Obituary: Carl Reiner

I’m hoping this doesn’t become too regular a feature…

It seems that we are almost numb to death right now, what with the world in the grip of a worldwide pandemic that has claimed more than half a million lives, we are used to hearing a daily death toll on the news, so news of individual deaths sometimes slip through the cracks; this was the case with Joel Schumacher last week, and now with legendary writer and comedian Carl Reiner.

Reiner certainly lived a full life, he passed away two days ago at the grand old age of 98 and was one of the last few of his generations comedic greats. He was active right up until the end, last appearing in last year’s Toy Story 4 as a toy rhino, as well as being one of the oldest active Twitter users.

He came to prominence in the 1950s and 60s, writing and performing for shows such as Caeser’s Hour and The Dick Van Dyke Show, for which he was also the creator and producer.

He is, however, perhaps best known for his partnership with fellow comedic great Mel Brooks, their ‘2000 Year Old Man’ routines that saw Reiner play straight man to Brooks’ ridiculously old character are seminal works of absurd, wacky comedy, and the routine endured through forty years, seeing the last recorded release in 1997.

Off-screen, the two were just as close. The thing that always sticks in my mind about Brooks and Reiner is the friendship they had in their twilight years. After they both became widowers, the two would frequently visit each other and watch movies together, to ward off loneliness, a tremendously sad, yet simultaneously touching story.

Reiner’s legacy endures through his son, acclaimed director Rob Reiner (the man behind such works as Stand By Me and A Few Good Men) but Carl was no stranger to Hollywood either, as an actor (It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Ocean’s Eleven) or as a director (Where’s Poppa?, The Jerk) leaving behind a mountain of work that will stand as a testament to the brilliant comedic mind he possessed.

As a long-time Mel Brooks fan, the name Carl Reiner was unquestionably linked to Brooks’ and through his work with the mind behind The Producers and on his own, Reiner secured an unthinkable legacy, built on nearly seventy years of pushing the envelope and making us all laugh.

If laughter is your legacy, you’ve lived a good life.

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