Carl Reiner is a patriarch of modern American comedy on both the big and little screen.
The 12-time Emmy Award winner is perhaps best known as creator, producer and actor in “The Dick Van Dyke Show” of the 1960s. Younger audiences might also recognize his work as a director of films such as “All of Me,” “The Jerk” and “Fatal Instinct,” and more recently as an actor in the “Ocean’s” trilogy. He has also written several novels.
He has been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame and received the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Reiner grew up in the Bronx, the son of a watchmaker. When he graduated from high school – a year early – his GPA was too low to get him into college, he told The Times in 2009. Instead, he went to work as a shipping clerk and then as a machinist’s helper.
One day, his brother Charlie read in the paper about a free dramatic workshop in New York sponsored by the Works Progress Administration and urged Carl to try it.
Reiner worked during the day and traveled from his home in the Bronx to acting class in Manhattan at night. Six months later he got a job acting at the old Gilmore Theater on 64th Street off Central Park, and his career was launched.
During a summer theater stint in the Adirondacks in 1942, he met his wife of 65 years, Estelle. After they married, he did a tour in the Army during World War II.
Upon returning to civilian life, Reiner returned to the stage and then transitioned into television. In the 1950s, he worked as an actor and writer on "Your Show of Shows" with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, cranking out 90 minutes of live, original comedy a week.
His first novel, "Enter Laughing," published in 1958, was adapted as a Broadway play and a feature film.
Reiner’s work on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” in the 1960s won him seven of his 12 Emmys. He played toupee-wearing variety host Alan Brady and wrote scripts for 40 of the first 60 shows.
Reiner’s career has included collaborations with other big-name comics. He teamed up with Mel Brooks on a series of skits dubbed “The 2,000-Year-Old Man,” which became one of his best-loved pieces of work.
Steve Martin has called him an "icon of 20th century comedy," The Times reported, and Jerry Seinfeld once told a theater full of Mark Twain fans that Twain would be lucky to type his script changes.
And show business success runs in the family. Carl’s son, filmmaker Rob Reiner, has his own Walk of Fame star.