Carl Reiner turned 97 yesterday.
To celebrate, the living comedy legend announced plans to digitally preserve his personal collection of scripts from The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Reiner created, wrote and co-starred on the classic sitcom, which aired on CBS from 1961-1966. His personal scripts include lots of hand-written annotations, have never seen public light since production wrapped 53 years ago, and total more than 7,500 pages for all 158 episodes.
“There’s nothing more satisfying than having an idea and seeing it through to find out that, not only did you like it, but the audience and critics all seemed to agree.” Reiner said in making the announcement. “When asked, ‘Of all the theatrical projects you’ve done in your life, what are you most proud of?’ I always say, hands down, it’s creating and producing ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show.’ It was a labor of love.”
“I applaud The National Comedy Center for keeping the creative fires burning by singling out and preserving something most people feel deserves preservation,” added Reiner.
“This is a treasure trove of original material, direct from the pen of one of comedy’s most important and resounding voices,” said Journey Gunderson, National Comedy Center Executive Director. “We are honored that Carl Reiner has placed his trust in us as we preserve this incredible body of work — which will enable future generations of comedy fans and scholars to understand the creative process behind one of the most influential TV series of all time.”
Not so coincidentally, the National Comedy Center also has acquired documents and scripts from John Rich, who directed the first 41 episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and who also went on to direct All in the Family. Last year, the center acquired archives from the late comedian/singer Rose Marie.
“Never before has so much original material from ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ — from scripts to backstage photos to production documents — been assembled into one archive for preservation,” said Laura LaPlaca, National Comedy Center Director of Archives. “Carl Reiner’s personal scripts, together with the Rose Marie and John Rich Archives, provide extraordinary insight into the creation of this landmark TV series and greater appreciation for why it still resonates with comedy creators and fans over a half-century since its original network run.”