roles on television and in supporting roles in films during the 1990s and 2000s, even as he neared and then surpassed his 90th birthday.


    He guested on “Frasier” in 1993; reprised the role of Alan Brady on an episode of “Mad About You” in 1995 and won an Emmy for it; and guested on “Ally McBeal,” “Boston Legal” and “House.”
    Bigscreen appearances included 1990’s “The Spirit of ’76,” directed by his son Lucas; “Slums of Beverly Hills” (1998); and all three films in the “Ocean’s Eleven” series.


    Born in the Bronx, he graduated from high school at 16 and worked as a machinist while studying acting. After brief stints in summer stock and on the Borscht Belt circuit, he entered the Army during WWII. His acting talents brought him to the attention of Maurice Evans’ special services unit, where Reiner first met future “Show of Shows” cohort Howard Morris. For the remainder of the war he toured South Pacific bases in G.I. revues.






    He hit the ground running in New York after the war, landing a part in G.I. revue “Call Me Mister” and in 1948 appeared in the Broadway musical revue “Inside U.S.A.,” starring Beatrice Lillie and Jack Haley. Concurrently he was appearing on television as a fashion photographer in ABC’s “Fashion Story.”
    In 1995 Reiner received the Writers Guild’s Laurel Award, a lifetime achievement award for a career in TV writing. In 2000 he won the Mark Twain Prize for Humor, presented by the Kennedy Center. In 2009 he was presented with the WGA’s Valentine Davies Award, recognizing both his writing legacy and valued service to the guild, the entertainment industry and community at large.


    Reiner’s wife Estelle, to whom he had been married since 1943, died in 2008. In addition to Rob Reiner, survivors include his daughter Sylvia Anne and son Lucas.



    Dammit, I wanted him to see how Trump would get carried out of the White House, kicking and screaming. Now I hope he will haunt Trump. R.I.P.
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    I keep looking for a family member to confirm this on Twitter, like Rob who posted earlier and did not mention this. Nothing yet.
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    RIP. 98 -- that is a long, wonderful life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brookie View Post
    I keep looking for a family member to confirm this on Twitter, like Rob who posted earlier and did not mention this. Nothing yet.
    Variety is pretty accurate. He was still so sharp and was even tweeting about Trump yesterday, 16 hours ago!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by HWBL View Post
    Variety is pretty accurate. He was still so sharp and was even tweeting about Trump yesterday, 16 hours ago!!!
    Rob confirmed it a few minutes ago.
    Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive Quickly. Kiss Slowly. Love Truly.
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    Source: Washington Post

    Carl Reiner, TV comedy pioneer and probing straight man to Mel Brooks, dies at 98


    Carl Reiner in 1967. (Harold Filan/AP)

    By Adam Bernstein







    June 30, 2020 at 4:16 p.m. GMT+2





    Carl Reiner, a gifted comic improviser who created the enduring 1960s sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and Mel Brooks’s 2,000-Year-Old Man character — a cranky Jewish rascal who claimed to have dated Joan of Arc (“what a cutie”) and have 42,000 children (“and not one comes to visit me”) — died June 29 at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 98.


    Actor and filmmaker Rob Reiner, one of his sons, confirmed the death in a tweet.

    The elder Mr. Reiner gained a national following in the 1950s opposite Sid Caesar on influential TV comedy programs, directed movies that launched Steve Martin’s film career in the 1970s and 1980s, and played an aging con man in the popular “Oceans 11” movie franchise of the 2000s starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

    Mr. Reiner was masterful at following comic logic to its most ridiculous conclusion — especially when he collaborated with Brooks on ad-libbed comedy routines about the 2,000-Year-Old Man. The first of their five albums, released in 1961, influenced a generation of comedians, including Bill Cosby, Billy Crystal, Albert Brooks and Paul Reiser.


    “I went into this business after hearing Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner do their 2,000-Year-Old-Man routine,” Cosby once said. “I loved their flow of humor, the looseness of it and the fact that any second, a piece of greatness could suddenly be created.”

    Mr. Reiner played the eager, probing questioner who tried to elicit pearls of wisdom any average listener would want to know from a man who was 2,000 years old, played by Brooks.

    Reiner: Sir, what do you consider the greatest medical discovery in the 2,000 years that you’ve lived, to be? Would it be the advent of transplants of organs, the use of antibiotics, the heart-lung machine?


    Mr. Reiner pushed for information about historical figures with whom the 2,000-Year-Old Man crossed paths. Brooks revealed that Helen of Troy had a less-attractive sister named Janice who had a body that could “launch a few canoes.”

    Brooks once said of Mr. Reiner: “His genius was in getting this little Jewish rat in a corner and trapping him. He’d always say, ‘Prove it, prove it.’

    “I’d come up with these fantastic statements . . . and he never let me up, he’d be demanding real proof for all my statements. Which was insane, since the first statement was I was 2,000 years old, and that wasn’t challenged.”

    As Mr. Reiner told the Los Angeles Times, “I knew a man in panic was just hilarious. I knew that if he was against the wall, he’d always find gold.”

    During the 1950s, Mr. Reiner and Brooks would only perform the 2,000-Year-Old Man interviews for friends at dinner parties. They were reluctant to record the routine.


    In a 1999 New York Times interview, he recalled telling Brooks, “We can’t do it for anybody but Jews and non-anti-Semitic friends. The Eastern-European Jewish accent Mel did was persona non grata in 1950. The war had been over for five years, the Jews had been maligned enough.”

    Mr. Reiner and Brooks slowly built a following among the show-business elite — comedian George Burns threatened to steal the idea if they did not record it first.

    The first Reiner-Brooks record, “2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks,” reportedly sold more than 1 million copies. In an era when a lot of Jewish comics and writers hid their ethnic identities, the album was among the first to help make Jewish humor mainstream, the comedy historian Gerald Nachman said in an interview for this obituary.

    Mr. Reiner said the movie star Cary Grant once played it for the Queen Mother at Buckingham Palace, and she apparently “roared” with laughter.


    Using a Yiddish expression for non-Jewish woman, Mr. Reiner told Brooks, “Well, there’s the biggest shiksa in the world. We must be all right.”

    'Your Show of Shows'

    Carl Reiner was born March 20, 1922, in the Bronx, N.Y., to Romanian immigrants. After completing high school at 16, he was working as a machinist’s helper in the millinery trade when he began taking drama classes sponsored by the federal Work Projects Administration.

    Tall, lean and rubbery-faced, he was a physical comedian with a booming voice and a talent for foreign-accented gibberish. After serving in an Army entertainment unit during World War II, he appeared in Broadway musicals before joining the cast of the Caesar comedy program “Your Show of Shows” in 1950.


    “We really needed a second banana, somebody who could dive in and out of Sid and support him,” Brooks once said. “Nobody could do foreign gibberish better than Sid Caesar, but this Reiner guy could keep up with him.”


    Both NBC’s “Your Show of Shows” (1950-54) and its successor, “Caesar’s Hour” (1954-57), were live programs that drew tens of millions of viewers every week with their blend of slapstick comedy and sophisticated farce. They set the standard for later programs such as “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Saturday Night Live.”

    The Caesar shows featured some of the most inventive comedy writers ever assembled, including Brooks (who went on to direct “The Producers” and “Young Frankenstein”), Mel Tolkin (later a writer for “All in the Family”), Larry Gelbart (a creator of the TV series “M.A.S.H.”) and Neil Simon (who immortalized the writers’ room in his play “Laughter on the 23d Floor” and also wrote, among many other plays and movies, “The Odd Couple.”)

    Neil Simon, Broadway’s long-reigning king of comedy, dies at 91

    Along with Imogene Coca and Howard Morris, Mr. Reiner was a critical supporting player in Caesar’s parodies of foreign films (“U-bet-u,” a sendup of samurai movies), contemporary game shows (“Break Your Brains”) and tragic opera (“Gallipacci,” whose score opens with rousing aria set to “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”)


    Creatively speaking, the 2,000-Year-Old Man was born in 1950, after Mr. Reiner came to work one day after seeing a program called “We the People Speak,” in which actors impersonate newsmakers.

    “They were interviewing this guy on TV, who was saying, ‘I was in Stalin's toilet and I overheard their plans — they’re gonna blow up the world next Tuesday.’ I couldn’t believe I had heard something on TV so stupid,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1994. “So I went into the writers’ room and said to Mel [Brooks], ‘Isn’t it true you were there when Christ was crucified?’ I didn’t even expect an answer, but Mel just took off.”

    Creating a TV classic

    After “Caesar’s Hour” ended its run, Mr. Reiner was dissatisfied with the TV offers that came his way. So he created a sitcom, called “Head of the Family,” based on his life as a variety-show writer who lives in the New York suburbs.









    The pilot, starring Mr. Reiner and Barbara Britton as his wife, flopped. But actor and veteran TV producer Sheldon Leonard rescued the concept from the trash bin.

    “I knew he was talented,” Leonard once said of Mr. Reiner, “so I wondered why it hadn’t sold. He had been miscast. He didn’t look or sound like a Scarsdale [commuter]. . . . His willingness to step aside and let someone else carry the ball was the reason for the existence of ‘The Dick Van Dyke’ show.”

    Van Dyke, a rising Broadway actor, was his replacement, and the little-known actress Mary Tyler Moore played his wife. Mr. Reiner cast himself as the megalomaniacal TV host, Alan Brady, whose toupee became a running gag.

    Mary Tyler Moore, TV star who became symbol of women’s liberation, dies at 80

    Mr. Reiner shared five Emmy Awards for writing and producing the sitcom, which aired on CBS from 1961 to 1966 and has been in near-constant syndication ever since.


    It was one of the first shows about the process of writing for television, an exotic world for most viewers at the time, and it showed a far more playful, believable married couple than earlier sitcoms, comedy historian Nachman said.

    Van Dyke’s character also had a self-doubting vulnerability that was rare in an era of two-dimensional sitcom dads. Nachman called the show a transition between “goody two-shoes sitcoms” of the 1950s and grittier fare like “All in the Family” in the 1970s.

    Mr. Reiner went on to focus on a movie career. He had a leading role in the Cold War film comedy “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming” (1966) with Jonathan Winters. He later became a commercially successful director with “Oh, God!” (1977), starring George Burns, and early Steve Martin comedies, including “The Jerk” (1979) and the film-noir sendup “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” (1982).

    In 1967, Mr. Reiner directed “Enter Laughing,” based on his earlier, semi-autobiographical novel. His other directing credits included “Where’s Poppa?” (1970), based on Robert Klane's darkly comic novel, and the tepid comedies “Summer Rental” (1985) starring John Candy and the Armand Assante vehicle “Fatal Instinct” (1993), a parody of sexy thrillers.

    Mr. Reiner had frequent guest roles on TV shows and won another Emmy, in 1995, when he revived the Brady character on the NBC sitcom “Mad About You.” He also was a poker buddy of Johnny Carson and made 47 appearances on “The Tonight Show.”

    In his screen work, Mr. Reiner was perhaps overshadowed by his wife, the former Estelle Lebost, who spoke one of the best-remembered movie lines of all time. His son Rob cast her in “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) as the deli patron who watches Meg Ryan fake a very public orgasm and then tells a waitress, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

    Estelle Reiner died in 2008, after nearly 65 years of marriage. In addition to Rob Reiner, survivors include two other children, Annie and Lucas; and five grandchildren.

    In 1999, Mr. Reiner was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Science Hall of Fame, and the next year he received the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He also shared with Brooks the 1998 Grammy Award for best spoken comedy album for their final release featuring the 2,000-Year-Old Man.

    Crystal wrote in the foreword to Mr. Reiner’s 2013 memoir, “I Remember Me,” “I’ve always looked at his career as one of the best ever and one of the most important. . . . He didn’t have to be a star. Always willing to be second if it helped the team finish first, Carl has never had an air about him. He is what he is: a nice genius.”






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    Awww. 98 is a good run,but still. He was still so sharp, and funny. Also wish he could have lived to see Trump gone.

    I was reading about his long time friendship with Mel Brooks, how they still got together every night to have dinner and watch Jeopardy together.
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    ^He was at Brooks' 94th birthday party the night before he passed away.
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    Amazing guy. Very long career. I haven't read about him in a while, but it was very cool that he hooked up with Steve Martin and they did so much stuff together.

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    ^ He was still pretty active on twitter.
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    Well shit, I was rooting for him to make it to 100.
    'I had to get rid of the kid. The cat was allergic.'

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    I would not be surprised to see some of those other old guys go this year too. I'll be sad, but not surprised.
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