Mel Brooks on life without best friend Carl Reiner: 'I miss him so much'

·2-min read
Mel Brooks has opened up about life without best friend Carl Reiner (pictured together in 2014). (Photo: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
Mel Brooks has opened up about life without best friend Carl Reiner (pictured together in 2014). (Photo: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

It's been nearly a year and a half since Carl Reiner died of natural causes at age 98. In addition to his children, including director Rob Reiner, the 11-time Emmy winner left behind his longtime best friend, comedy legend Mel Brooks, a fellow widow with whom he famously spent his evenings watching Jeopardy! and having meals together. In a joint interview with CBS Sunday Morning conducted last year, the comedians shared how they were safely keeping up their game show viewing tradition.

"Yeah, we turn on Jeopardy! at the same time, and we turn on Wheel of Fortune at the same time, and we try to guess the answers and, you know, we have fun on the phone," Reiner said in April 2020, just weeks into lockdown and a couple of months before his death last June.

Now 95 years old, Brooks is reflecting on life without Reiner in a new interview with the Guardian, which coincides with the release of his memoir, All About Me!, published last week. Calling Reiner a "sweetheart of a guy," Brooks was asked about his nightly Jeopardy! habit.

"It’s over for me," he said. "All the stuff I used to do with Carl is still around, but I don’t enjoy it if I don’t share it with Carl. It’s as simple as that.”

Of his friend and The 2,000 Year Old Man comedy partner's death, he said, "I miss him so much."

"He would call me in the evenings and say, ‘Come over, come over! I got a big stuffed cabbage for us!’ Even at the end he was always Carl: funny, sweet-natured, warm and just the most wonderful friend a person could ever have," the actor and director added. "People know how good he was, but not how great."

He went on to call Reiner the "greatest audience," saying, "Any time I could surprise him and really break him up, I knew it was funny."

Asked about Reiner's memorial service, which Steve Martin has revealed took place over Zoom because of COVID-19, Brooks brushed it off as "so bad." It's just one of many things the pandemic has denied him, including his ability to go out in public and meet fans, something he once enjoyed.

“They crowd around me and breathe on me and give me their pens," the nonagenerian shared. "It’s just too dangerous. So I don’t go out for meals until [the pandemic] is gone."

Brooks also opened up about mourning wife Anne Bancroft, whose death in 2005 from uterine cancer remains too painful to write about, he said.

Video courtesy NBCU

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