Carl Reiner, a driving force in American comedy as a writer for television pioneer Sid Caesar, partner of Mel Brooks and creator and co-star of the classic sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, has died at age 98 of natural causes, his assistant said on Tuesday.
His career spanned seven decades and every medium from theater and recordings to television and movies, including directing Oh, God!, three collaborations with Steve Martin and a role as an elderly con man in the revived Ocean’s Eleven series.
Reiner passed away on Monday night at his home in Beverly Hills, his assistant Judy Nagy told Reuters on Tuesday.
He was still taking voice roles in his 90s and had a key role in If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast, a documentary about people who keep busy into their 90s.
Reiner is survived by three children, including Rob Reiner, director of several hit movies and known for playing Archie Bunker’s son-in-law 'Meathead' in the hit TV comedy All in the Family. Reiner’s wife of 64 years, Estelle, died in 2008.
Rob Reiner on Twitter mourned his father’s passing, saying, “As I write this my heart is hurting... He was my guiding light.”
His father was also active on Twitter. His final tweet on Monday was in praise of British playwright and composer Noel Coward, whom he lauded as “the single most prolific writer of musical comedies, plays, songs and films.”
Tributes to Reiner poured in from across the show business spectrum.
Comedian Sarah Silverman noted the comedy legend’s accomplishments as well as his generosity. “Never left his house empty handed - book, space pen, Swiss Army knife. RIP to a man that embodies the word mensch,” she wrote on Twitter.
Late-night comedy host Stephen Colbert simply tweeted “The Greatest” in a post accompanying a picture of Reiner as a young man.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also hailed the enduring comedy of the Empire State native, saying on Twitter, “He made America laugh — a true gift.”
Reiner expressed his approach to his work in his book My Anecdotal Life, when he said, “Inviting people to laugh at you while you are laughing at yourself is a good thing to do. You may be the fool but you are the fool in charge.”
Reiner, the Bronx-born son of a watchmaker, started in entertainment as a teenager in a touring theater troupe that performed Shakespearean plays. His career took a decisive turn after he joined the Army Signal Corps during World War Two.
Recruited into a special unit that put on shows for the troops, Reiner began writing and performing his own comedy material.
Reiner and Brooks remained close into their late 90s with Reiner telling USA Today in 2019 that they got together regularly to watch game shows and movies.
Brooks called him “a giant, unmatched in his contributions to entertainment,” in a tweet on Tuesday.
“A tired cliche in times like this. But in Carl Reiner’s case, it’s absolutely true. He will be greatly missed,” Brooks said.
But Reiner never strayed far from television, continuing to make guest appearances on various shows such as Two and a Half Men and Hot in Cleveland well into his 90s, as well as keeping up a busy Twitter account.
Reiner wrote four volumes of memoirs, including “I Just Remembered” in 2014, as well as children’s books.