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June 30, 2020 9:24 am  #1

Comedy Legend Carl Reiner Dies At 98

It was, by any estimate, a very good run. Legendary comedy writer and performer Carl Reiner is gone, leaving only Dick van Dyke as the major star of his eponymous show still standing. He passed away from natural causes at 98.

What an amazing legacy he leaves behind - writer/performer on Your Show of Shows in the 50s, "interviewer" of the 2,000 year old man with Mel Brooks, countless movies and the crown jewel in his career, The Dick van Dyke Show, acknowledged by most critics to be one of the best comedies in TV history.

I've read several books about the show and in one of them, it's revealed that even though Reiner didn't have a commitment from any network for the sitcom, he went up to a small cabin in the woods with only some food and a typewriter and hammered out 13 scripts for a show he wasn't even sure he could sell.

In the pilot, called "Head of the Family," he played Rob Petrie, a comedy writer for a big network TV show, based on his time with Sid Caesar. In one of the most memorable rejections in television history, he was told the brass loved the show - but not him, insisting he simply wasn't qualified to play himself. The rest, as they say, is TV Emmy-winning history. (You can see that infamous pilot here, including the original actors who played Laura, Buddy and Sally, among others.)      

He eventually cast himself as Alan Brady, one of the meanest and most egotistical TV bosses in history. 

He's survived by three kids, including Rob Reiner, who later became an actor and a filmmaker in his own right. Pretty amazing life and I was a big fan. 

Carl Reiner, Comedy Legend and ‘Dick Van Dyke Show’ Creator, Dies at 98


June 30, 2020 9:26 am  #2

Re: Comedy Legend Carl Reiner Dies At 98

GEEZ! Doesn't anyone make it to 100 anymore?


June 30, 2020 9:31 am  #3

Re: Comedy Legend Carl Reiner Dies At 98

Where's George Burns when you need him?

     Thread Starter

June 30, 2020 10:31 am  #4

Re: Comedy Legend Carl Reiner Dies At 98

I interviewed George Burns in LA when he was 93.  When I got there, George was already sitting in his manager's office ready to go.  His manager introduced us, then left.  There was just he and I in the room.  I put the lav mic on George and got ready to record.  Just before my first question, another guy slipped through the door and sat at the far end of the room.  Didn't pay much attention, until George cracked his first joke.  This guy laughed and he laughed at everything else George said.  Then it hit me...comedians need an audience and this guy was George's audience..

Also met Carl Reiner in LA in 1986.  My friend John Candy was staying at the Westwood Marquis Hotel and I was there to work on scripts for a radio series John and I were doing.  John mentioned that Carl would be stopping by to talk about a possible movie project.  When he did, .John introduced me as also being from Toronto and Carl's face lit up.  He started effusing about how much he loved the Toronto Maple Leafs..and it took me a minute or two to figure out he was talking about the Maple Leafs baseball team, which ended in 1967.  He had followed them for decades.  Very sad day for the world.  We lost one of the funniest men ever..  .


June 30, 2020 10:54 am  #5

Re: Comedy Legend Carl Reiner Dies At 98

Wow. I envy you those experiences, especially with George Burns. As I've written here before, I consider The Burns And Allen TV Show the single greatest TV comedy ever made. Nothing can make me laugh like that one, and I've seen them all a hundred times. It was one of the most surreal shows ever put on television. Sad that it only airs now on Antenna TV, but black and white shows rarely get replayed anywhere else these days.

Fortunately most of them are on YouTube. 

Someone at our station also got the chance to interview George. At the time, I think he was in his late 80s, was hustling a book, and remained as sharp as a tack. I still remember his closing line when they asked about his longevity and how long he thought he might live. 

"When they cancel you in Vaudeville, they give you back your pictures," he recalled. "When the guy comes for me with the pictures, I'm not going to take them back!" 

By the way, have you ever seen the tombstone of another hero of mine, Mel Blanc? The engraving says exactly what you'd expect and it couldn't be more appropriate.

     Thread Starter

June 30, 2020 11:26 am  #6

Re: Comedy Legend Carl Reiner Dies At 98

John Candy and I used to try and find unique gifts to give each other.  One Christmas, I stood in line at an LA bookstore to get an autographed copy of a then new biography from Mick Fleetwood,  I'd also bought John a book of poems by Jimmy Stewart.  I called his office and asked if he'd sign it for John.  He said "sure" I bought another copy and took both books over and when I got there there, I asked if he'd sign my book as well.  Mr. Stewart says, "well of course.  Happy to". I'll never forget that.  Then I bought a coffee table book on Hanna-Barbara cartoon art.  I called the Hanna-Barbara office and asked if Mr. Hanna and Mr. Barbara would sign it for John .  They both said 'yes' so I sent it over by courier and got it back the next day.  Unbeknownst to me, John had picked up two copies of Mel Blanc's book "That's Not All Folks" and he went to Mel's office and asked Mel to autograph them.  He got one for him and one for me. 

Mel signed mine, "Eh, what's up Doug". 

Loved Mel Blanc.  Have all his Capitol albums and many of his radio series "Superfun".

Last edited by Doug Thompson (June 30, 2020 11:43 am)


June 30, 2020 6:23 pm  #7

Re: Comedy Legend Carl Reiner Dies At 98

 Doug some great stories about Carl Reiner, John Candy, Jimmy Stewart, and George Burns. I always thought Carl was brilliant in the 1966 movie The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming.  A great cast and very funny movie.  Carl played the ordinary suburban husband/father role perfectly in that movie. 

Carl Reiner was great as a guest on any talk show. Loved when he was on Letterman or Carson he would sometimes sing an Irish lullabye or jig and he was hilarious.  Saw him on Conan a few times and he was so sharp and plugged in.

It's great that you met all of these wonderful people Doug.  I still miss John Candy and was a big fan of his all through his SCTV years and into his movies. He always came across as a super nice person. 

Last edited by paterson1 (June 30, 2020 6:50 pm)


July 1, 2020 3:59 pm  #8

Re: Comedy Legend Carl Reiner Dies At 98

CBS to Air 2 Colorized Dick Van Dyke episodes featuring Carl Reiner,  this Friday.