He died of natural causes on Monday night at his house in Beverly Hills, his assistant Judy Nagy affirmed to Variety.
Reiner, the father of filmmaker and activist Rob Reiner, was the winner of nine Emmy awards, including five to”The Dick Van Dyke Show.” His most popular films as a director comprised”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.
Rob Reiner tweeted on Tuesday morning,”Last night my dad passed away. As I write this my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.”
Last night my dad passed away. As I write this my heart is hurting. He had been my light.
In his later years, Reiner was an elder statesman of comedy, revered and admired for his versatility as a performer and multi-hyphenate. He was adept at social media. He maintained a lively presence on Twitter up until the final day of his entire life. He had been vocal in his opposition to President Donald Trump.
As I arose at 7: 30 this afternoon , I was saddened to relive the day that led to the election of a bankrupted and corrupt businessman who had no credentials to be the leader of any country in the civilized world…
Reiner remained in the public eye well in his 80s and 90s with characters from the popular”Ocean’s Eleven” trio of films and on TV with recurring characters 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.”
In 2017, Carl Reiner, his longtime friend and frequent humor partner Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Kirk Douglas and other nonagenarian Hollywood legends were featured in the HBO documentary”In Case You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast,” examining the secrets of longevity in a fickle business.
Reiner first came into prominence as a regular cast member of Sid Caesar’s”Your Show of Shows,” for which he won two Emmys in 1956 and 1957 from the supporting category. He and Brooks fulfilled with Caesar during his time. The two went on to have a long-running friendship and humor venture through the recurring”2000 Year Old Man” sketches.
Before creating CBS hit”The Dick Van Dyke Show,” where he sometimes appeared, Reiner and”Show of Shows” author Mel Brooks worked an elongated skit in which Reiner played directly man-interviewer into Brooks'”2000 Year Old Man”; a 1961 recording of this skit was a direct hit and spawned several sequels, the last of that, 1998’s”The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000,” won the group a Grammy.
Producer-director Max Liebman, who cast him in the 1950 Broadway show”Alive and Kicking,” additionally hired Reiner as the emcee and also a performer on NBC’s comedy/variety program”Your Show of Shows.”
Reiner then freelanced as a weapon show emcee on”Keep Talking,” as a TV guest star and in featured movie roles in”The Gazebo,””Happy Anniversary” and”It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.” Reiner’s 1958 book”Enter Laughing,” loosely based on his own experiences, was optioned to the stage by producer David Merrick. Reiner did a legit adaptation in 1963 and then led the movie version in 1967, indicating his motion picture directing debut.
For Broadway he wrote and directed the farce”Something Different,” which ran for a couple months in 1967-68; helmed”Difficult to Get Help” in 1972; penned the book to the musical”So Long, 174th Street,” that had a very short run in 1976; and directed”The Roast” at 1980.
In 1961 Reiner drew on his adventures with Caesar to create and produce”The Dick Van Dyke Show,” a ratings cornerstone for CBS to the subsequent five years. Reiner made guest appearances as the irascible variety show host Alan Brady. The series won Emmys for writing its initial three decades and for producing its two. In 1967, Reiner picked up yet another Emmy for his writing in a reunion range show with Caesar, Coca and Morris.
Although the”Enter Laughing” movie was received, Reiner continued to guide steadily over the next few decades. “Where’s Poppa? ,” an offbeat humor he directed in 1970, became a cult favorite. Similarly, two other Martin vehicles, the gumshoe spoof”Dead Men Do not Wear Plaid” and”The Man With Two Brains,” found bigger audiences after their release in theaters.
There have been also several less-than-successful movies, such as 1969’s”The Comic,” to which Reiner also contributed some of the script; 2 similarly titled mid-’80s misfires,”Summer Rental” and”Summer School”;”Bert Rigby, You’re a Fool”; 1990’s”Sibling Rivalry”; along with a 1993 spoof of”Basic Instinct” called”Fatal Instinct.” He also appeared in the majority of these pics.
While the last movie he directed was that the 1997 romantic comedy”That Old Feeling,” starring Bette Midler and Dennis Farina, Reiner was an active existence in guest roles on television and in supporting roles in movies during the 1990s and 2000s, even as he neared and then surpassed his 90th birthday.
Born in the Bronx, he graduated from high school at 16 and worked as a machinist while studying acting. After short stints in summer stock and about the Borscht Belt circuit, then he entered the Army. His acting abilities caused him to the attention of Maurice Evans’ special services unit, where Reiner first met prospective”Show of Shows” cohort Howard Morris. For the remainder of the war that he toured South Pacific bases in G.I. revues.
He hit the floor running in New York following the war, landing a part in G.I. revue”Call Me Mister” and in 1948 appeared in the Broadway musical revue”Interior 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 early 1950, Reiner became a part of the storied group working in front of and behind the camera on Caesar’s NBC variety show”Your Show of Shows,” a 90-minute comedy-variety show that aired live on Saturday nights. The authors area was packed with showbiz legends such as Neil Simon Brooks, Larry Gelbart, Mel Tolkin and Lucille Kallen.
Once”Your Show of Shows” finished in 1954, Reiner and series regular Howard Morris proceeded on with Caesar to star in another NBC variety show,”Caesar’s Hour,” which ran on NBC from 1954 into 1957. When Reiner decided to shepherd his own sitcom, he teamed with producers Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard to produce”Dick Van Dyke Show.”
Van Dyke has been the fourth partner in the production company Calvada, that has maintained ownership of this timeless humor. “Dick Van Dyke Show” showcased Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore as Rob and Laura Petrie, a version of Reiner and his wife Estelle living in the suburbs of New Rochelle while Reiner commuted to Manhattan to operate on Caesar’s shows.
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 introduced with the WGA’s Valentine Davies Award, recognizing both his composing heritage and valued service to the guild, the amusement industry and community at large.
He authored several memoirs and novels, including a sequel to”Input,””Continue Laughing,””My Anecdotal Life” and”I Remember Me”
In the 2003″My Anecdotal Life,” he observed,”Inviting people to laugh along with you as you’re laughing at yourself is a good thing to do. You might be a fool but you’re the idiot in charge.”
— Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.