“Inviting people to laugh with you while you are laughing at yourself is a good thing to do. You may be the fool, but you’re the fool in charge.” Carl Reiner
Veteran actor/comedian Carl Reiner, who first gained attention with his Emmy-nominated performance in the skit show “Your Show of Shows” (1950-1954), was critically applauded for his comic role as George Hanson in the comedy series “Caesar’s Hour” (1954-1957), where he took home two Emmy Awards. His famed reputation as a brilliant and talented comedian rose with the sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (1961-1966, won two Emmy Awards), where he carried out the multiple tasks of screenwriter, producer, director, as well as playing the signature role of Alan Brady. After delivering the same role in an episode of “Mad About You” (1995), Reiner won another Emmy Award.
The talented Carl also received three Grammy nominations for his comedy albums 2,000 Years with Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks (1960) and 2,000 and One Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks (1961), as well as his narrative recording Tell Me A Scary Story (2003). Reiner, who in 2000 was handed a Mark Twain Prize for Comedy from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, will appear as Saul Bloom in the third follow-up Ocean’s Thirteen (2007), directed by Steven Soderbergh.
Outside the limelight, the comedian is also an honorary brother of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity based out of Emerson College in Boston, and was given a Connor Award in 1980 by the fraternity. An inductee of the Television Academy Hall of Fame, Reiner is also the father of actor/director Rob Reiner, director Lucas Reiner and a daughter from his marriage to Estelle Reiner.
Childhood and Family:
Carl Reiner was born on March 20, 1922, in Bronx, New York, to Bessie and Irving Reiner (watchmaker). Showing a noticeable passion and talent in acting, Carl was advised by his only brother Charles Reiner (died on February 28, 2001, at age 82) to enroll in the Works Public Administration Dramatic Workshop in New York. Later, Carl gave credit to the brother’s contribution for his future career.
As for his married life, Carl is the husband of singer Estelle Reiner, whom he married on December 24, 1943. From the marriage, he has two sons who later followed in his father’s footsteps in the movie industry, Rob Reiner (actor/director, born on March 6, 1945) and Lucas Reiner (director, born in 1960). He is also the father of a daughter named Sylvia Anne Reiner (orthopedic surgeon, born in 1947).
During World War II, Carl Reiner served in the US Army, performing with Major Maurice Evans’ Special Services Unit in the South Pacific. After returning home, he went to the stage and had his debut in the Broadway production of “Call Me Mister” (1947) before trying the small screen with a regular role in the comedy series “The Fashion Story” (1948-1949). Reiner, who appeared in the Broadway musical “Alive and Kicking” (1949), became a regular performer in the variety musical comedy show “The Fifty-Fourth Street Revue” (1949-1950). He also joined comedians Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca and Howard Morris in the skit show “Your Show of Shows” (1950-1954), which eventually brought him an Emmy nomination for Best Series Supporting Actor.
Evidently displaying his talent in comedy, Reiner made a second collaboration with Sid Caesar and Howard Morris in the comedy series “Caesar’s Hour” (1954-1957), where he wittily played a commuter named George Hanson and immediately won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in 1956, and another Emmy for Best Continuing Supporting in 1957. In the long run, he was also credited as the writer and the story consultant for the series.
Following the publishing of his semi-autobiographical novel “Enter Laughing” in 1958, Reiner was seen in the TV quiz programs “Keep Talking” (1958-1959, as the host) and “Take a Good Look” (1960-1961, as a panelist). In between his promising small screen career, the comedian made a first motion picture performance as Bud in the family comedy Happy Anniversary (1959), as well as received a Grammy nomination for his comedy album titled 2,000 Years with Carl Reiner & Mel Brooks (1960).
Employing his comedic talent, Reiner created the pilot for a sitcom named Head of the Family (1960, also executive produced). The sitcom was not a success, but Reiner rewrote and recast the series. He also earned a second Grammy nomination for his spin-off album 2,000 and One Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks (1961). On screen, the actor had the supporting role of Russ Lawrence in the romantic comedy Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961) and made extra appearances as the German officer, the cad and the cowboy in the self-written comedy The Thrill of It All (1963). His next screenwriting work for the TV comedy A Child’s Guide to Screenwriting (1964) apparently led him to a critical success in script making.
With the recreated material from his Head of the Family pilot, Reiner chose actor Dick Van Dyke to play Rob Petrie in the successful sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (1961-1966). Apart from his tasks as the writer and producer for the series, the brilliant comedian also appeared as TV star Alan Brady and took on his first directing job. Before long, his efforts garnered him two Emmys, one for Outstanding Comedy Series and one for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy.
Reiner then went to the big screen for a movie directorial debut with the romantic comedy Enter Laughing (1967), in which he also produced and wrote the screenplay based on his own novel, before providing his voice for three animated characters in the cartoon series “Linus! The Lion Hearted” (1964-1969, voiced Sascha Grouse, Dinny Kangaroo, and Rory Raccoon). He also starred as Walt Whittaker in the war comedy The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming (1966), had a small turn as a technical adviser in A Guide for the Married Man (1967) and appeared as Al Schilling in the self-written and directed drama comedy The Comic (1969).
Back to the director’s chair, Reiner directed actors George Segal and Ruth Gordon in the black comedy Where’s Poppa (1970), as well as helmed the follow up “The New Dick Van Dyke Show” (1971-1974, also wrote) and the sitcom “A Touch of Grace” (1973). In addition, he created the TV pilot Starring: Nancy Clancy (1973), wrote the story of the TV animation Free to Be... You & Me (1974) and co-wrote the screenplay of the animated The 2000 Year Old Man (1975, also voiced the Interviewer).
He also had a starring turn as Mr. Angel, an emissary of Heaven coming down to Earth each week, in the short-lived series “Good Heavens” (1976, also helmed) and as a guest in the comedy movie Oh, God (1977, also helmed). Next, he directed The End (1978, starring Burt Reynolds), the romantic comedy The One and Only (1978) and The Jerk (1979, co-written by and featured Steve Martin). In between his hectic work on TV, Reiner made his directing debut on stage with The Roast (1980).
Subsequent to his roles in Steve Martin: Comedy Is Not Pretty (1980, TV) and Skokie (1981, TV), Reiner re-teamed with Steve Martin in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982), a self-written and directed film noir parody where he also played Juliet’s Butler/Field Marshall Wilfred von Kluck. The collaboration continued in The Man with Two Brains (1983, Reiner directed and wrote) and All of Me (1984, Reiner directed). After helming Summer Rental (1985) and Summer School (1987, also appeared as Mr. Dearadorian), the actor took a part in Disney’s TV special program Mickey’s 60th Birthday (1988). Reiner also proved his directing skill with the musical comedy Bert Rigby, You’re a Fool (1989) and Sibling Rivalry (1990).
The actor joined his son Lucas Reiner, playing Doctor Von Mobil in the sci-fi comedy The Spirit of ‘76 (1990) before having the part of Judge Ben Arugula in the self-helmed spoof Fatal Instinct (1993). Amazingly, his guest performance as Alan Brady, his old role in “Caesar’s Hour,” in the sitcom “Mad About You” (1995) won him an Emmy for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. After guest starring in the animated series “Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man” (1996) and “Hercules” (1998, voiced Prometheus), Reiner was nominated for a second Emmy’s Best Guest Actor for his episodic appearance as Sid Barry in the sitcom “Beggars and Choosers” (1999).
The recipient of the 2000 Mark Twain Prize for Comedy from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Reiner was cast as P.G. Biggershot in The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000) before expanding his fame to action thriller fans with his scene-stealing turn as Saul Bloom, a veteran con artist, in the star-studded Ocean’s Eleven (2001), for director Steven Soderbergh.
After guest performing in “Ally McBeal” (2002), the actor summoned up his previous successful role by writing the animated TV film The Alan Brady Show (2003) and creating the Emmy-nominated special reunion program on TV, The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited (2004, also executive produced). Reiner, who earned another Grammy nomination for his narrative album Tell Me A Scary Story (2003), also reprised his turn of Saul Bloom in the less-appreciated sequel Ocean’s Twelve (2004) before doing voiceover work for Sarmoti, a character in the animated fable series “Father of the Pride” (2005).
For 2007, Reiner is assigned to reprise his role of Saul Bloom in the third sequel Ocean’s Thirteen. Still under Steven Soderbergh’s direction, the actor will rejoin George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle and Andy Garcia in another adventure of criminal exploits.