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Carl Reiner Archives To Be Donated To National Comedy Center

The archives of Carl Reiner, including creative papers, scripts and artifacts, will be donated to the National Comedy Center. Reiner was a founding advisory board member for the Comedy Center. Submitted photos

The National Comedy Center on Friday said it is receiving archives of comedy legend Carl Reiner.

The Reiner family is donating the material to the center, including rare creative papers, scripts and artifacts spanning Reiner’s seven-decade career in comedy as a writer, director, producer, author and performer will be preserved.

In addition, the National Comedy Center will formally name its ongoing work to preserve comedy’s heritage in honor of Reiner, who was a founding advisory board member for the Comedy Center. The Carl Reiner Department of Archives and Preservation will serve as the central hub for all archival and preservation work within the Comedy Center, as it continues its mission to present the history of comedy and preserve comedy’s heritage for future generations.

Reiner, who passed away last June at the age of 98, was an early advocate and instrumental supporter of the National Comedy Center and its vision to celebrate comedy as an art form. With a multi-faceted career spanning television, film, stage, record albums, books and even social media, Carl Reiner was a twelve-time Emmy award-winner, a Grammy award-winner and a recipient of The Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Reiner’s 99th birthday would have been this Saturday, March 20.

“Carl Reiner’s comedic legacy is unmatched,” said National Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson. “His distinctive wit and remarkable talent enabled him to take the ordinary and transform it into indelible and timeless comedy, influencing generations of artists, and entertaining millions. From Your Show of Shows and The Dick Van Dyke Show, to his inimitably funny collaborations with Mel Brooks on the 2,000 Year Old Man, to his beloved comedy films, Reiner built a body of work that is a testament to his creative genius, and the power of comedy to inspire us, enliven us — and touch the human spirit. We are proud that our nation’s first cultural institution dedicated to comedy developed and opened with Carl Reiner’s blessing, and we are honored that his legacy will live on as an enduring anchor of the National Comedy Center’s work.”

The archives of Carl Reiner, including creative papers, scripts and artifacts, will be donated to the National Comedy Center. Reiner was a founding advisory board member for the Comedy Center. Submitted photos

A new multi-media exhibit on Reiner’s work and contribution to the art form of comedy, featuring artifacts, documents and footage from the Reiner Archives, is planned at the National Comedy Center in 2022 as his centennial birthday milestone is celebrated.

In a joint statement, Carl Reiner’s children Rob, Annie and Lucas Reiner said: “People called our father a comic genius, and his gift was his ability to transform discomfort or pain into pleasure and fun. His humor made people feel good, starting with those of us around him, and then pretty much the whole world. He would be so thrilled to know that the National Comedy Center’s archives department is being named for him and that his work will be preserved there, that he would jump in the air, do a scissor kick and sing La Donna e Mobile at the top of his lungs.”

The archives include thousands of pages of creative papers and business correspondence; unpublished comedy material; rare photographs, film footage and audio recordings from his personal and professional life; and industry awards, including his Emmys and Mark Twain Prize. The comprehensive collection includes early drafts and final scripts written by Reiner throughout his career with his handwritten annotations — from the earliest material from his Army days and “Your Show of Shows” sketches to all 158 “Dick Van Dyke Show” scripts, and his film screenplays. Also included are the chairs and TV trays used for years by Reiner and his best friend and frequent collaborator — comedy legend Mel Brooks — as they would spend evenings together eating dinner and watching television up through the time of Reiner’s passing in June of 2020.

Reiner’s close friends and colleagues also commented on Friday’s announcement:

“There will never be another Carl Reiner. I loved him from the moment we first met,” said Mel Brooks. “I’m thrilled that the National Comedy Center will be preserving Carl’s archives and naming its archives and preservation department in his honor – because no one deserves it more than my best friend. Carl’s comedy was timeless and now his name will live on for generations with this wonderful tribute.”

Added Dick Van Dyke: “Carl Reiner was a true genius and the finest human being that I’ve ever known — he is irreplaceable. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this tremendous honor from the National Comedy Center. Carl deserves to be celebrated every day, and now, he will be, within the halls of this museum dedicated to the art form that Carl loved most — comedy.”

The National Comedy Center has collaborated with dozens of artists and estates to preserve materials that represent comedy’s significant artistic, social, and political contributions to American culture including collections illustrating the careers of legendary artists like George Carlin, Lucille Ball, Lenny Bruce, The Smothers Brothers and more.

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