Reiner in 1960
|Born||March 20, 1922|
The Bronx, New York City, U.S.
|Medium||Stand-up, film, television, theatre|
|Genres||Observational comedy, black comedy, deadpan, surreal humor, sketch comedy, satire|
|Subject(s)||American culture, human interaction, pop culture, current events, self-deprecation|
(m. 1943; died 2008)
Carl Reiner (Yiddish: ; born March 20, 1922) is an American comedian, actor, director, screenwriter, and publisher whose career spans 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 Sid Caesar. In the 1960s, Reiner was best known as the creator, producer, writer, and actor on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Reiner famously formed a comedy duo with Mel Brooks in "2000 Year Old Man" and acted in films such as It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World (1963), The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966) and the Ocean's film series (2001-2007). He also had great success as a film director and writer and in the 1970s and 1980s. He co-wrote and directed some of Steve Martin's most successful films, including The Jerk (1979). He also directed notable comedies such as Where's Poppa? (1970), Oh, God! (1977), and All of Me (1984). Over his long and distinguished career, Reiner has won many awards and honors including, nine Emmy Awards, one Grammy Award, and The Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He is the father of actor and director Rob Reiner, author Annie Reiner, and artist Lucas Reiner, and the grandfather of Tracy Reiner.
Reiner was born in The Bronx, New York, on March 20, 1922, to Irving, a watchmaker, and Bessie (née Mathias) Reiner. His parents were Jewish immigrants; his father was from Austria and his mother was from Romania. His older brother Charlie served in the 9th Division in World War II and his ashes are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. At age 16, Charlie read in the New York Daily News about a free dramatic workshop being put on by the Works Progress Administration and told Carl about it (he would later credit Charlie with having changed his career plans). His uncle Harry Mathias was the first entertainer in his family; he had previously been working as a machinist, repairing sewing machines.
In 1943, Reiner was drafted into the Army Air Forces and served during World War II, eventually achieving the rank of corporal. He had initially trained to be a radio operator, but after spending three months in the hospital recovering from pneumonia, he was sent to Georgetown University for ten months of training as a French interpreter; it was here that he had his first experience as a director, putting on a Molière play entirely in French. In 1944, after completing language training, he was sent to Hawaii to work as a teleprinter operator. The night before he was scheduled to ship out for an unknown assignment, he attended a production of Hamlet by the Special Services entertainment unit. Following an audition for actor and Major Maurice Evans, he was subsequently transferred to Special Services. Over the following two years, Reiner performed around the Pacific theater, entertaining troops in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima until he was honorably discharged in 1946.
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 Max Leibman in Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, appearing on air in skits while also working alongside writers, such as Mel Brooks and Neil Simon. Reiner also worked on Caesar's Hour with Brooks, Simon, Woody Allen, Larry Gelbart, Mel Tolkin, Mike Stewart, Aaron Ruben, Sheldon Keller, and Gary Belkin.
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 5 comedy albums and a 1975 animated television special, with the last album in the series winning a Grammy Award for Spoken Comedy Album. The act gave Brooks "an identity as a comic performer for the first time," said Reiner. Brooks's biographer, William Holtzman, called their 12-minute act "an ingenious jazz improvisation ...", while Gerald Nachman described Reiner's part in guiding the act:
The routine relies totally on the team's mental agility and chemistry. It's almost heresy to imagine Brooks performing it with any other straight man. Reiner was a solid straight man to Caesar, but with Brooks he is the second-banana supreme...guiding his partner's churning comic mind.
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 re-titled 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.
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 include Where's Poppa? (1970), Oh, God! (1977), and The Jerk (1979).
In one of his memoirs, he writes, "Of all the films I have directed, only Where's Poppa? is universally acknowledged as a cult classic. A cult classic, as you may know, is a film that was seen by a small minority of the world's film goers, who insist it is one of the greatest, most daring, and innovative moving pictures ever made. Whenever two or more cult members meet, they will quote dialogue from the classic and agree that 'the film was ahead of its time.' To be designated a genuine cult classic, it is of primary importance that the film fail to earn back the cost of making, marketing, and distributing it. Where's Poppa? was made in 1969 for a little over $1 million. According to the last distribution statements I saw, it will not break even until it earns another $650,000."
Reiner had 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, playing a version of himself, and Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.
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 at the Kennedy Center, where he was honored by fellow friends and comedians, Mel Brooks, Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Steve Martin, Rob Reiner, Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, and Joy Behar.
A year later, he portrayed Saul Bloom in Ocean's Eleven, Steven Soderbergh's remake of 1960's Ocean's 11, and later reprised the role in 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 in Merry Madagascar and reprised his role in the Penguins of Madagascar episode "The All Nighter Before Christmas." In December 2009, he guest-starred as a television producer Marty Pepper on Two and a Half Men. In June 2010, Reiner guest starred in Hot in Cleveland as Elka Ostrovsky's date and reprised the role in July. He also made appearances in The Cleveland Show as Murray and wrote the story for the episode "Your Show of Shows", named after the program that started his career. In October 2013 and January 2014, Reiner reprised his role on Two and a Half Men.
In 2012, Reiner appeared as a guest on Jerry Seinfeld's show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. They talked at a dinner about his comedy career and Reiner invited Jerry to come and have dinner with Mel Brooks and himself. According to Reiner, every night, Brooks heads to Reiner's house to eat, watch Jeopardy (he tapes it) and watch movies. The one rule for movies: It has to be one where "somebody says, 'Secure the perimeter!' or 'Get some rest.'" Brooks "falls asleep with his mouth open" every time.
On December 24, 1943, Reiner married singer Estelle Lebost. The two were married for 64 years until her death in 2008. 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.... She died on October 25, 2008, at age 94.
He is the father of Rob Reiner (b. 1947), poet, playwright, and author Annie Reiner (b. 1949), and painter, actor, and director Lucas Reiner (b. 1960). Reiner has six grandchildren (four from Rob and two from Lucas) and five great-grandchildren.
Reiner has described himself as a Jewish atheist. He has said, "I have a very different take on who God is. Man invented God because he needed him. God is us." He also told Moment journalist Lynda Gorov that he developed an atheistic viewpoint as the Holocaust progressed. The Dick Van Dyke episode 'Life and Love of Joe Coogan' demonstrated Carl Reiner's wide range of ability, not only as a great comedy writer but his talent with drama and spirituality despite his protestation to the contrary. He had previously stated that he had become an atheist as the Holocaust progressed early in his life. Carl Reiner, listed as that episodes only writer, provides a sonnet read by two of the principle characters, also created by Reiner, demonstrating incredible passion regarding a conception of a higher power, humanity and their relationship and completely departed the comedy expected of the characters, even when previously these same characters were confronted with somber moments in other episodes. His ability with broader and deeper writing in this and other episodes provided poignant and touching moments in the otherwise constant lighthearted intent of the show.
|1959||The Gazebo||Harlow Edison|
|1961||Gidget Goes Hawaiian||Russ Lawrence|
|1963||The Thrill of It All||German Officer / Cad / Cowboy|
|1963||It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World||Tower Controller at Rancho Conejo|
|1965||John Goldfarb, Please Come Home!||Cameo Appearance||uncredited|
|1965||The Art of Love||Rodin|
|1966||Alice of Wonderland in Paris||Anatole (voice)|
|1966||Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title||Bald Bookstore Customer||uncredited|
|1966||The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming||Walt Whittaker|
|1967||A Guide for the Married Man||Technical Adviser (Rance G.)|
|1969||The Comic||Al Schilling|
|1973||Ten from Your Show of Shows|
|1977||Oh, God!||Dinah's Guest|
|1978||The End||Dr. James Maneet|
|1979||The Jerk||Carl Reiner The Celebrity|
|1981||The History of the World, Part 1||voice of God speaking to moses||uncredited|
|1982||Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid||Field Marshall VonKluck|
|1987||In the Mood||Alan Brady, Newsreel Narrator (voice)||uncredited|
|1987||Summer School||Mr. Dearadorian|
|1990||The Spirit of '76||Dr. Von Mobil|
|1993||Fatal Instinct||Judge Ben Arugula|
|1998||Slums of Beverly Hills||Mickey|
|2000||The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle||P. G. Biggershot|
|2001||Ocean's Eleven||Saul Bloom|
|2001||The Majestic||Studio Executive (voice)|
|2004||Ocean's Twelve||Saul Bloom|
|2007||Ocean's Thirteen||Saul Bloom|
|2019||Toy Story 4||Carl Reineroceros (voice)|||
|1978||The One and Only|
|1982||Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid|
|1983||The Man with Two Brains|
|1984||All of Me|
|1989||Bert Rigby, You're a Fool|
|1997||That Old Feeling|
|1963||The Thrill of It All|
|1965||The Art of Love|
|1967||Enter Laughing||with Joseph Stein|
|1969||The Comic||with Aaron Ruben|
|1982||Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid||with Steve Martin and George Gipe|
|1983||The Man with Two Brains||with Steve Martin and George Gipe|
|1989||Bert Rigby, You're a Fool|
|1950-1954||Your Show of Shows||Himself - Regular Performer||Variety Series|
|1954-1957||Caesar's Hour||Various||Variety Series|
|1958||The Sid Caesar Show||Woody Woodward||Variety Series|
|1961-1966||The Dick Van Dyke Show||Alan Brady||32 episodes|
|1970-1972||Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In||Guest Performer||3 episodes|
|1971||Night Gallery||Professor Peabody||Segment: Professor Peabody|
|1974||The Carol Burnett Show||Various characters||Episode: 7.17|
|1975||The 2000 Year Old Man||Interviewer (voice)||TV Special|
|1976||Good Heavens||Mr. Angel||13 episodes|
|1993||Frasier||Roger (voice)||Episode: Selling Out|
|1995||Mad About You||Alan Brady||Episode: The Alan Brady Show|
|1996||The Right to Remain Silent'||Norman Friedler||TV Movie|
|1997-2000||King of the Hill||Garry Kasner||2 episodes|
|1997||The Larry Sanders Show||Carl Reiner||episode: The Roast|
|1998||Disney's Hercules: The Animated Series||Prometheus (voice)||episode: Hercules and the Prometheus Affair|
|2002-2005||The Bernie Mac Show||Himself / Neighbor||3 episodes|
|2002||Crossing Jordan||Harry Macy||Episode: For Harry, with Love & Squalor|
|2002||Ally McBeal||Johnson Buck||Episode: Bygones|
|2002-2003||Life with Bonnie||Mr. Portinbody||3 episodes|
|2004-2005||Father of the Pride||Sarmoti (voice)||14 episodes|
|2005||Boston Legal||Milton Bombay||Episode: Let Sales Ring|
|2009||House||Eugene Schwartz||Episode: Both Sides Now|
|2009-2014||Two and a Half Men||Marty Pepper||4 episodes|
|2009||Merry Madagascar||Santa (voice)||short|
|2010||The Penguins of Madagascar||Santa Claus (voice)||Episode: The All Nighter Before Christmas|
|2010-2014||Hot in Cleveland||Max||8 episodes|
|2010-2011||The Cleveland Show||Murray (voice)||4 episodes|
|2011-2015||American Dad||Irv/Mailbox #1 (voice)||2 episodes|
|2012||Parks and Recreation||Ned Jones||Episode: Campaign Shake-Up|
|2012||Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee||Himself||Episode: I Want Sandwiches, I Want Chicken|
|2014||Bob's Burgers||Henry||Episode: Father of the Bob|
|2016||Family Guy||Old Man/Fantasy Baseball Coach (voice)||2 episodes|
|2016||Justice League: Action||The Wizard (voice)||Episode: Shazam Slam Part 1|
|2017||If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast||Himself||Documentary|
|2018||Duck Duck Goose||Larry (voice)||Animated Feature|
|2018||Angie Tribeca||Glenn-Allen Mixon||Episode: Behind the Scandalabra|
|2019||Forky Asks A Question||Carl Reineroceros (voice)||Episode: What is Love|
|1967||Good Morning World||4 episodes|
|1971-1974||The New Dick Van Dyke Show||10 episodes|
|1973||A Touch of Grace||episode: A Touch of Grace|
|1976||Good Heavens||7 episodes|
|1954-1957||Caesar's Hour||3 episodes|
|1959-1960||The Dinah Shore Chevy Show||11 episodes|
|1961-1966||The Dick Van Dyke Show||158 episodes; also creator|
|1962||The Comedy Spot||1 episode; also creator|
|1971-1974||The New Dick Van Dyke Show||72 episodes; also creator|
|1973||Lotsa Luck||22 episodes; also creator|
|2004||The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited||Creator|
|2010-2011||The Cleveland Show||Episode: Your Show of Shows|
|1948||Inside U.S.A.||Performer - Various Characters||Majestic Theatre|||
|1950||Alive and Kicking||Performer - Various Characters||Winter Garden Theatre|||
|1967||Something Different||Playwright, Director||Cort Theatre|||
|1972||Tough to Get Help||Director||Royale Theatre|||
|1976||So Long, 174th Street||Original Source Material by||Harkness Theatre|||
|1980||The Roast||Director||Winter Garden Theatre|||
|1954||Your Show of Shows||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|1956||Caesar's Hour||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
|1957||Caesar's Hour||Best Supporting Actor||Won|
|1958||Caesar's Hour||Best Supporting Actor||Won|
|1962||The Dick Van Dyke Show||Writing for a Comedy Series||Won|
|1963||The Dick Van Dyke Show||Writing for a Comedy Series||Won|
|1964||The Dick Van Dyke Show||Writing for a Comedy Series||Won|
|1965||The Dick Van Dyke Show||Outstanding Achievements in Entertainment||Won|
|1965||The Dick Van Dyke Show||Outstanding Achievements in Entertainment||Nominated|
|1966||Linus! The Lion Hearted||Special Classifications of Individual Achievement||Nominated|
|1966||The Dick Van Dyke Show||Outstanding Comedy Series||Won|
|1967||The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner Special||Outstanding Writing Achievement in Variety||Won|
|1995||Mad About You||Guest Actor in a Comedy Series||Won|
|2000||Beggars and Choosers||Guest Actor In A Comedy Series||Nominated|
|2004||The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited||Outstanding Special Class Program||Nominated|
|2018||If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast||Outstanding Narrator||Nominated|
|1960||2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks||Best Comedy Album||Nominated|
|1961||2001 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks||Best Comedy Album||Nominated|
|1963||Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks at the Cannes Film Festival||Best Comedy Album||Nominated|
|1996||The Prince and the Pauper (Mark Twain)||Best Spoken Word Album for Children||Nominated|
|1998||The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000||Best Comedy Album||Won|
|1999||How Paul Robeson Saved My Life And Other Mostly Happy Stories||Best Comedy Album||Nominated|
|2001||Letters From The Earth - Uncensored Writings By Mark Twain||Best Spoken Word Album||Nominated|
|2003||Tell Me A Scary Story||Best Spoken Word Album for Children||Nominated|