Sad news to report this morning as comedy legend Carl Reiner has died at the age of 98. Reiner passed away from natural causes in his home in Beverly Hills.
Every comedian should aspire to have a career like Carl Reiner. At some point after a hit you inevitably hit a fallow period where everyone forgets you. But not Reiner. He created one of the all-time great sitcoms with The Dick Van Dyke Show, a series that’s still funny decades later. He directed one of the all-time great comedies The Jerk. His elongated skit “2000-Year-Old Man” with Mel Brooks is one of the best pieces of comedy of all-time as Reiner played the straight man to Brooks’ “wise” old man. And then he kept knocking it out of the park with guest spots on shows like Fraiser, Mad About You, Ally McBeal as well as memorable turns in the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy. Over the course of his storied career, Reiner won nine Emmys for writing, producing, and acting. He won a Grammy in 1999 with Mel Brooks for the Spoken Comedy Album The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000.
The magnificent thing about Reiner’s career is that you really can’t pick one thing he’s remembered for. You could write at length about changing the nature of the sitcom and perfecting the format with The Dick Van Dyke Show. Or you could talk about his contributions to absurdist comedy with something as bizarre and wonderful as The Jerk. Or you could talk about A+ character acting with his lovely turns in the Ocean’s trilogy. And all of that would just be scratching the surface.
Reiner was also by all accounts a lovely human being. He tweeted this three days ago:
Our deepest condolences go out to Mr. Reiner’s family and friends. He will be deeply missed.