Carl Reiner Interviewed by Radio Host Paul Harris

"Carl Reiner, Now You're 94"

Comedy legend Carl Reiner returned to the Paul Harris Show to talk about his new graphic diary, "Carl Reiner, Now You're 94," as well as some other highlights of his career and life: His memories of the late Mary Tyler Moore; Working with Alan Arkin on "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming"; Working with director Norman Jewison on that movie and "The Thrill Of It All"; Why he cast George Burns and John Denver in "Oh, God!"; How he managed to work on movies at the same time he was running "The Dick Van Dyke Show"; That time he and his wife stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House. Listen, then click here to subscribe to the Paul Harris Show podcasts via iTunes!

A Sip of Red Wine, a Bumble Bee Bite & Bingo

Norman Jewison

Norman Jewison

    Had I not been honored by America Cinematique, I might never have remembered this darling story I am now in the process of typing. At a book signing event, which took place before a screening of“The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming,” I had a question an answer session. One of the questions asked was about the film we had just screened.

    “The Russians Are Coming” holds a very special place in my heart, as it came about at a time when I was nearing the end of my rewarding five year stint as the creator-producer of“The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

    There were still four more episodes to mount when I received a call from Norman Jewison, a film director who wanted to discuss something he thought would interest me.

    The following day, while seated in my living room, Norman told me of a wonderful script written by Bill Rose and the note Bill had sent about the casting of this film it read, “If there is a God, Carl Reiner will play the part of Rozanov, a Russian sailor.”

    I was flattered and had not the character been described as a Russian, I might have jumped at it, but instead I explained to Norman Jewison that I had no interest in playing another Russian accented character. I had done fake double-talking Russian with Sid Caesar on “Your Show Of Shows” and just last week I played a Russian artist on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”  I loved doing it. The episode, entitled “October Eve” and I played a Russian artist, Serge Carpenter who painted a nude portrait ofLaura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore) that she intended as a birthday gift for her husband. When posing, she wore her dance leotards, but the artist’s creative mind envisioned Laura nude and that’s how he painted her. (Great show–I recommend you find it and watch it.)

Carl Reiner & Mary Tyler Moore

Carl Reiner & Mary Tyler Moore

    Norman accepted my reason and left, but returned the following day to offer me another role, a role I could not refuse–the male lead opposite Eva Marie Saint! Yes, The Eva Marie Saint, who, had co-starred with The Marlon Brando and The Cary Grant would now have me as her leading man!

Cary Grant & Eva Marie Saint (Left), Eva Marie Saint & Marlon Brando (Right)

Cary Grant & Eva Marie Saint (Left), Eva Marie Saint & Marlon Brando (Right)

    Which brings me back to the American Cimemateque event and the memory that was evoked by a question I was asked about “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming,” the only picture in which I was given star billing.

Eva Marie Saint & Carl Reiner

Eva Marie Saint & Carl Reiner

    The woman wanted to know if there was any special memory I had about the shooting of that film, and I recalled something that had nothing to do with the making of the film. My memory was about an outdoor lunch I had while on location in Mendacino California, and it happened while seated at a long, wooden table.

Alan Arkin

Alan Arkin

    While chatting with Alan Arkin, who, by the way won an Academy Award for playing Rozanov, I happened to glance at Eva just as she was about to take a sip of wine from a paper cup. I shouted, “Eva, don’t, there is a bee on the rim!” but Eva did and the bee did what bees do!

    She let out a howl, and to calm her while I examined her lower lip, I joked, “You know, for snake bites, someone must immediately suck out the venom– it should also work for bee bites. I’ll do that if you like.”

    I saw that the bee had left his stinger in her lower lip, and quickly plucked it out. There was no swelling and luckily no after effects.

    I told the woman who had asked the question about “The Russians Are Coming” that the little incident I described, I had once used as a very satisfying denouement to an episode I had written for “Good Heavens,” a short lived 1976 series which I had produced and hired myself to play the starring role.

    In the series, I played an Angel who rewards an individual for having done an unsolicited good deed. I would grant the good Samaritan one wish and when that wish was fulfilled I would disappear and the do-gooder would have no memory of ever having met an Angel.

    I recall but a few of the stories from “Good Heavens,” but I do remember the one in which my son Rob played the ‘good soul’ whose wish was to become a baseball player–and I, his angelic father, had the pleasure of granting him his wish.

    The pleasant memory that nudged itself into my head when asked about “The Russians Are Coming” was one that involved the thirteenth and final episode of“Good Heavens.” 

    It starred Loretta Swit and Clu Gulager who played lovers that were destined to be mated but their predilection for quarreling threatened to end their romance.

Clu Gugaler & Loretta Swit

Clu Gugaler & Loretta Swit

    In the last scene, they are in their trailer about to embark on a trip, when they become involved in a heated argument. I had written the script but had not found a way to stop them from arguing, until Eva Marie Sainte’s bumble bee popped into my head.

     I shouted to Clu and Loretta the idea I had. They were to continue with their dialogue but beaware that a bee entered their trailer-- and I would supply the sound of a buzzing bee. 

    In a long shot, while they were arguing and swatting at the buzzing interloper, Loretta acted as if the bee had stung her lower lip. After Clu removed the stinger, I had him say to Loretta the line I said to Eva Marie, “You know, for poisonous snake bites, someone must immediately suck out the venom, it should also work for bee bites. “I’ll do that if you like.”

    We then had a closeup of Loretta’s fingers holding out her lower lip for Clu to suck, which he does in earnest. After a proper amount of suck time, the two begin feeling amorous–glance into each other’s eyes, then slowly rotate their lips into a position where their tongues can properly French kiss--- as we went in for a tight close up.

Carl Reiner on The Late Late Show with James Corden

Carl Reiner's new book "Why & When The Dick Van Dyke Show was Born" will becoming out in October... We are so proud at Random Content Publishing of this book.  We were honored to be involved in a project that is so close to Carl's creative being.  This book is about the creating and maintaining a TV series for 5 wonderful seasons. The book contains two scripts in fact  the original scripts came from Carl's Smith Corona typewriter. The scripts were carefully scanned and placed at the end of the book.  You will see how the very first original script he wrote called "Head of the Family" was changed  to  "The Dick Van Dyke Show."  The script went from a single camera to a three camera situation comedy to be shot at Desilu Studios.  Carl wrote the first 59 epodes by himself... This book is about the episodes that he wrote and how they were lifted from his life.  He has always told young writers to write what they know...  He maintains an amazing daily writing schedule and enjoys creating daily tweets. Carl's twitter handle is @carlreiner... As of today Aug.24, 2015 he has 96.6K followers... Please watch the very funny short clip with Carl and James Corden... Carl has received The Mark Twain Award... 12 Emmys and 6 of those were for "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and he is only 93 years old. 

Carl Reiner's Smith Corona where it all started. 

Carl Reiner's Smith Corona where it all started. 

Carl Reiner Book Signing at Larry Edmunds Bookshop, Hollywood

During his book signing, Carl Reiner entertained a packed house at Larry Edmunds Bookshop. The event quickly morphed from Carl relaying stories from the book to a true conversation with the audience. Jeff Mantor, owner of Larry Edmunds Bookshop, presented Carl with a cake resembling the cover of his memoir "I Just Remembered" for his 93rd birthday. However, no one ate cake, because Carl loved the decorated cake so much that he didn't want to cut into it. 

Jeff Mantor presenting Carl Reiner with a birthday cake for his 93rd B-Day!

Jeff Mantor presenting Carl Reiner with a birthday cake for his 93rd B-Day!

Carl Reiner joking with a packed house at Larry Edmunds Bookshop 

Carl Reiner joking with a packed house at Larry Edmunds Bookshop 

"One Lucky Bastard" by Carl Reiner Exclusively on RANDOM CONTENT

    Most people would find it hard to believe that Brando Newman, the central male character of this epic tale, was but twenty years old when he went from being a sad, lost soul to a happy, bonafide celebrity. Some consider Brando Newman to be the luckiest man alive and others, the unluckiest.

     How lucky would you say was a man who is the sole surviving sibling in his family? Two of Brando’s brothers, Sean and Redford, were the first to go and his older sisters, Sandra and Brigitte, passed away the following day. During that short, fateful period, four of the Newman sextuplets had breathed their last breaths. It was a heartbreaking morning for their mother, Ava Newman, and for their father, Adam Pafko, her soon to be husband, whose divorce papers from his first wife had just been signed. 

    It was also a sad day for the hard working attendants in the nursery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. All were tearful when Liam, the fifth sextuplet, had to be taken off the life-support system.

    Their Dad was saddened by the loss but their mother was inconsolable. For nine months, two hundred and seventy long days, Ava had proudly and with great discomfort carried six growing embryos in her womb. For the last four months of her pregnancy, while confined to her bed, Ava read every old and new book about the care and raising of infants–from Doctor Benjamin Spock’s “Baby And Child Care” and Magaret Ribble’s “The Rights Of Infants”to the recently published “Baby 411” by Denise Field and Ari Brown.

    From the catalogues strewn on her bed, Ava had ordered six cribs, blue and pink sleepwear, dozens of blankets and sheets, six ceiling mobiles, six rubber ducks and a boxful of pacifiers. She had promised herself to do everything in her power to be the best possible mother to her six babies. 

    Now that all but one were gone, the love, dedication and hands-on mothering that Ava was prepared to give to her six babies, she would hereafter lavish on her only child, Brando. 

    Being aware of his future wife’s plan, Adam promised that he would do all in his power to help her raise their child in the manner she had outlined. 

     The two doting parents were an unbeatable team and their giggly infant was the recipient of the best kind of loving care. All went swimmingly for the family until one hot summer’s day when Adam dove into their backyard pool and swam three fast laps before suffering a fatal heart attack. This tragic event aborted the chance for Adam to give his son legitimacy. 

    From that day forward, Ava Newman channeled all her time, energy and love into the raising of the last living member of her bastard brood. 

    As Brando grew, Ava pointed out to her son how ephemeral life was and because no one could know how long they would live, she suggested that Brando become involved only in pursuits that would bring him joy, real honest-to-goodness joy!

     Fortunately, there were two things in Brando’s life that made it possible for him to take her suggestion to heart. The one thing he would never have to worry about was making a living, as his Dad bequeathed to him an enormous fortune. He now had millions in real estate and cold, hard cash but sadly, no legitimate surname. 

    As for Brando pursuing something that gave him real joy, there would not be a problem. In all the world there was but one endeavor that, if he successfully completed, would doubtlessly provoke a great big smile on his handsome face–a smile so broad that it would ricochet through his body and bring him the kind of unbridled joy his mother dreamed that one day would be his.

    To many, it may seem puerile that such unabashed joy could be engendered simply by his succeeding in doing something he had attempted every day since he had learned to read--fill in all the empty boxes in every crossword puzzle printed every day in the daily and weekend editions of the Los Angeles Times and New York Times. 

    Of late, to challenge himself, Brando has been pain-stakingly completing the New York Times puzzles on his old Smith Corona typewriter. 

    Knowing how much joy her son would have if he could solve the crossword puzzles in foreign languages, Ava Newman searched out and hired language professors to teach Brando how to read and write French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, Slovak, Irish, Scottish, Portuguese, Yiddish and Farsi –and to good avail!

    It was reported that after filling in the last square of the Sunday edition of the Farsi crossword puzzle, the smile that exploded on Brando’s face was so radiant that his flashing teeth were visible to the astronauts who were manning the international station in outer space.

FOR MORE STORIES by CARL REINER see "What I Forgot To Remember," his Spring 2015 Bio.