Comedy legend Carl Reiner dead at 98

Lawrence Kim
June 30, 2020

The giant of comedy was 98 when he passed away in California.

He later appeared as an elderly con man in the 2001 remake of Ocean's Eleven.

Reiner's assistant Judy Nagy said he died on Monday night of natural causes, in his Beverly Hills home.

Reiner married Estelle Lebost in 1943, and they stayed married until her death in 2008.

Originally ad-libbed by Reiner and Brooks at a party, the sketch evolved into a perennial TV favourite and basis for five comedy albums, the latest of which earned a 1998 Grammy Award.

Reiner, the Bronx-born son of a watchmaker, started in entertainment as a teenager in a touring theater troupe that performed Shakespearean plays. During his military service, after being drafted into the Army Air Forces during World War II, Reiner would begin his acting career by working in Special Services and performing around the Pacific theater, entertaining troops in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima. The following year, Reiner once again won for Caesar's Hour in the Best Continuing Supporting Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic or Comedy Series category. That led to a writing job on "Your Show of Shows", which starred Sid Caesar, and he later teamed with Mel Brooks on "The Steve Allen Show", playing the straight man to Brooks' 2,000 Year Old Man persona.

In 1962, 1963 and 1964, Reiner won Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy at the Emmys for The Dick Van Dyke Show.

In his 90s, virtually every day in Beverly Hills, Reiner met with Brooks, after they both lost their wives, and they would sit on Reiner's sofa watching movies, telling jokes and recalling a lifetime of comedy.

Reiner followed up the show's brief but wildly successful run by moving to directing, where he was behind the camera for "Enter Laughing", "Where's Poppa?" and "The Jerk", which was the first starring role for comedian Steve Martin, who had also written the screenplay.

Reiner wrote four volumes of memoirs, including "I Just Remembered" in 2014, as well as children's books.

In recent years, Reiner kept busy with a pair of recurring roles on Hot in Cleveland (as Elka's on-again/off-again boyfriend Max) and Two and a Half Men (as Evelyn's nonagenarian beau Marty Pepper).

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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