Carl Reiner life and biography

Carl Reiner picture, image, poster

Carl Reiner biography

Date of birth : 1922-03-20
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Bronx, New York, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-09-07
Credited as : Actor and comedian, film director and producer, work in Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen

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Carl Reiner (born March 20, 1922) is an American actor, film director, producer, writer and comedian. He has won nine Emmy Awards and one Grammy Award during this career. He has the distinction of being the only person to appear on all five incarnations of The Tonight Show. He is well known for his work in the remake of Ocean's Eleven, and its two sequels, Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen.

Among the most influential comedic actors, writers, directors, and producers of his generation, Carl Reiner has been associated with many of the brightest lights in American comedy during the post-World War II era, including Mel Brooks, Dick Van Dyke, and Steve Martin.

Reiner was born in the Bronx on March 20, 1922. During the Great Depression he got his first taste of show business as a writer and actor in a dramatic workshop sponsored by the Works Projects Administration (WPA). He was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II, and further developed his performing abilities while acting in a South Pacific service troupe directed by Shakespearean actor Maurice Evans.

After the war, Reiner was part of the first generation of writer-performers on the new medium of television. In 1950 he was signed to write and co-star on NBC's variety series Your Show of Shows, starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. Reiner appeared on-screen, serving largely as a straight man to Caesar and Coca's antics. In the writer's room, Reiner worked alongside such greats as Neil Simon, Joe Stein, and a young, maniacal Mel Brooks. Brooks and Reiner developed a rapport for mad improvisation--Reiner would introduce Brooks as a Jewish pirate, for example, and Brooks would begin off-the-cuff dialogue. On one such occasion, Reiner asked Brooks about witnessing the Crucifixion. Brooks's persona became the genesis of the 2,000-Year Old-Man character. The pair developed the routine at show business parties during the 1950s, and on the advice of Steve Allen and George Burns, they recorded an album of the routine in 1960. It became a best-seller and spurred four more records.

Reiner wrote the critically acclaimed autobiographical novel Enter Laughing in 1958, which Joe Stein adapted into a hit Broadway play. Reiner realized that the story of his life--a young husband and father who wrote comedy--would also make a good TV situation comedy. The idea eventually became The Dick Van Dyke Show, which debuted in 1961 and ran for five seasons. The series was a beautiful combination of physical shtick, verbal jousting, and ensemble acting, and turned Van Dyke and co-star Mary Tyler Moore into TV superstars. Reiner eventually made guest appearances as Alan Brady, the demanding, vainglorious star for whom Van Dyke's character was writing.

During the 1960s and 1970s Reiner branched out as a successful film director. His 1969 movie, The Comic, starred Van Dyke as a silent screen comedian. Reiner's next film was the cult classic Where's Poppa? (1970), a blissfully off-color farce with something to offend everyone (the film ends with the middle-aged protagonist about to go to bed with his aged mother). He directed the 1977 surprise hit, Oh, God!, starring George Burns as the Almighty; the film was written by fellow Caesar alumnus Larry Gelbart, and its style echoed the 2,000-Year-Old Man routines.

Reiner found his ideal film collaborator in stand-up phenomenon Steve Martin. Reiner directed Martin's first starring role, The Jerk (1979), which grossed well over $100 million. Reiner and Martin teamed up three more times, most famously on the 1984 hit, All of Me (co-starring Lily Tomlin).

By the 1990s, Reiner was an elder statesman in the comedy field. He reprised his Alan Brady character (and won an Emmy) in a 1995 episode of the popular Mad About You sitcom. In 1998 he and Brooks recorded their first 2,000-Year-Old Man album in a quarter century, for which the pair won a long overdue Grammy. "Thirty-nine years ago we were nominated for a Grammy, and lost," Reiner said in his acceptance speech. "We can't wait another 39 years!"

Reiner married singer Estelle Lebost in 1944, and they have three children. The eldest is actor/director Rob Reiner, known for such films as This Is Spinal Tap and A Few Good Men. Estelle is probably best remembered for her one line--"I'll have what she's having"--in the deli scene in son Rob's 1989 hit, When Harry Met Sally.


Born March 20, 1922, in New York, NY; son of Irving and Bessie Reiner; married Estelle Lebost, December 24, 1943; children: Robert, Sylvia Anne (Annie), Lucas. Education: Attended the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, 1943. Military/Wartime Service: U.S. Army, 1942-46. Memberships: Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Writers Guild, Dramatists Guild, Directors Guild.


Twelve Emmy Awards, including for best supporting actor in a comedy series, 1957, for Caesar's Hour, and 1958, for Sid Caesar Invites You, outstanding writing achievement in comedy, 1962, 1963, and 1964, and outstanding program achievement in entertainment, 1965, all for The Dick Van Dyke Show, outstanding writing achievement in a variety show, 1967, for The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special, best guest actor in a comedy series, 1995, for Mad about You; Grammy Award nomination, 1960, for 2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks; Grammy Award for The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000; elected to Emmy Award Hall of Fame; Grammy nomination for best spoken word album for Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings from Mark Twain, 2001; Mark Twain Prize, for comedy, Kennedy Center.


Actor, writer, director, and producer. Enrolled in the Works Progress Administration's Dramatic Workshop in the 1930s; performed in Major Maurice Evans' acting troupe in the South Pacific during World War II; stage actor, debuted in Call Me Mister, 1947; television writer and producer, 1949--, including Your Show of Shows, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1950-54; The Dick Van Dyke Show, 1961-66, The New Dick Van Dyke Show, 1973, and Heaven Help Us, 1976; television actor, including appearances on Your Show of Shows, 1950, Caesar's Hour, 1950-54, Sid Caaesar Invites You, 1958, The Dick Van Dyke Show, 1961-66, The Dinah Shore Show, 1963, The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited, 2004, and numerous others; film actor, including appearances in Happy Anniversary, 1959, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, 1963, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, 1966, Generation, 1969, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, 1982, Ocean's Eleven, 2001, and Ocean's Thirteen; creator of television programs, including Head of the Family, 1960, The Dick Van Dyke Show, 1961-66, Starring: Nancy Clancy, 1973, and The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited, 2004; film producer, including Enter Laughing, 1967, and The Comic, 1969; film director, including Oh God!, 1977, The Jerk, 1979, All of Me, 1984, Summer School, 1987, Bert Rigby, You're a Fool, 1989, Sibling Rivalry, 1990, Fatal Instinct, 1993, and That Old Feeling, 1997; stage director, including The Roast, 1980, and Something Different, 1983.


* Sid Caesar Invites You, ABC-TV, 1958.
* A Child's Guide to Screenwriting, 1964.
* Salute to Stan Laurel, 1965.
* The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special, NBC-TV, 1967.
* The 2000 Year Old Man, 1975.
* The Alan Brady Show, 2003.

Also contributor of scripts and script material to television shows including The Comedy Spot, 1960, Free to Be ... You and Me, 1974.


* The Thrill of It All, Universal, 1963.
* The Art of Love, Universal, 1965.
* (With Joseph Stein) Enter Laughing (adaptation of Reiner's novel; also see below), Columbia, 1967.
* (With Aaron Ruben) The Comic, Columbia, 1968.
* (With Steve Martin and George Gipe) Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, Universal, 1982.
* (With Steve Martin and George Gipe) The Man with Two Brains, Warner Bros., 1983.
* Bert Rigby, You're a Fool, 1989.


* Something Different (produced on Broadway, 1967), Samuel French, 1967.


* Enter Laughing (semi-autobiographical novel), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1958.
* All Kinds of Love (novel), Carol Publishing (Secaucus, NJ), 1993.
* Continue Laughing (novel), Carol Publishing (Secaucus, NJ), 1995.
* (With Mel Brooks) The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000: The Book, Cliff Street (New York, NY), 1997.
* How Paul Robeson Saved My Life and Other Mostly Happy Stories, Cliff Street (New York, NY), 1999.
* Tell Me a Scary Story--But Not Too Scary! (juvenile), Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2003.
* (With Mel Brooks) The 2000 Year Old Man Goes to School (juvenile; with sound disc), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
* NNNNN (novel), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.


* My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Also actor-model and/or author of A Saw Screams at Midnight, 1956, Broadway, and short stories. A transcription of the recording The 2000 Year Old Man (also see below), was published by Warner Books, 1981.

Author of scripts for recordings, including Hey That's Funny, Rhino (Burbank, CA), 2004, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, The 2000 Year Old Man, The 2001 Year Old Man, At the Cannes Film Festival, The 2013 Year Old Man, and The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000. A set of lectures by Reiner was published on microfiche as Carl Reiner: An American Film Institute Seminar on His Work, Microfilming Corporation of America, 1977.

Enter Laughing was adapted for the stage by Joseph Stein.

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