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Emmy Award-winning comedy legend Carl Reiner dies aged 98

Movie News 01/07/2020

Carl Reiner has passed away at the age of 98 years old on Monday night.

Best known for creating and starring in The Dick Van Dyke Show, Reiner debuted his acting career in several Broadway musicals like Inside U.S.A. and Alive and Kicking and had the lead role in Call Me Mister.

Reiner passed away of natural causes at his Beverly Hills home surrounded by family.

The New Yorker had his break in acting in Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows in 1950 and worked alongside writers like Mel Brooks and Neil Simon. Ten years later, he teamed up with Brooks on The Steve Allen Show as a comedy duo, which gained rising popularity and recognition, so much so that their routine was expanded into a series of five comedy albums and a 1975 animated TV special. They won a Grammy Award for Spoken Comedy Album.

Actors Howard Morris, Sid Caesar, Janet Blair and Carl Reiner, in a sketch from the television show 'Your Show of Shows', circa 1950-1954
Carl Reiner (R) in 'Your Show of Shows'

He started his directing career in 1961 for The Dick Van Dyke Show that ran from 1961 - 1966 that starred Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. He went on to direct several other films like Where's Poppa? (1970), Oh, God! (1977), The Jerk (1979), Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), The Man with Two Brains (1983) and All of Me (1984)

"Of all the films I have directed, only Where's Poppa? is universally acknowledged as a cult classic. A cult classic, as you may know, is a film that was seen by a small minority of the world's filmgoers, who insist it is one of the greatest, most daring, and innovative moving pictures ever made. Whenever two or more cult members meet, they will quote dialogue from the classic and agree that 'the film was ahead of its time.' To be designated a genuine cult classic, it is of primary importance that the film fail to earn back the cost of making, marketing, and distributing it," he wrote in his memoir. "Where's Poppa? was made in 1969 for a little over $1 million. According to the last distribution statements I saw, it will not break even until it earns another $650,000."

In 2000, Reiner was honoured with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humour at the Kennedy Center. A year later, he made an appearance in the remake version of Ocean's Eleven as Saul Bloom. The role was reprised in Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen.

In 2009, he voiced acted for the animated film Madagascar and guest-starred on Two and a Half Men. His last acting career was for the 2019 animated film Toy Story 4 and reprised the role in Forky Asks a Question

In 2012, he was a guest on Jerry Seinfield's show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, where he spoke about his comedy career. 

Reiner with other Emmy Award winners in 1964

Reiner has earned one Grammy Award and 11 Primetime Emmy Awards throughout his seven-decade-career. He was also honoured with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Television Hall of Fame and was the first father-son duo (with his son Rob) to have their footprints and handprints added to a concrete slab at Grauman's Chinese Theater.

Reiner married singer Estelle Lebost in 1943, and the couple stayed together for 64 years until her death in 2008. They have three children together, Rob, Annie and Lucas.

Photo credits to Pictorial Parade and Gene Lester // Getty Images.