Depending on who you talk to, Carl Reiner is best known as a co-star on the legendary television program, Your Show of Shows…or as the creator and co-star of The Dick Van Dyke Show…or as The Interviewer of “The 2000 Year Old Man”…or a director of feature films, including Where’s Poppa (1970), Oh, God! (1977), THE JERK (1979) and All of Me (1984)…or as father of actor-writer-director-producer Rob Reiner and husband of jazz vocalist Estelle Reiner…or as the recipient of 12 Emmy Awards…or…
Born in the Bronx, Reiner is the son of a watchmaker. At Evander Childs High School, his interest was baseball, but at age sixteen he took a job as a machinist’s helper in the millinery trade. He simultaneously enrolled in drama school for eight months and landed a part as a second tenor in an updated version of The Merry Widow.
Reiner subsequently served in World War II, first training as a radio operator in the Air Force, followed by an assignment to Georgetown University to study French in order to become an interpreter, then as a Teletype operator in the Signal Corps, and later as a comedian and actor with Maurice Evans’ Special Services Entertainment Unit. He toured the Pacific for eighteen months in G.I. revues.
Upon his honorable discharge in 1946, he won the leading role in the national company of Call Me Mister and after three more years in various Broadway musicals, joined Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca on Your Show of Shows.
In 1958, his first novel, Enter Laughing, was published. An autobiographical work, the book chronicled Reiner’s frustrations as a young 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 feature film (directed and co-produced by Reiner) of the same name.
In 1961, Reiner conceived The Dick Van Dyke Show, which would become one of the most famous and best loved sitcoms in television history. Of course, audiences have never forgotten his co-starring role on the show as the toupee-wearing producer, Alan Brady. That same year, he wrote his first feature film, The Thrill of It All (1963), for Doris Day and James Garner.
Reiner’s other feature film credits as a director include: The Comic (1969), co-written by Reiner and Aaron Ruben; Where’s Poppa? (1970), starring George Segal and Ruth Gordon; Oh, God! (1977), starring George Burns; films with actor Steve Martin: THE JERK (1979), Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), The Man With Two Brains (1983) and All of Me (1984); Summer Rental (1985), with John Candy; The One And Only (1978), with Henry Winkler; Summer School (1987), with Mark Harmon; Bert Rigby, You’re A Fool! (1989), which Reiner also wrote; Sibling Rivalry (1990), with Kirstie Alley; Fatal Instinct (1993) with Armand Assante and Kate Nelligan; and That Old Feeling (1997), with Bette Midler and Dennis Farina. Mr. Reiner and Mel Brooks released a CD and book with new material in October 1997, The 2000 Year Old Man In The Year 2000 (Harper Collins Publisher and Rhino Records Distributor).
His motion picture acting credits include a starring role in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966), and featured or cameo roles in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The Gazebo (1959), Generation (1969), Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The End (1978), and Slums of Beverly Hills (1998). His most recent acting role was of Sol in the remake of Ocean’s 11 in 2002. He is the voice of one of the characters in Good Boy, which opened in October 2003. He reprised his role of Saul in Ocean’s 12, which opened December, 2004. Ocean’s 13 opened in June 2007.
His TV acting credits include features roles in Beggars and Choosers, Family Law, The Bernie Mack Show, Crossing Jordan, The Bonnie Hunt Show and Boston Legal. He was the voice of one of the characters in the DreamWorks animated television show Father Of The Pride. TV Land produced and broadcast an animated half-hour pilot of Reiner’s famous character, Alan Brady. He’s also had recurring roles in Disney’s Jake and the Neverland Pirates animated TV show and Family Guy from 20th Century Fox.
CBS Television produced, along with TV Land, The Dick Van Dyke Reunion Special Show, which aired on Tuesday, May 11, 2004. He has a recurring role in the animated The Cleveland Show. He is also the voice of Larry the Turtle in Duck Duck Goose.
His second novel, All Kinds of Love, was published in 1993. His third novel, Continue Laughing, was published in 1995. How Paul Robeson Saved My Life, a book of short stories, was published in 1999. A later book, My Anecdotal Life, was published in April of 2003 and his children’s book, Tell Me A Scary Story, was published in Fall 2003. The Two Thousand Year Old Man Goes To School was published Spring 2005. NNNNN, a novel, was published in February 2006. Another book, Just Desserts, was published in July 2009. He has published two other children’s books: Tell Me Another Scary Story and Tell Me A Silly Story. Carl’s memoir, I Remember Me, was published in January 2012.
In 2014, the second volume of his memoirs, I Just Remembered, was published. The third volume, What I Forgot To Remember, was published 2015, along with another children’s book, The Secret Treasure of Taka Pahka. His next book, Why and When The Dick Van Dyke Show Was Born, was also released in 2015. His latest, Carl Reiner, Now You’re Ninety-Four, was just released in November 2016.
Reiner was married for 64 years to Estelle, before her passing in October 2008. They are also parents of two other children: Annie Reiner, a poet-painter-playwright-psychoanalyst; and Lucas Reiner, a painter-screenwriter-director. They are the proud grandparents of five grandchildren. He calls all three of his children “terribly civilized, wonderful human beings.”