Carl Reiner, 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' Creator and Hollywood Legend, Dead at 98

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Carl Reiner, the award-winning actor, director, producer and writer known for creating The Dick Van Dyke Show, has died, confirmed his son, Rob Reiner. He was 98. 

"Last night my dad passed away. As I write this my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light," Rob Reiner tweeted on Tuesday morning. 

Reiner's assistant, Judy Nagy, also released a statement to ET. "Carl Reiner passed away last night (Monday) at the age of 98 of natural causes, at his home in Beverly Hills. He is survived by his three children, Rob, Annie and Lucas, and five grandchildren."

 

Even in his 90s, Reiner was as sharp as ever, and used his platform to bring attention to political issues such as immigration, voter registration, and speaking out against President Donald Trump. Reiner’s “personal goal” was to live until the 2020 November election. “To make sure we have a decent, moral, law-abiding citizen in Washington who will make us all proud again to live in America," he said.

With a vibrant career that spanned more than 60 years, the energetic Reiner directed dozens of films and TV shows, and made friends in fellow Hollywood legends and co-stars like Mel Brooks, Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, and Betty White.

Reiner’s big break came by way of the Emmy-winning CBS sitcom, TheDick Van Dyke Show. In 1959, Reiner pitched Head of the Family, an autobiographical sitcom pilot in which he starred. The concept was retooled and recast with Van Dyke and Moore and renamed, The Dick Van Dyke. Reiner directed and produced the show in addition to portraying the character Alan Brady.

"I’m often asked, 'What is my favorite thing I’ve ever done creatively' -- I’ll say, hands down, The Dick Van Dyke Show," Reiner told ETonline in 2014. "There’s no question about it, best years of my life. I worked there five years and it was a labor of love."

Born on March 20, 1922, in the Bronx, New York, Reiner was the son of Jewish immigrants, one of whom was an inventor. Reiner began studying acting in high school and landed his first directing job while serving in an entertainment unit of the Air Force during World War II. In 1943, Reiner married actress Estelle Lebost (who delivered the infamous “I’ll have what she’s having” line in When Harry Met Sally) with whom he welcomed three children, director Rob Reiner, author Annie Reiner, and artist Lucas Reiner. The couple were married for 64 years until Lebost’s death in 2008.

Lebost was by Reiner's side as a he built what would become a legendary Hollywood life. After being discharged from the service in 1946, Reiner performed on Broadway before landing on the variety series, Your Show of Shows, alongside Brooks and Neil Simon, and Ceasar's Hour, as a writer and actor. 

Reiner and Brooks went on to create the 2000 Year Old Man sketch comedy act with Brooks that expanded into a GRAMMY-winning comedy album series, and animated TV special. 

In 1967, Reiner made his film directorial debut with the autobiographical comedy, Enter Laughing. He went on to direct a slate of comedies including Where’s Poppa!Oh God!Sibling Rivalry and Fatal Instinct. Reiner also directed Steve Martin in The Jerk, which helped launch Martin’s career, along with Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Man with Two Brains, and more. Reiner maintained a busy work schedule until the end of his life. His later acting jobs included co-starring in three of the films from the Ocean's Eleven series and voicing a character in Toy Story 4

Reiner also made guest appearances in the likes of Frasier, Mad About You, House, SeinfeldKing of the Hill, The Cleveland ShowAlly McBeal, The Bernie Mac Show, American Dad, Bob’s Burgers and Family Guy, among other hits shows. 

Reiner is survived by three children, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren. 

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