TV pioneer Carl Reiner dies at age 98

Image Michael Buckner  Variety  Shutterstock

"As I write this my heart is hurting".

Besides helping transform its creator and star into household names, "The Dick Van Dyke Show" launched the career of Mary Tyler Moore, who played Rob Petrie's wife.

Mel Brooks paid tribute to his good friend and fellow comedy legend Carl Reiner, who passed away Monday at age 98.

Reiner is survived by three children, including Rob Reiner, director of several hit movies and known for playing Archie Bunker's son-in-law "Meathead" in the hit TV comedy "All in the Family". He was known for his work in Caesar's 1950s troupe, as the snarling, toupée-wearing Alan Brady of The Dick Van Dyke Show and in such films as The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. "He was my guiding light", Reiner's actor-filmmaker son Rob Reiner tweeted. After joining the service's performing unit, Reiner broke into showbiz after hostilities finished, landing a spot on Your Show of Shows in 1950, where he would collaborate with the likes of Brooks and Neil Simon.

Reiner began his career as a performer on Broadway before transitioning into television on Sid Caesar's variety program Your Show of Shows.

"When we were doing "The 2000 Year Old Man" together there was no better straight man in the world", Brooks said.

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As a result of its success, Reiner moved into feature-film-making: his directorial debut was Enter Laughing in 1967, adapted from his own autobiography about a Jewish kid trying to break into showbusiness.

The late star directed more than a dozen films during his career, including "Oh God", starring George Burns; "The Jerk", with Steve Martin; "Sibling Rivalry", starring Kirstie Alley and Carrie Fisher; and "That Old Feeling" with Bette Midler. He recounted his childhood and creative journey in the 2013 book, I Remember Me.

Bernadette Peters, who starred in Reiner's 1979 screwball comedy The Jerk with Martin, said, "Dearest Carl this was your last tweet always always caring til the end".

In 2001 Reiner nabbed arguably his most popular acting role as one of the titular Ocean's Eleven in Steven Soderbergh's 2001 smash, portraying the elder con man Saul Bloom, a role intended for his old pal Alan Arkin. Reiner has also appeared in many famous television shows over the decades, including Night Gallery, Frasier, The Bernie Mac Show, Hot in Cleveland, and Two and a Half Men.

He has also been awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and won a Grammy for the comedy album The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000.

"Carl Reiner, Bronx born and bred, made TV comedy that endures to this day". Associated Press contributed to the report.

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