Reiner, Carl

Reiner, Carl, 1922-2020, American comedian, television producer, actor, and film director, b. Bronx, N.Y. The son of a watchmaker, Reiner initially worked as a machinist’s helper when he began taking acting lessons. He joined the Army’s entertainment unit in World War II, performing on bases in the South Pacific. After the war, he made his Broadway debut in Call Me Mister (1948), and then appeared in the revue Alive and Kicking (1950), where he was spotted by producer Max Liebman who was launching a new television comedy sketch program, Your Show of Shows (1950-1954), featuring Sid Caesar. Reiner became part of the show’s stock company including Howard Morris and Imogene Coca, as well as joining the show’s writers, including Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, and Woody Allen in crafting its sketches. Reiner continued his work for Caesar through the 1950s. In 1960, he recorded a comedy album titled The 2000 Year Old Man, in which he interviewed Mel Brooks, who purportedly was born at the time of Christ; the recording was added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry (2008). He then created The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966), winning five Emmys as its writer and producer (he would win a total of nine Emmys for his television work); he also portrayed Van Dyke’s cranky boss, Alan Brady, on the program. Reiner next enjoyed a career as a film director, with a long association with comedian Steve Martin from his debut, The Jerk (1979) through All of Me (1984). After his “retirement,” he returned to acting on television and notably in the film caper series Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Twelve (2004), and Thirteen (2007). Reiner also wrote plays and screenplays, several memoirs, and children’s books; his semi-autobiographical novel Enter Laughing (1958) was adapted as a Broadway play (1963) and film (1967; cowritten by Reiner).

See his memoirs My Anecdotal Life (2003); I Remember Me (2013), Too Busy to Die (2017).

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