Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Carl Reiner, R.I.P.

The obit just now in the New York Times for Carl Reiner details his many, many talents:  screenwriter, novelist, director, actor, comedian, political commentator, and probably a lot more.

What they don’t mention is what a great host Reiner could be.

As I wrote about here twelve years ago, I went to the memorial service for a guy I knew and liked, my writing professor Bill Idelson, only to discover that Carl Reiner would be the “emcee.” (Or whatever one calls someone who officiates a memorial service.) Of course it made sense in retrospect — Bill had been one of the writers on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” in addition to playing Herman Glimpsher, Rose Marie’s diminutive suitor on that show. (In an odd coincidence, about 20 years ago, I produced a play that featured Seemah Wilder, never realizing until he showed up that she was Bill Idelson’s wife. Yet another case of “everybody knows everybody.”) I wrote about Bill’s (highly entertaining) memorial service here.

In the years since, I’ve been following Carl Reiner on Twitter; he’s been amusing at times, and certainly life-affirming (he’s got a new book coming out, posthumously now, completed at age 98), and certainly livid about the current occupant of the White House.

But now I’m left wondering:  Who will they get to host Carl Reiner’s memorial service? Who could possibly live up to that standard? The only other Renaissance entertainer I can think of is Steve Martin.

2 Responses to “Carl Reiner, R.I.P.”

  1. Joe Stafford Says:

    You’re probably right, maybe Billy Crystal (?) there’s certainly no one his senior, except for the 2000 Year Old Man. I’ve watched It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966) about a dozen times each since they were released. The first time I saw Russians… I watched it three straight times in a row in an afternoon and early evening on the The old Steel Pier in Atlantic City, in 1967 back when one could do such things. Both movies are the kind of hilarious comedy that you only get out of the cold war 1960s Hollywood. But nothing can really match how funny Carl Reiner was in his role playing Alan Brady on the Dick Van Dyke show, when he would line up the mannequins bearing his toupees, And he would speak to them personally. He would talk to them in such away that you just could not deny the amount of thoughtful care he brought to what his character needed to do – especially since it appeared to be totally spontaneous improvisation. FYI I started watching The Dick Van Dyke Show on a B/W Philco in 1961.

  2. Dan Says:

    Oddly enough, I watched THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS last week, and was reminded all over again how much he & Steve Martin could get out of each .other

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