Carl Reiner (March 20, 1922 – June 29, 2020) was an American actor, comedian, director, screenwriter, and publisher whose career spanned 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. During the 1960s, Reiner was best known as the creator, producer, and writer of, and actor on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
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.
In 1961, the Head of the Family 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 and thereafter entered a long run of syndication. In 1966, Reiner co-starred in The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming.
On The Dick Van Dyke Show, Reiner 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 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).
The comedy icon might have known he was in failing health Saturday, when he tweeted fondly about his life.
“Two and a Half Men” star Jon Cryer called Reiner a “brilliant and hilarious” role model and recalled the time he took the veteran’s place as host of the Directors Guild of America Awards in 2009. Cryer posted a picture of a hilarious letter Reiner sent him after the latter couldn’t make the gig due to health issues.
To end the condolences George Clooney said, “Carl Reiner made every room he walked into funnier, smarter, kinder. It all seemed so effortless,” What an incredible gift he gave us all, He was a life well lived and we’re all the better for it. Rest in peace, my friend”, he finished with a sigh.
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