Paul Batura: Carl Reiner – America loses comic genius, and a dear friend

Long before Jerry Seinfeld reimagined television comedy in the late 1980s, there was Carl Reiner – a Bronx-born Jewish writer and actor who actually helped invent the medium back in television’s early golden age.

Carl Reiner’s death on Monday in Beverly Hills at the age of 98 marks another passing of a legend from another time, an era when Americans, while disparate in their politics, were largely united in their humor.

He would catch the writing and acting bug after his 16-year-old brother, Charlie, told him about a free dramatic workshop that was being put on by the Works Progress Administration.

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The teenager attended and was quickly hooked, giving up a career as a machinist. The entertainer seed had been planted, eventually blossoming and growing into a seven-decade career that spanned New York’s Broadway to mega Hollywood hits and television immortality, including Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

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I first became familiar with Reiner as a teenager, back when my friends and I discovered “The 2,000-Year-Old Man,” his legendary sketch with Mel Brooks. In that classic, Reiner plays a reporter

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