Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

'All of us in comedy have lost a giant': Stars pay tribute to comedy legend Carl Reiner who has died at the age of 98

Reiner, the creator of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show', died from natural causes on Monday night

Carl Reiner (L) has died at the age of 98. AFP
Carl Reiner (L) has died at the age of 98. AFP

Comedy stalwart Carl Reiner, who rose to fame as creator of The Dick Van Dyke Show, has died at the age of 98.

Reiner died from natural causes on Monday night at his home in Beverly Hills, the star’s assistant, Judy Nagy, confirmed on Tuesday.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 07, 2017 Carl Reiner (L) and Rob Reiner are honored with a hand and footprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX in Hollywood, California on April 7, 2017. Carl Reiner, a revered and versatile comedy entertainer who won nine Emmies and stayed active into the 1990s with roles in movies such as the "Ocean's Eleven" franchise, has died at the age of 98. Showbiz friends of the writer, actor, director and producer confirmed his death, which news reports said came the night of June 30, 2020 of natural causes at his home in Beverly Hills. / AFP / Mark RALSTON
Carl Reiner with son, actor and director Rob Reiner. AFP

Reiner was the father of The Wolf of Wall Street actor Rob Reiner, who tweeted on Tuesday evening that his “heart is hurting”, adding that his father was his “guiding light”.

Carl Reiner was a regular face on both the small and silver screens, appearing in films such as The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

In recent years, he was part of the roguish gang in the Ocean’s movies starring George Clooney, and appeared in documentaries including Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age and If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast.

After the news of his death, tributes have poured in from stars, with Van Dyke calling Reiner “kind, gentle, compassionate, empathetic and wise,” while Clooney said he made “every room he walked into funnier, smarter, kinder”.

(FILES) In this file photo Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize recipient comedian, director and producer Carl Reiner (L) answers questions with actor Dick Van Dyke during a press conference at the rehearsal for the celebration October 24, 2000 at the Kennedy Center in Washington,DC. Carl Reiner, a revered and versatile comedy entertainer who won nine Emmies and stayed active into the 1990s with roles in movies such as the "Ocean's Eleven" franchise, has died at the age of 98. Showbiz friends of the writer, actor, director and producer confirmed his death, which news reports said came the night of June 30, 2020 of natural causes at his home in Beverly Hills. / AFP / JOYCE NALTCHAYAN
Carl Reiner with actor Dick Van Dyke. AFP

Betty White said she was privileged to work with Reiner and described herself as “heartbroken.” Steve Martin said goodbye to “my greatest mentor in movies and in life. Thank you, dear Carl.”

Billy Crystal said: “All of us in comedy have lost a giant.” And Sarah Silverman said: “His humanity was beyond compare.”

Mel Brooks said he and Reiner had been best friends since meeting on Your Show of Shows.

“Carl was a giant, unmatched in his contributions to entertainment," Brooks said in a tribute. “When we were doing The 2000 Year Old Man together there was no better straight man in the world. So whether he wrote or performed or he was just your best friend – nobody could do it better. He’ll be greatly missed. A tired cliche in times like this, but in Carl Reiner’s case it’s absolutely true. He will be greatly missed.”

Reiner directed films including 1977's Oh, God! starring George Burns and John Denver; 1984's All of Me, with Martin and Lily Tomlin; and the 1970 comedy Where’s Poppa?

His books include Enter Laughing, an autobiographical novel later adapted into a film and Broadway show; and My Anecdotal Life, a memoir published in 2003. He recounted his childhood and creative journey in the 2013 book I Remember Me.

The star of US comedy legend Carl Reiner is seen on the Walk in Hollywood, California, June 30, 2020. The nine-time Emmy Award winner died at the age of 98 at his home in Beverly Hills on June 29, 2020. / AFP / Robyn Beck
The star of US comedy stalwart Carl Reiner on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. AFP

But many remember Reiner for The Dick Van Dyke Show, one of the most popular TV series of all time and a model of ensemble playing, physical comedy and timeless, good-natured wit. It starred Van Dyke as a television comedy writer working for a demanding, eccentric boss (Reiner) and living with his wife (Mary Tyler Moore in her first major TV role) and son.

“The Van Dyke show is probably the most thrilling of my accomplishments because that was very, very personal,” Reiner once said. “It was about me and my wife, living in New Rochelle and working on the Sid Caesar show."

The pilot, written by Reiner, was broadcast in July 1960, and ran until 1966. One famous fan, Orson Welles, was known for rushing to his bedroom in the afternoon so he could be near a TV when the show was on.

“Although it was a collaborative effort,″ Van Dyke later wrote, "everything about the show stemmed from his [Reiner’s] endlessly and enviably fascinating, funny and fertile brain, and trickled down to the rest of us."

One of Reiner's most famous credits is as director and co-producer of the much-loved 1989 romcom When Harry Met Sally.

Reiner was born in 1922, in New York City’s The Bronx borough, one of two sons of Jewish immigrants. He grew up in a working-class neighbourhood, where he learnt to mimic voices and tell jokes. After high school, he attended drama school, before joining a small theatre group.

FILE - In this May 26, 1963 file photo, Carl Reiner shows holds two Emmy statuettes presented to him as best comedy writer for the "Dick Van Dyke Show," during the annual Emmy Awards presentation in Los Angeles. Reiner, the ingenious and versatile writer, actor and director who broke through as a “second banana” to Sid Caesar and rose to comedy’s front ranks as creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and straight man to Mel Brooks’ “2000 Year Old Man,” has died, according to reports. Variety reported he died of natural causes on Monday night, June 29, 2020, at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 98. (AP Photo, File)
Carl Reiner shows holds two Emmy statuettes presented to him as best comedy writer for the 'Dick Van Dyke Show' in 1968. AP Photo

During the Second World War, Reiner joined the Army and toured in GI variety shows for a year and a half. Back out of uniform, he landed several stage roles, breaking through on Broadway in Call Me Mister.

He married his wife, Estelle, in 1943. Besides son Rob, the couple had another son, Lucas, a film director, and a daughter, Sylvia, a psychoanalyst and author.

Updated: July 1, 2020 07:37 PM

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