NEW YORK – Carl Reiner, the ingenious and versatile writer, actor and director who broke through as a “second banana” to Sid Caesar and rose to comedy’s front ranks as creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and straight man to Mel Brooks’ “2000 Year Old Man,” has died. He was 98.
Reiner’s assistant Judy Nagy said he died Monday night of natural causes at his home in Beverly Hills, California.
Reiner was the father of actor-director Rob Reiner, who tweeted that his “heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.” The younger Reiner starred as Archie Bunker’s son-in-law on “All in the Family” and directed “When Harry Met Sally...”
Carl Reiner was one of show business’ best-liked men. Bald or toupeed, his was a welcome face on the small and silver screens: In Caesar’s 1950s troupe; as the self-absorbed Alan Brady of “The Dick Van Dyke Show”; and in such films as “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming” and “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”
In recent years, he was part of the roguish gang in the “Ocean’s Eleven” movies starring George Clooney and appeared in documentaries including “Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age” and “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast.”
Tributes poured in, with Van Dyke calling Reiner “kind, gentle, compassionate, empathetic and wise,” and Clooney saying he made “every room he walked into funnier, smarter, kinder.”
Betty White described herself as privileged to work with Reiner and “heartbroken.” Steve Martin said goodbye to “my greatest mentor in movies and in life. Thank you, dear Carl.” Billy Crystal said “all of us in comedy have lost a giant,” and Sarah Silverman said ”his humanity was beyond compare.”
Brooks said he and Reiner had been best friends since meeting on “Your Show of Shows."