Carl Reiner is an American actor, film director, producer, writer and comedian. He has won nine Emmy Awards and one Grammy Award during his career.
Reiner was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of Bessie (née Mathias) and Irving Reiner, who was a watchmaker. His parents were Jewish immigrants, his father from Romania and his mother from Austria. When he was sixteen, his older brother Charlie read in the New York Daily News about a free dramatic workshop being put on by the Works Progress Administration and told him about it. He had been working as a machinist fixing sewing machines. He credits Charlie with changing his career plans.
Reiner is the author of several books, including his 2004 memoir, My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir, and novels such as 2006’s NNNNN: A Novel. In American Film, Reiner expressed his philosophy on writing comedy: “You have to imagine yourself as not somebody very special but somebody very ordinary. If you imagine yourself as somebody really normal and if it makes you laugh, it’s going to make everybody laugh. If you think of yourself as something very special, you’ll end up a pedant and a bore. If you start thinking about what’s funny, you won’t be funny, actually. It’s like walking. How do you walk? If you start thinking about it, you’ll trip.”
In May 2009, Reiner guest starred as a clinic patient on the season finale of the Fox series House. He also lent his voice to the character of Santa Claus in the NBC Christmas special Merry Madagascar in November 2009, and reprised his role as Santa in The Penguins of Madagascar holiday special “The All Nighter Before Christmas. In December 2009, Reiner guest-starred as a television prodcuer on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men. In June 2010, Reiner guest starred in TV Land’s new series “Hot in Cleveland” as Elka Ostrovsky’s date and reprised the role in July 2010. Reiner also made appearances on The Cleveland Show as Murray and wrote the story for the episode “Your Show of Shows”, named after the program that started his career.
Reiner has the distinction of being the only person to appear on The Tonight Show with each of its five hosts.
On December 24, 1943, Reiner married singer Estelle Lebost. The two were married 64 years until her death in 2008. At the time of the marriage, he was 21 and she was 29. Estelle is probably best remembered for her line “I’ll have what she’s having” in the deli scene of their son Rob’s 1989 film When Harry Met Sally. She died on October 25, 2008, at age 94.
Reiner is the father of actor-turned-director Rob Reiner (b. 1947), poet, playwright and author Sylvia Anne (Annie) Reiner (b. 1957), and painter, actor, and director Lucas Reiner (b. 1960).
Reiner, who is Jewish, has described himself as a Jewish atheist. He says, “I have a very different take on who God is. Man invented God because he needed him. God is us.”