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.
Reiner died on Monday night of natural causes in his Beverly Hills home, entertainment news outlet Variety reported, citing the legendary comedian‘s assistant Judy Nagy.
Reiner’s career spanned seven decades and every medium from theatre and recordings to television and movies.
Highlights included directing Oh, God!, three collaborations with Steve Martin and a role as an elderly con man in the revived Ocean’s Eleven series.
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.
Rob Reiner mourned his father’s passing, posting on Twitter, “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 was my guiding light.
— Rob Reiner (@robreiner) June 30, 2020
George Clooney told Variety that Reiner “made every room he walked into funnier, smarter, kinder”.
“What an incredible gift he gave us all. His was a life well lived and we’re all the better for it,” Clooney said.
Reiner’s longtime friend Alan Alda said Reiner’s talent would live on for a long time, “but the loss of his kindness and decency leaves a hole in our hearts”.
Steve Martin tweeted “Goodbye to my greatest mentor in movies and in life. Thank you, dear Carl.”
My friend Carl Reiner died last night. His talent will live on for a long time, but the loss of his kindness and decency leaves a hole in our hearts. We love you, Carl. pic.twitter.com/QWyNOYILhW
— Alan Alda (@alanalda) June 30, 2020
Jerry Seinfeld said that “anyone in comedy who got to know or even just meet Carl Reiner felt that they had been given a great gift”.
Reiner expressed his approach to his work in his book My Anecdotal Life.
“Inviting people to laugh at you while you are laughing at yourself is a good thing to do. You may be the fool but you are the fool in charge,” he wrote.
Carl Reiner (RIP) and Mel Brooks, best friends enjoying each other. [📷Robert Trachtenberg] pic.twitter.com/3l6nUKwRFQ
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) June 30, 2020
Reiner, the Bronx-born son of a watchmaker, appeared in several Broadway musicals after serving in WWII before he was hired to join Caesar’s popular TV sketch comedy series Your Show of Shows in the 1950s.
Encouraged by his wife to develop a TV show as his own, Reiner later began work on a sitcom pilot which CBS ultimately picked up, The Dick Van Dyke Show.
He earned several Emmys writing and producing the hit series, and a reprisal of his Alan Brady role three decades later for a guest spot on the 1990s sitcom Mad About You earned him yet another Emmy.
Reiner later directed George Burns in the title role of the 1977 comedy film Oh God! before collaborating with Steve Martin for a string of movies, including The Jerk, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid and The Man with Two Brains.
Reiner never strayed far from television, continuing to make guest appearances on various shows such as Two and a Half Men and Hot in Cleveland well into his 90s, as well as keeping up a busy Twitter account.