Carl Reiner, legendary comedian who created 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' dies at age 98

By Zach Harper

Carl Reiner, the legendary comedian known for creating The Dyke Van Dyke Show and for his work with fellow funnymen Mel Brooks and Neil Simon passed away on June 29 at age 98 from natural causes.

"Last night my dad passed away," actor Rob Reiner, Carl's son, tweeted on June 30. "As I write this, my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light."

Carl was born in New York City in 1922 to Jewish immigrants from Austria and Romania. His father was a watchmaker, and one of Carl's first jobs was sewing machine repair. When he was 16, he first got interested in acting and comedy, but World War II caused an interruption in that when he was drafted into the Air Army Forces.

During that time, he translated one of legendary French dramatist Molière's plays due to his stunning skills as a linguist. Upon relocation to Hawaii, he continued to work in the Special Services' entertainment unit, performing plays such as Hamlet in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan, Tinian and the Japanese island of Iwo Jima until he was discharged in 1946.

Carl is survived by Rob and his two other children, playwright and author Annie Reiner and artist, actor and director Lucas Reiner. He married their mother, Estelle Lebost, in 1943. She passed on in 2008 at age 94 and was famous in her own right as an actress, especially for her role in Rob's classic film When Harry Met Sally. Like Carl, she also extensively worked with Mel.

After the War, Carl moved on to Broadway and began performing in musicals, eventually scoring the lead on Arnold Auerbach's Call Me Mister. He met Mel Brooks and Neil Simon in 1950 when he was cast in Your Show of Shows and the trio worked on sketches together.

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner ham it up on a piano in 1997. Photo: © Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images

Carl and Mel eventually decided to work together more extensively as a duo, going on to create The Steve Allen Show. The enormous success of that led to Carl creating The Dick Van Dyke Show, helping make its eponymous star and Mary Tyler Moore household names. The show won a whopping 15 Emmys from 1961-1966.

Carl (right) with (L-R) Richard Deacon, Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke and Sheldon Leonard at the 1964 Emmy Awards. Photo: © Gene Lester/Archive Photos/Getty Images

"I always knew if I threw a question to Mel, he could come up with something," Carl once said, according to The New York Times. "I learned a long time ago that if you can corner a genius comedy brain in panic, you're going to get something extraordinary."

Carl was also known for his acting, getting attention for appearing in The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming.

In the '60s and '70s, Carl continued to work with budding Hollywood stars, making them internationally famous. One of these people was Steve Martin, who starred in 1979's The Jerk, which Carl directed and co-wrote, along with three other films. His influence can still be seen today in the comedy of the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman and Ray Romano.

"Carl Reiner came into the mix and gave it heart and gave it shape and we became very, very close friends," Steve told an audience at the American Film Institute in 2009 as The Jerk turned 30. "He was like a father to me – although I wouldn't let him bathe me like he wanted to."

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