Chicago Sun-Times

CARL REINER, TV PI­O­NEER TURNED AMER­ICA’S GRANDPA, DEAD AT 98

- RICHARD ROEPER MOVIE COLUM­NIST rroeper@sun­times.com | @RichardERo­eper Entertainment · Celebrities · Carl Reiner · United States of America · Beverly · Dick Van Dyke · Anthony van Dyck · Larry Sanders · 30 Rockefeller Plaza · Toy Story 4 · Toy Story · Family Guy · Twitter · Donald Trump · Estelle · Jerry Seinfeld · Jerry Seinfeld · Don Cheadle · Brad Pitt · Pioneer · Beverly Hills · Mary Tyler Moore · Mel Brooks · Rob Reiner · Young Frankenstein · Casey Affleck · Matt Damon

Carl Reiner was Amer­ica’s Grandpa. Amer­ica’s hi­lar­i­ous, pi­o­neer­ing, bril­liant, lovely, kind and won­der­ful grandpa.

Mr. Reiner, who died Mon­day night at the age of 98 in his Bev­erly Hills home, was a co­me­dian, an ac­tor, a di­rec­tor, a writer and a men­tor to gen­er­a­tions of young tal­ents. He was one of the found­ing fathers of Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion, from his writing and per­form­ing on the ground­break­ing “Your Show of Shows” in the early 1950s to his cre­ation of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” which set the tone for so many TV-pro­grams-about-TV-pro­grams, from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to “Mur­phy Brown” to “The Larry San­ders Show” to “30 Rock.”

As a com­mer­cial film­maker with a light and sure comedic touch, Reiner helmed hits such as “Oh, God” (1977), “The Jerk” (1979) and “All of Me” (1984). He was a bril­liant pres­ence in the “Ocean’s Eleven” tril­ogy and lent his warm and friendly voice to films such as “Toy Story 4” and TV shows such as “Fam­ily Guy” and “Amer­i­can Dad.”

The man who emerged as a show busi­ness pres­ence in an era when there were 48 states and most fam­i­lies could only dream about own­ing a tele­vi­sion went on to embrace 21st cen­tury tech­nol­ogy. Reiner was an ac­tive and lively pres­ence on so­cial me­dia un­til the last day of his life, post­ing thou­sands of mes­sages to his 367,000-plus fol­low­ers on a Twit­ter ac­count he started in 2012 to keep up with his grand­son Jake.

Just three days ago, Reiner’s tal­ent agent, Ge­orge Shapiro, tweeted a photo of Reiner, long­time friend Mel Brooks and Reiner’s daugh­ter An­nie all wear­ing “BLACK LIVES MAT­TER” T-shirts along with the cap­tion, “My Heroes.”

A trib­ute in Va­ri­ety fea­tured some of Reiner’s most mem­o­rable tweets, which were of­ten tar­geted at Pres­i­dent Trump, e.g., “En­joyed eat­ing break­fast but not nearly as much as read­ing your re­ac­tions to my Thurs­day Tweet that had master gram­mar­ian Don­ald Trump ex­cited about our cit­i­zens urg­ing him to ‘RE­SIGN’ as pres­i­dent, when they were ac­tu­ally urg­ing him to ‘RE­SIGN!’ ” In a more per­sonal Tweet, Mr. Reiner mused, “Is it be­cause I’m Jewish I feel guilty if I don’t come up with a daily tweet? Do Gen­tiles have sim­i­lar guilt about their Twit­ter ne­glect.”

Clas­sic Amer­i­can Grandpa.

In a Tues­day morn­ing tweet, Mr. Reiner’s son, the ac­tor-film­maker-ac­tivist Rob Reiner, wrote: “Last night my dad passed away. As I write this my heart is hurt­ing. He was my guid­ing light.”

(Mr. Reiner’s wife, Estelle, whom he mar­ried in 1943, died in 2008. She de­liv­ered one of the most fa­mous one-lin­ers in movie history as the woman in the deli who said, “I’ll have what she’s hav­ing,” in Rob Reiner’s “When Harry Met Sally…”)

One of my fa­vorite episodes in Jerry Se­in­feld’s “Co­me­di­ans in Cars Get­ting Cof­fee” fea­tures Se­in­feld, Reiner and Mel Brooks pre­par­ing and en­joy­ing a meal at Reiner’s home, which fea­tures twin TV tray ta­bles for the old-time leg­ends. Brooks (wear­ing a “Young Franken­stein” hoodie) spoons his soup and tells one of the old­est jokes ever (the punch­line is, “I make a liv­ing”), and the boys have a meal of sand­wiches and beer as Carl put­ters about the liv­ing room be­fore set­tling into his comfy chair, tuck­ing his nap­kin into his col­lar be­cause that’s what you do when you’re in your 90s. Se­in­feld is in his glory, and we vi­car­i­ously share that feel­ing.

And then there’s that fi­nale in “Ocean’s Eleven,” when the gang gath­ers at the Bel­la­gio Foun­tain and the cam­era pans across the faces of rel­a­tively young ac­tors such as Casey Af­fleck, Don Chea­dle, Matt Da­mon and Brad Pitt — and there’s Carl Reiner, a sprightly 79 at the time, sport­ing the kind of fish­ing hat that only works when you’re that age, and he gives a lit­tle nod to Pitt, and one by one the team ex­its, un­til it’s just Mr. Reiner, who fi­nally walks away just be­fore the Bel­la­gio foun­tain water­works be­gin.

We were so lucky to have him for nearly two more decades af­ter that.

 ??  ??
 ?? AP FILES ?? Carl Reiner in 2003.
AP FILES Carl Reiner in 2003.
 ?? SUN-TIMES FILES ?? Carl Reiner (top) worked with (clock­wise from right) Howard Mor­ris, Imo­gene Coca and Sid Cae­sar on “Your Show of Shows.”
SUN-TIMES FILES Carl Reiner (top) worked with (clock­wise from right) Howard Mor­ris, Imo­gene Coca and Sid Cae­sar on “Your Show of Shows.”
 ?? WARNER BROS. ?? Andy Gar­cia and Carl Reiner in “Ocean’s Eleven.”
WARNER BROS. Andy Gar­cia and Carl Reiner in “Ocean’s Eleven.”
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