Carl Reiner, Multifaceted Master of Comedy, Is Dead at 98


He had already appeared in a number of Hollywood movies by the time he and his family moved to Beverly Hills in the late 1960s, and he would continue to show up onscreen occasionally. But for the next three decades, most of his work in Hollywood was done behind the scenes.

Carl Reiner was born in the Bronx on March 20, 1922, to Irving Reiner, a watchmaker, and Bessie (Mathias) Reiner. After graduating from Evander Childs High School in the Bronx, he went to work as a machinist’s helper and seemed headed for a career repairing sewing machines.

Then one day his older brother, Charlie, mentioned seeing a newspaper article about a free acting class being given by the Works Progress Administration, the New Deal jobs agency. Carl tried his hand at acting, found he was good at it, hung up his machinist’s apron and joined a theater troupe. He also acted in summer stock.

During World War II, Mr. Reiner served in an Army entertainment unit that toured American bases in the South Pacific. After his discharge he joined the road company of the musical revue “Call Me Mister” as the comic lead, and within a year he was in the Broadway production.

In the 1949-50 television season he was a regular on “The Fifty-Fourth Street Revue,” a variety series, and in 1950 he was back on Broadway in “Alive and Kicking,” where he caught the eye of Max Liebman, the mastermind of “Your Show of Shows.”

Mr. Reiner married Estelle Lebost in 1943. She died in 2008.

In addition to his daughter, an author and psychoanalyst, he is survived by his sons, Rob, known for directing “When Harry Met Sally,” “A Few Good Men,” “This Is Spinal Tap” and numerous other films and for his role as Archie Bunker’s son-in-law on the groundbreaking sitcom “All in the Family,” and Lucas, a painter and filmmaker; and five grandchildren.

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