Russell Crowe leads tributes to veteran TV writer and director Carl Reiner

Russell Crowe has paid tribute to comedian, director and actor Carl Reiner, describing him as “a gem” following his death aged 98.

The Gladiator star, 56, recalled hosting the annual Directors Guild of America Awards alongside the prolific performer, who helped create The Dick Van Dyke Show and appeared in films including Ocean’s Eleven.

Reiner died on Monday night at his home in Beverly Hills of natural causes, his assistant Judy Nagy confirmed.

Writing on Twitter, Crowe said: “Back in the early 2000’s Carl Reiner would host the DGA awards. 3 years in a row I got up and presented for directors like Michael Mann, Ridley Scott and Ron Howard.

“The first time Carl said to me the more relaxed and collegiate we are the better for the audience so I followed that advice.

“He was easy company and we swapped a little banter on and off stage.

“By the third year I was totally comfortable in that environment and made a little remark from the stage about how much I enjoyed seeing and being with Carl and what an honour it was

“When I left the stage that third year, Carl turned to the audience and dead panned: ‘I’ve never met that guy before in my life.’”

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Mel Brooks with Carl Reiner (Nick Ut/AP)</figcaption>
Mel Brooks with Carl Reiner (Nick Ut/AP)

Reiner had a double act with close friend Mel Brooks, 94, with the pair’s The 2000 Year Old Man sketch becoming a fan favourite.

In his 90s, Reiner would regularly meet with Brooks to watch films and tell jokes.

Crowe continued: “Years later I got to do a TV show in London with another hero Mel Brooks.

“He told me that once a month, he and Carl would watch Gladiator.

“He waxed lyrical about the film for a moment, how much he loved it, how amazing it was, emphasising how many times he had watched it, only to add something like: ‘I would have edited it more.’

“Rest In Peace Mr Reiner. You were a gem my friend.”

Figures from comedy, acting and politics also paid tribute.

His son, the actor-director Rob Reiner, described him as his “guiding light”.

He said: “Last night my dad passed away. As I write this my heart is hurting. He was my guiding light.”

Hillary Clinton said: “Carl Reiner was a lovely, hilarious man who knew how to drive home his beliefs with grace and humor.

“Sending my condolences to his family and friends at the conclusion of a life well-lived.”

The Muppets and Star Wars puppeteer Frank Oz said: “Carl Reiner. I never met him, but I feel the need to thank him for SHOW OF SHOWS, DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, ENTER LAUGHING, 2OOO YEAR OLD MAN, movies directed, words written, and on and on. 240 characters can’t do justice to his legacy.

“Amazing contribution to keeping us sane.”

Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston said: “I’m sadly reflecting on the influence that @carlreiner had on comedy and me, but it doesn’t last because i remember the routines and that makes me smile.

“He was truly a genius and could be the comic or the straight man. my condolences to @robreiner and the family. thank you, carl.”

Adam Sandler shared a recent photo taken of Reiner wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, describing him as “one of our comedy heroes”.

In recent years, Reiner appeared in the Ocean’s Eleven films starring George Clooney and in documentaries including Broadway: Beyond The Golden Age and If You’re Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast.

He recounted his childhood and creative journey in the 2013 book, I Remember Me.

Most Read in Showbiz