Remembering Carl Reiner's Incredible Life and Career in Photos
The beloved actor and writer died on June 29, 2020, at 98 years old
Born and raised in New York City, Carl Reiner was the son of two Jewish immigrants. Like his father, a watchmaker, Reiner had a knack for handy work. He worked as a sewing machine repairman until his older brother introduced him to the world of performing when he read in the New York Daily News. Reiner still credits his older brother for his sudden, but successful career change.
Best known for creating and starring in The Dick Van Dyke Show, Reiner got his start acting in Broadway musicals including Inside U.S.A. and he landed the lead role in Call Me Mister.
Reiner's big break came in 1950 when he was cast in Your Show of Shows appearing in comedy skits, working alongside writers Mel Brooks and Neil Simon.
Reiner and Brooks worked so well together that they decided to partner up as a comedy duo in The Steve Allen Show which gained so much popularity that the routine expanded into a series of five comedy albums and an animated TV special.
Reiner also made stars out of his leading cast in The Dick Van Dyke Show (his directorial debut) when the network preferred to keep him behind the camera rather than on screen.
Reiner was drafted in 1943, and spent much of his time entertaining the troops as part of Special Services.
"I was in Hawaii as a teletype operator. My friend was putting together shows for the troops. I could do good Shakespearean double-talk as a comedy tool. That got me in," he once told Moment magazine. "They traded me like a ball player. I got into Special Services and worked for the last year of my career in the Army as an entertainer."
He was honorably discharged in 1946.
Reiner was a 16-time Emmy nominee for writing, narrating and acting, winning nine statuettes throughout his career.
Reiner and Brooks also earned a Grammy in 2000 for their spoken comedy album, The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000.
Reiner had a fulfilling personal life as well. He married singer Estelle Lebost in 1943. They were married for 64 years, until her death in 2008.
His wife is also a rather recognizable face on the screen, but not for her volume of work, but rather her memorable one-liner. She delivered the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” line in the When Harry Met Sally deli scene.
The couple had three children: [director] Rob, Lucas, and Annie.
In 2000, Reiner was honored with the Mark Twain Prize in Washington, D.C. In a moving acceptance speech, he thanked fellow stars like Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore and Steve Martin for allowing him to "stand on their shoulders," and gave a shout-out to his wife and children. "I am also very thankful that I've lived the kind of a life that allows me to have a family like that and an evening like this," he said.
Following his father's passing, Rob wrote a heartfelt farewell on Twitter.
"Last night my dad passed away," he shared. "As I write this my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light."
One of Reiner's final on-screen appearances was on a 2012 episode of Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The pair ended up bringing a full deli meal to Mel Brooks' home, sharing jokes in the star's living room.
In the years before his death, Reiner was still acting on the big and small screen. And even at 98, he even kept up with the younger generations on social media as one of the oldest celebrities to have an active Twitter account.
Just this week, talent manager George Shapiro tweeted a photo of Reiner, his daughter, and Mel Brooks wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.
One day prior, Reiner tweeted, "Nothing pleases me more than knowing that I have lived the best life possible by having met & marrying the gifted Estelle (Stella) Lebost---who partnered with me in bringing Rob, Annie & Lucas Reiner into to this needy & evolving world."
Reiner died at home in Beverly Hills on June 29, 2020, of natural causes. He was 98 years old.