Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner were best friends for 70 years — just imagine trying to keep up with that banter! The comedians were both born in New York in the 1920s to Jewish immigrants and met in 1950, according to The Guardian. “I’ll never forget it,” Reiner said. “I came in [to Sid Ceaser’s variety show] one day and I heard this guy say: ‘I’m a Jewish pirate. You know what they’re charging for sails these days? $33.72 a yard! I can’t afford to … pillage any more!’ … I thought, who is this guy? This guy is the funniest single human being on the planet.” Brooks added that they “got a kick out of one another right away.”
Before long, Brooks and Reiner had created the iconic ’50s comedy sketch “The 2000 Year Old Man,” in which Reiner plays the straight man interviewing Brooks’ ancient titular character who comes from biblical times and speaks with a Yiddish accent. According to the Guardian, the two comedians were still performing 2000 Year Old Man bits for each other in Reiner’s living room in 2020. And Brooks was still going over to the late Reiner’s Beverly Hills home every evening to eat dinner together and chat while watching “Jeopardy!.”
Here’s more on their inspiring seven-decade friendship that ended too soon.
Their friendship was strengthened by food and their loving wives
In 2009, The New York Times asked Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner, “What’s the key to 60 years of friendship?” Reiner replied, “Our wives liked each other.” Brooks agreed, “We were all just in perfect harmony. We liked the same kinds of things.” Reiner added, “Except food. He can’t eat onions.”
Even after Brooks’ and Reiner’s wives died — in 2005 and 2008, respectively — the comedic friends still had a food-based connection, jokes aside. “This is a great place because I got friendship, love, and free food,” Brooks said of Reiner’s house to The Guardian. “Free eats are very important, you know … Eating with this guy? You can’t beat it.” Brooks summed up his affections for Reiner to the outlet, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a better friend than Carl.” Reiner added, “My God, the thought of being without him – the world would be too bleak!”
Reiner never had to see a world without Brooks, as he died on June 29, 2020, at age 98, per CNN. But Brooks was left in a world without his best friend of 70 years. “Whether he wrote or performed or he was just your best friend — nobody could do it better,” Brooks wrote in a Twitter statement after Reiner’s death. “He’ll be greatly missed. A tired cliché in times like this, but in Carl Reiner’s case it’s absolutely true. He will be greatly missed.”
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