Carl Reiner Biography

(A Legend of American Comedy)

Birthday: March 20, 1922 (Pisces)

Born In: New York City, New York, United States

American actor, director, comedian, screenwriter, and author Carl Reiner is remembered for his illustrious career spanning 7 decades in the entertainment industry. After starting his performing career with the entertainment unit of the US Army, he wrote sketches and acted in TV shows such as Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour. Known for his comedy albums with Mel Brooks, he later created and produced shows such as The Dick Van Dyke Show. While he directed hit films such as Enter Laughing and Where’s Poppa?, he later formed a successful collaboration with Steve Martin to direct hits such as The Jerk. He had 11 Emmys and a Grammy under his belt and was also inducted into the 1999 Television Hall of Fame. He also appeared in movies such as the Oceans trilogy, voiced animated characters, and wrote several books, including his memoirs.

Quick Facts

Died At Age: 98


Spouse/Ex-: Estelle Reiner (m. 1943–2008)

father: Irving Reiner

mother: Bessie Mathias

children: Annie Reiner, Lucas Reiner, Rob Reiner

Born Country: United States

Actors Directors

Height: 6'2" (188 cm), 6'2" Males

Died on: June 29, 2020

place of death: Beverly Hills, California, United States

Cause of Death: Natural Cause

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: Georgetown University

Childhood & Early Life

Reiner was born on March 20, 1922, in The Bronx, New York, US. His father, Irving Reiner, was an Austrian watchmaker, while his mother, Bessie Reiner (née Mathias), was from Romania. Both his parents were Jewish immigrants.

He grew up with his older brother, Charles “Charlie” Reiner, who later served in the 9th Division in World War II. At age 16, Carl Reiner worked as a machinist and repaired sewing machines. During this time, he came to know about a free drama workshop funded by the Works Progress Administration and decided to switch careers. Nobody from his family was related to the entertainment world, except his uncle Harry Mathias.

In October 1942, he was drafted into the US Army and trained as a radio operator. In his initial days, he fell sick with pneumonia. Following this, he spent 10 months training as a French interpreter at Georgetown University.

In 1944, he finished a language training and moved to Hawaii, working as a teleprinter operator. There, he attended a Special Services entertainment unit production of Hamlet. He later auditioned for actor Major Maurice Evans to join the Special Services. Following this, he toured around the South Pacific as a comedian, entertaining troops. In 1946, Reiner was honorably discharged.

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As an Actor & Comedian

After working for an entertainment unit during World War II, Reiner made his Broadway debut with the musical hit Inside U.S.A. (1948-1949). Around the same time, Reiner also began his TV career with the 1948 series The Fashion Story and then appeared in the 1949 series The Fifty-Fourth Street Revue, both short-lived.

In 1950, he appeared in his next Broadway play, the musical revue Alive and Kicking, which was not much of a success. By 1953-1954, Reiner became a regular comedian in the series Your Show of Shows. While he also wrote for the show, his performance on the show won him 2 Emmy Awards.

From 1954 to 1957, Reiner appeared in and wrote for the sketch comedy program Caesar's Hour. He was also part of the comedy routine The 2000 Year Old Man, with Mel Brooks, which later inspired many recordings, such as the Grammy-winning The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000 (1997).

Reiner also created The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966), which was initially supposed to have him play a young comedy writer, Rob Petrie. However, he later produced, wrote, and appeared in it as a supporting actor. It starred Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. Reiner’s writing for the show won him 3 Emmys.

His guest appearance in the series Mad About You fetched him an Emmy. He has also appeared as Murray in The Cleveland Show and voiced Carl Reineroceros in the 2019 animated movie Toy Story 4.

The most notable of his movies were Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Ocean’s Twelve (2004), Ocean’s Thirteen (2007), collectively known as the Ocean’s trilogy, in which he appeared as Saul Bloom.

As a Director

Reiner made his directorial debut with the 1967 film Enter Laughing, which was adapted from his 1958 semiautobiographical novel and had also been made into a Broadway play (1963-1964). Around the same time, Reiner wrote and directed the Broadway production Something Different (1967).

He then worked on The Comic (1969), with Van Dyke. He also directed the 1970 black comedy Where’s Poppa?, starring George Segal and Ruth Gordon.

Reiner then moved back to TV, where he co-created and produced The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971-1974) and several other projects. He returned to Hollywood to direct the 1977 comedy Oh, God!, starring John Denver and George Burns, which turned out to be a blockbuster.

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The success of the comedy led to several sequels, though Reiner was not associated with any of them. In 1978, he directed The One and Only, starring Henry Winkler. The movie got a lukewarm response.

In 1979, Reiner directed one of the biggest hits of the year, The Jerk, the movie that catapulted its star, Steve Martin, to stardom. Years later, in 2000, the movie was placed at #89 on the AFI list of 100 Years…100 Laughs.

He later collaborated with Martin in several films, such as the 1982 black-and-white film-noir parody Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. The movie was a hit.

In 1983, Reiner directed the sci-fi comedy The Man with Two Brains, with Martin in it. His next and last film with Martin was the 1984 hit All of Me. Reiner also directed Summer Rental (1985) and Summer School (1987), followed by the 1989 musical comedy Bert Rigby, You’re a Fool.

In 1993, he directed Fatal Instinct, a parody of thrillers such as the 1992 hit Basic Instinct. Reiner’s last directorial effort was the 1997 comedy That Old Feeling.

Other Interests

Reiner had penned several books, including his 1958 autobiographical novel Enter Laughing and its 1995 sequel Continue Laughing. He also wrote the 2003 memoir My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir and a series of humorous memoirs titled I Remember Me (2012), I Just Remembered (2014), and What I Forgot to Remember (2015).

He had also penned several children's books based on the tales he would tell his grandson. He was also quite active on Twitter since July 2012. At 98, Reiner became the oldest celebrity on the platform.


In February 1960, he got a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California. He also won the 1980 Connor Award of the Phi Alpha Tau fraternity of Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.

He won a Grammy for the 1997 comedy album The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000. He was inducted into the 1999 Television Academy Hall of Fame. In 2000, he received the Mark Twain Prize for Comedy from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

In 2017, Reiner and his son Rob scripted history as the first father-and-son duo to get their handprints and footprints etched on concrete at Grauman's Chinese Theater. He had 11 Emmy Awards under his belt, including those for writing, acting, and producing.

Personal Life & Death

Reiner married singer and actor Estelle Lebost on December 24, 1943. They remained married for over 6 decades, till Lebost’s death on October 25, 2008.

They had 2 sons, Robert “Rob” (born on March 6, 1947) and Lucas (born on August 17, 1960), and a daughter, Sylvia Anne “Annie” (born on May 11, 1949). While Annie grew up to be a poet, author, and playwright, Rob became an actor/director and Lucas became a painter.

Carl Reiner was a Democrat, and in October 2018, he publicly criticized Donald Trump’s administration. From 1974 to 2001, Reiner funded the Carl Reiner Charity Celebrity Tennis Tournament in La Costa, California. Reiner died of natural causes on June 29, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California, at age 98.

Carl Reiner Movies

1. Ten from Your Show of Shows (1973)


2. It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)

  (Adventure, Action, Comedy, Crime)

3. Ocean's Eleven (2001)

  (Thriller, Crime)

4. The Jerk (1979)


5. The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! (1966)

  (Comedy, War)

6. The Thrill of It All (1963)

  (Romance, Comedy)

7. Generation (1969)


8. The Gazebo (1959)

  (Thriller, Crime, Comedy)

9. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)

  (Thriller, Crime, Comedy, Mystery)

10. A Guide for the Married Man (1967)

  (Comedy, Romance)


Primetime Emmy Awards
1995 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series Mad About You (1992)
1967 Outstanding Writing Achievement in Variety The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special (1967)
1966 Outstanding Comedy Series The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961)
1965 Outstanding Program Achievements in Entertainment The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961)
1964 Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy or Variety The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961)
1964 Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Comedy The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961)
1963 Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961)
1963 Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961)
1962 Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961)
1958 Best Continuing Supporting Performance by an Actor in a Dramatic or Comedy Series Caesar's Hour (1954)
1957 Best Supporting Performance by an Actor Caesar's Hour (1954)
Grammy Awards
1999 Best Spoken Comedy Album Winner

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