Carl Reiner, Creator of ‘Dick Van Dyke Show,’ Dead at 98

Updated: 2020-07-01 23:45:19

LOS ANGELES—Carl Reiner, a driving force in American comedy as a writer for television pioneer Sid Caesar, partner of Mel Brooks and creator and co-star of the classic sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” has died at age 98.

“He passed away last night at the age of 98 of natural causes, at his home in Beverly Hills,” Reiner’s assistant Judy Nagy told Reuters on Tuesday.

Reiner’s career spanned seven decades and every medium from theater and recordings to television and movies, including directing “Oh, God!,” three collaborations with Steve Martin and a role as an elderly con man in the revived “Ocean’s Eleven” series.

He was still taking voice roles in his 90s and had a key role in “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast,” a documentary about people who keep busy into their 90s.

Reiner is survived by three children, including Rob Reiner, director of several hit movies and known for playing Archie Bunker’s son-in-law “Meathead” in the hit TV comedy “All in the Family.” Reiner’s wife of 64 years, Estelle, died in 2008.

Actor Reiner and his wife Estelle pose at a premiere of the HBO documentary "If You're Not In the Obit, Eat Breakfast" in Beverly Hills
Actor Carl Reiner and his wife Estelle pose at a premiere of the HBO documentary “If You’re Not In the Obit, Eat Breakfast” in Beverly Hills, Calif., on May 17, 2017. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Reiner, the Bronx-born son of a watchmaker, started in entertainment as a teenager in a touring theater troupe that performed Shakespearean plays. But his career took a decisive turn after he joined the Army Signal Corps during World War Two.

Recruited into a special unit that put on shows for the troops, Reiner began writing and performing his own comedy material.

Returning to New York City after the war, Reiner appeared in several Broadway musicals, including a lead in “Call Me Mister,” before he was hired to join Caesar’s popular TV sketch comedy series “Your Show of Shows” in the 1950s.

Reiner was part of Caesar’s ensemble of performers as well as a celebrated writing team that included such then-unknown talents as Brooks, Neil Simon and Larry Gelbart.

Reiner and Brooks remained close into their late 90s with Reiner telling USA Today in 2019 that they got together regularly to watch game shows and movies.

Brooks joined Reiner in creating the “2,000-Year-Old Man” routine in which Reiner interviewed the world’s oldest living man, played by Brooks, who deadpans satiric, first-person anecdotes of history in a thick Jewish accent.

By Steve Gorman

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