Most people in their 20s and 30s didn’t grow up on the works of Carl Reiner. A lot of his most well-known work came long before those individuals were alive. Still, Reiner’s name is one of the few instances of blind recognition; you likely know the name, but don’t know exactly why. His presence in Hollywood stretched decades and helped to define comedy in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Those monumental works he helped create like the Dick Van Dyke Show, The Jerk, and countless Mel Brooks classics. Those films and shows, while lost on audiences who never saw them still owe these works a great deal. Countless fans took to social media this morning as news that Carl Reiner, 89, passed away made the news.
Remembering Carl Reiner
Younger readers might be more familiar with the works of Carl’s son, Rob, who is just as impactful in Hollywood as his late father. Rob Reiner took to Twitter as news of his father’s death spread, stating “last night my dad passed away. As I write this my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.” For nearly two generations of Americans, Carl Reiner defined a huge portion of American entertainment. After taking free acting classes out of high school, Reiner began working on Sid Caesar projects like Your Show of Shows, which also boasted cast members like Mel Brooks, who would become a phenomenal partner to Reiner.
Reiner’s straight man routine to Mel Brooks’ eccentric, often enigmatic characters was a match made in heaven. Later, he went on to create one of the most celebrated and popular sitcoms of all time, the Dick Van Dyke Show. He began the project with himself in mind as the lead. He decided Van Dyke was a better fit and took on the occasional role of Alan Brady, a truly maniacal character that allowed the creator to flex his acting muscles.
A Legacy Unlike Any Other
It’s insane to think about the way we remember celebrities. As the audience, we know Carl Reiner for his work in TV and film. That leaves out so much of who a person is, including their personal life, their true interests, and their core character. When Joel Schumacher passed last week, a similar phenomenon occurred that often happens in these celebrity deaths. We learn so much about the person who passes from friends and family after we can appreciate them in life. A similar process will occur with Reiner, who had his hands on a number of famous actors’ careers over the years. All signs point to Reiner being a force of love and friendship through his entire life. For those who missed out on his directorial projects like The Jerk, Oh, God!, and The Man with Two Brains, I imagine they’ll climb the rental charts in the coming weeks.
A number of celebrities went on to remember Reiner as news spread across the internet. Steve Martin called Reiner his “greatest mentor in movies and in life,” and George Clooney who said that “Carl Reiner made every room he walked into funnier, smarter, kinder.”
Reiner died of natural causes at 98 years old in his Beverly Hills home. If you have a fond memory from one of Reiner’s works, then please share in the comments.
Featured Image by Louise Palanker via Flickr
Taylor loves to play video games in his spare time. He has two degrees in Political Communication and wrote his thesis on Marxism and the exploitation of college athletes. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his wife and two Toy Australian Shepherds. He’s always got headphones in, and he’s a diehard Cubs fan.