Carl Reiner, author-actor-writer-director, and one of television's most creative
minds, has influenced nearly every major comedic talent of the past 50 years.
Born in the Bronx on March 20, 1922, he was the son of a watchmaker. At Evander
Childs High School, his interest was baseball, but at age seventeen he took a
job as a machinist helper in the millinery trade. He simultaneously enrolled in
a drama class that was sponsored by the Government's Works Project Administration
(WPA). He soon found work in a semi-professional, non-paying theatre company.
In 1942, Reiner went into the Army and was trained as a radio operator. He later
studied French on assignment at Georgetown University in order to become an interpreter,
but ultimately became a teletype operator in the Signal Corps where, on the way
to Iwo Jima from Hawaii, was assigned to Maurice Evans' Special Entertainment
Unit. There for 18 months, he toured the South Pacific as a comedian in GI reviews.
After three more years in various Broadway musicals, he became Sid Caesar's versatile
and popular second banana in the classic television comedy review, "Your
Show of Shows," with Caesar and Imogene Coca. In 1950, during breaks in the
legendary writing room for Caesar's show, Reiner and cast member Mel Brooks started
improvising the 2000 Year Old Man interviews. The 2000 Year Old Man (Brooks) and
his amazed yet always-skeptical interviewer (Reiner) entertained their friends
and colleagues during the 1950s, as they worked on Your Show Of Shows and
Caesar's Hour. For the latter, Reiner received two Emmys for Best Supporting
Actor. Finally coaxed into a recording studio in 1960, Reiner and Brooks made
their first, best-selling album, 2000 Years With Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks,
which earned a Grammy nomination and established Brooks as a performer and propelled
Reiner's screen-writing career. They were stars of five albums (three of them
nominated for Grammys) between 1960-1973, and in 1974 their voices were featured
in an animated video. In 1999, they won a Grammy for their CD, The Two Thousand
Year Old Man In The Year 2000. (Rhino Records)
In 1958, his first novel, Enter Laughing, was published. A semi-autobiographical
work, the book chronicled a young man's frustrations as a machinist helper in
the millinery trade and his eventual entry into show business. The book subsequently
became the basis for a Broadway play (adapted by Joe Stein) and later a feature
film, which Reiner directed and co-produced.
In 1961, Reiner created The Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran for five seasons
and has been in syndication ever since, with Reiner playing toupeé-topped
star Alan Brady. The beloved show earned Reiner seven of his 12 Emmys--three for
writing and four as producer/creator. During that first season, Reiner also wrote
his first feature film, the romantic comedy, The Thrill Of It All, starring
James Garner and Doris Day. Reiner went on to become a major Hollywood director
and writer with such comedy hits as Where's Poppa? (1970), Enter Laughing
(1967), Oh, God (1977), The Comic (1969), four Steve Martin pictures--The
Jerk (1979), Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), The Man With Two
Brains (1983), and All Of Me (1984), as well as Summer Rental
(1985), The One And Only (1978), Summer School (1987), Bert Rigby,
You're A Fool (1989), Sibling Rivalry (1990), Fatal Instinct
(1993), and That Old Feeling (1997). Reiner also played a starring role
in the hit comedy The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966),
and had featured or cameo roles in It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963),
The Gazebo (1959), Generation (1969), The End (1978), Dead
Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), and The Slums of Beverly Hills (1998).
Reiner is the author of three best-selling novels, Enter Laughing (1958), All
Kinds Of Love (1993), and Continue Laughing (1995). Twenty-four years after
The 2000 Year Old Man's last recording and forty-seven years after the inception
of the character, Reiner and Brooks again rewrote history with their book, The
2000 Year Old Man In The Year 2000 (Including How To Not Die And Other Good
Tips), from Cliff Street Books/HarperCollins (1997). Last year, the same publisher
released Reiner's current and successful book of short stories, How Paul Robeson
Saved My Life, And Other Mostly Happy Stories.
Last year, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honored Mr. Reiner by
inducting him into The Television Academy Hall of Fame.
Reiner and his wife, the former Estelle Lebost, were married December 24, 1943.
Their three children are Rob Reiner, actor-writer-director and social activist,
Annie Reiner, poet-painter-playwright-psychoanalyst, and Lucas Reiner, painter-screenwriter-director.