CARL REINER


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Carl Reiner was born in The Bronx in New York City in 1922. When he was 16 he discovered acting, but college and service in the Army during WWII came first. During the war, he married singer Estelle Lebost. He was 21 and she was 29, unusual for that time, but they remained married for 64 years until she passed away in 2008, when she was 94 (you almost surely know her from one classic line in son Rob's When Harry Met Sally, when she said "I'll have what she's having"!). After the war, Carl got some Broadway parts, and in 1950 he got his big break performing sketch comedy on Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, because he also became one of the writers, alongside Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart, Aaron Ruben and other all-time greats! In 1959, Reiner wrote and starred in a TV pilot called Head of the Family, which was autobiographical, about the home life of a TV writer. The network didn't like it, but two years later he tried again, this time casting super-likeable Dick Van Dyke in the lead role, and it was a giant hit. Reiner did get to act on the show, as Alan Brady (reportedly based on Caesar, Reiner's old boss). After the show went off the air, Reiner did some acting, writing, and directing, with mixed results. He wrote an autobiographical novel "Enter Laughing", which became a Broadway hit starring a then unknown Alan Arkin, and then was adapted into a movie with Reni Santoni in the lead role, and the final 12 minutes of that movie are among the funniest 12 minutes ever in a movie! He followed with the ultimate black comedy "Where's Poppa?" in 1979, he did the first of a series of movies with equally quirky wacky stand-up comedian Steve Martin, The Jerk, followed by Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, The Man with Two Brains and All of Me. After taking a "break", he resurfaced as an actor, most notably in the Ocean's 11 series. He has three children in the creative arts, but it is his son Rob, who is most famous, following in his father's footsteps as an actor and director, and to my mind he has equalled or surpassed his father's directing accomplishments, which I am sure made Carl very proud! Carl Reiner holds the unusual distinction of being the only person to appear on every version of The Tonight Show, and he made countless appearances. It is easy to see why, because he was an experienced performer who had an incredibly quick and sharp mind, which made him the ideal talk show guest! Reiner passed away in 2020 at the age of 98.
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