October 1, 2009 Comedy Icon Carl Reiner to Speak at Books & Beyond Event at Library of Congress
Press Contact: Jennifer Gavin, Library of Congress, (202) 707-1940
Carl Reiner, a giant of American comedy for nearly six decades, will speak at the Library of Congress at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, October 26 as part of the Books & Beyond author series sponsored by the Library’s Center for the Book. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be in the Montpelier Room of the Library’s James Madison Building at 101 Independence Ave. S.E. in Washington (doors will open at 12:30 p.m.) Following his talk, Reiner will sign his recently published book “Just Desserts” as well as his children’s book “Tell Me a Scary Story, But Not TOO Scary” beginning at 2 p.m.
Reiner has been a major figure in U.S. comedy since the early days of television, when he wrote and performed skits for comedian Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows.” He created and co-starred in “The Dick Van Dyke Show” in the 1960s, had a great hit with fellow comedian Mel Brooks with “The 2000 Year Old Man” record albums and played a key role in comedian Steve Martin’s early film career. A longtime film director, he is perhaps better known to moviegoers in recent years as an actor – a member of the wily heist team in the “Ocean’s Eleven” series of films.
Winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2000, Reiner was born in the Bronx in 1922. When he was 16, he worked as a machinist while taking drama classes and landed a role as a second tenor in an updated version of “The Merry Widow.”
In World War II, Reiner trained as a radio operator in the Air Force and was later assigned to Georgetown University to study French so he could become an interpreter; he also worked as a teletype operator in the Signal Corps and later served as a comedian and actor with Maurice Evans’ Special Services Entertainment Unit. Reiner toured the Pacific for 18 months in G.I. revues. Following his honorable discharge in 1946, Reiner won the lead in the national company production of “Call Me Mister,” and in 1950 he joined Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca on television’s “Your Show of Shows.”
Reiner published his first novel, “Enter Laughing,” in 1958 – an autobiographical work later made into a Broadway play and a feature film. Reiner directed and co-produced the film.
In 1961 he conceived “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” in which he played the toupee-wearing producer Alan Brady. Also in 1961, Reiner wrote the screenplay for the movie “The Thrill of It All,” starring Doris Day and James Garner.
In 1966, Reiner starred in the film “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.” He also had featured or cameo roles in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” “The Gazebo,” “Generation,” “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” “The End” and “The Slums of Beverly Hills.”
Movies he has directed include “The Comic,” which he co-wrote with Aaron Ruben; “Where’s Poppa?” starring George Segal and Ruth Gordon; and “Oh, God!” starring George Burns. Reiner also was instrumental in the career of comedian Steve Martin, as Reiner directed and co-wrote Martin’s movies “The Jerk,” “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” “The Man with Two Brains” and “All of Me.” He also directed “Summer Rental” with John Candy; “The One and Only” with Henry Winkler; “Summer School” with Mark Harmon; “Bert Rigby, You’re a Fool,” which he also wrote; “Sibling Rivalry” with Kirstie Alley; “Fatal Instinct” with Armand Assante and Kate Nelligan, and “That Old Feeling” with Bette Midler and Dennis Farina.
More recently, Reiner has played a continuing character in a trio of Stephen Soderberg films (“Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Ocean’s Thirteen”) and has had roles in the television shows “Beggars and Choosers,” “Family Law,” “The Bernie Mack Show,” “Crossing Jordan,” “The Bonnie Hunt Show” and “Boston Legal.” He has also done animation voicing for the TV show “Father of the Pride.”
His other publications include “All Kinds of Love” (1993), “Continue Laughing,” (1995), “NNNNN” (2006), “How Paul Robeson Saved My Life” a book of short stories (1999), “My Anecdotal Life” (2003) and “The 2000 Year Old Man Goes to School” (2005).
The Center for the Book (www.loc.gov/cfbook/) was established by Congress in 1977 "to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to promote books, reading, literacy and libraries." With its many educational programs that reach readers of all ages, through its support of the National Book Festival and through its dynamic state centers in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Center for the Book has developed a nationwide network of organizational partners dedicated to promoting the wonders and benefits of reading.
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