I was very sorry to read that Carl Reiner passed away last night. And very glad that he lived to the age of 98. And a fairly active 98, as well, with a book published last year and regular tweets on social media.
I won't recap his enire career, since that's much too long and has been well-documented in all the articles about him today. (I was going to post a nice photo of him, but when I came across this above, I didn't see how I could not use it, even if it only hints at him creating The Dick Van Dyke Show and doesn't even touch on his illustrious film career, writing Enter Laughing based on his semi-autobiographical novel and The Comic that reteamed with him Dick Van Dyke, directing Oh, God; The Jerk and All of Me, and acting, in among other things the Ocean's 11 films and starring in The Russians are Coming...The Russians are Coming -- something whose irony from his very public hatred of Trump must have struck him.) But I'm very glad that I had recently finished watching a boxed-DVD set of the best of Sid Caesar, whose series Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour brought Carl Reiner to fame as a performer, as well as a a writer.
I got to see Reiner live on stage from about 25 years ago when the Writers Guild held an event of "Caeser's Writers" -- which remains one of the funniest evenings I've had in the theater. Just a panel discussion, but what a panel. In addition to Carl Reiner, there was Sid Caesar, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon Larry Gelbart and lesser-names but equal talents. Not present, but I believe he attended a similar New York event, was Woody Allen. That's quite a staff. And quite an event. While there was a moderator, Reiner's stature -- even among that group -- allowed him to act as a sort of train conductor to coral the other writers, though lion tamer might have been more apt. especially for Mel Brooks with whom Reiner had a long professional association with the "2,000 Year-Old Man" and an even longer friendship.
(That's Reiner's daughter Annie in between him and Brooks. The photo was taken two days ago.)
I was going to say that I didn't have any stories from crossing paths with Carl Reiner ...but then I remembered that I did, although we didn't talk.
In late-2005, during "awards season," I went to a small Academy screening of Hustle & Flow, the film that won a Best Song Oscar for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp."). It was held in a screening room that could seat about 70 people. Only a handful of us were there early, when I noticed by the door that Carl Reiner had showed up to check in. What stood out was that the young guard checking in guests had no idea who Carl Reiner was and had to ask his name and slowly go through the list of names. Through the slow process Reiner was incredibly polite, with no whiff at all of "How dare you!" petulance for not being recognized and having to wait. However, the few of us in the screening room saw all this and burst into laughter. When Reiner finally get OK'd for being on the list and walked in, those few of us gave him our "thumbs up" for getting approved, and he just graciously and sort of sheepishly shrugged. Mainly, I admired that Carl Reiner -- then 84 -- went to Hustle & Flow .
I did get to meet with his son. I only mention that because the two were very close, and I sense that Rob Reiner got his core and compass very strongly from his parents. It was when Reiner and his partner were looking to hire a story editor. I eventually got called in to meet with him, and we spent an hour talking. He came across as extremely personable, a highly-focused and smart, fun guy who was a terrific storyteller. Which, again -- from all I know about them, and to bring the story back full circle -- I have always sensed he got from his mother and father.
(Quickly, to finish the tale, in the end the partners felt their two-man operation was too small -- their Castle Rock company was still a few years away -- and so they didn't hire anybody.)
There's so much video to choose from to show for Carl Reiner, but I don't think you can go with anything first other than him with Mel Brooks as the "2,000 Year-Old Man." So, here they are in 1966 on the Hollywood Palace, hosted by Phil Silvers.
And as a bonus, because this is Carl Reiner, after all, so why limit ourselves to just one video, here he is as the host on the classic parody from Your Show of Shows of the TV program This is Your Life.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor