Carl Reiner’s legend began in the Bronx. Born to an artisan watchmaker, Irving, and housewife, Bessy, in 1920, young Reiner soon found his love of baseball changing to that of television. While attending high school, he began to come out of his shy shell. Being two grades higher than others his own age and from a family hit hard by the Great Depression, he looked to comedy to help connect with his peers. “I was very shy,” says Reiner. “And ever since the Depression I didn’t have nice clothes. I was too embarrassed to even tell people I was interested in acting.”
His brother, Charles, noticed that others around his brother were always laughing, so he persuaded Reiner to take a free acting class at Works Progress Administration Dramatics School. Always having a love for the theater, he balanced his job in the millinery trade with his new gig as a second tenor in an updated version of “The Merry Widow” for Paul Gilmore at the Daily Theater. Soon after, Reiner met the love of his life, a jazz vocalist named Estelle. They married in 1943 and were together until her death on October 25, 2008.
Reiner served in the military as a radio operator and a French translator during World War II. He also joined an entertainment unit and toured the Pacific performing for his fellow servicemen. After being honorably discharged, Reiner went to a resort in New Hampshire where he performed a stand-up act. He then toured with the national company for the Broadway show “Call Me Mister” and then made his Broadway debut in “Inside U.S.A.” and “Alive and Kicking”.
It was during this time that a writer by the name Max Liebman found him. Liebman enjoyed Reiner’s work and hired him on to co-write for “Your Show of Shows.” For the next ten years he wrote for “Your Show of Shows” before attempting to create a new show called “Head of the Family”. The pilot tanked leaving Reiner with many written but unaired episodes. Luckily for Reiner, his work was too good to stay down long and after a year floating around a producer named Sheldon Leonard came by and worked with Reiner to rework ”Head of the Family” into something else. They cast an unknown actor called Van Dyke who Reiner had seen in “Bye Bye Birdie” and, after getting the approval of Estelle to work Saturdays and Sundays, Reiner had a new hit show called the “Dick Van Dyke Show”.
The “Dick Van Dyke Show” ran for five seasons and won a plethora of Emmys during that time. With the end of the “Dick Van Dyke Show”, Reiner turned to Hollywood. He produced over fifteen movies, four of them co-produced with Steve Martin, and stared in over fifty movies, plays and television shows.; his big movies being “The Jerk”, “All of Me”, Where’s Poppa?” and “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid”.
Reiner’s career also spans into the literary world where he has released many books ranging from the silly, “Tell Me a Story”, “Tell Me a Scary Story…But Not Too Scary!” and “Tell Me Another Scary Story…But Not TOO Scary”, to the more serious, “My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir” and “I Remember Me”, as well as, many others.
Reiner’s long and groundbreaking life has been filled with numerous awards, including: twelve Emmys, a Grammy, induction into the Television Hall of Fame, the Mark Twain prize for American humor, and honorary membership in the Directors Guild of America. He is also the father of three wonderful children: Rob Reiner, a director, actor, writer and composer; Annie Reiner, a poet, painter, playwright and psychoanalyst; and Lucas Reiner, a painter, screenwriter and director.