PEAKING on videotape from his
home in California, comedy writer Larry Gelbart said Carl Reiner
doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. “In fact, he doesn’t have any
bones in his body
- he used them all up to make soup.”
The laughter at the second annual
Alan King Award in American Jewish Humor, honoring Reiner, set the tone.
The National Foundation for Jewish Culture sponsored the event at New
York’s Pierre Hotel.
Carl Reiner flanked by Bill Persky
and Mary Tyler Moore
“Before you start the
dinner,” Gelbart added, “let me say the traditional blessing: Baruch
ata...melech haolam hamotzi lechem William Morris.”
That prompted the New York head
of the William Morris Agency, Alan Kannof, to bring his 10-year-old
son Seth up to make the authentic hamotzi, the blessing over
Seth, who’s in 10th
grade, told me he makes kiddush and hamotzi every Friday
night at home in Scarsdale.
Since his father is in the
business, it is only natural that Seth has his heart set on being an actor
Not yet, his mother insisted. He
has to finish school first.
“Okay,” Seth told her. “But
when I’m 22 – boom! Hollywood!”
Alan King (left) with Joseph Stein
and NFJC board member
Karen Gantz Zahler
Playwright Joe Stein, who
wrote Fiddler on the Roof and Zorba among other classics,
was depressed. His close friend, Joseph Heller, had died that day.
Reiner called and persuaded Stein to come to the dinner.
Emcee Alan King said
he’s been going to so many funerals lately, that when he drives in every
Monday from Long Island to his Midtown office, he stops at Riverside
Memorial Chapel just in case they couldn’t reach him over the weekend.
King said we didn’t have any
humor in this country until the Jews arrived.
“There were no laughs when the
British were here. They have no sense of humor. You don’t have funny
people in Canada or Australia.”
To introduce a new generation of
mirth, King presented Susie Essman and Gary Greenberg.
“I’m trying to start a
Million Jew March,” Greenberg announced. “If they can have a Million
Man March, we can have a Million Mensch March. My friends would say, why
can’t we just take the car?”
When Reiner finally got his
chance, he told how he wore a toupee on the Dick
Van Dyke Show.
on the street. He said when you wear a toupee, someone inevitably comes up
and asks, “Are you wearing a toupee?” You say no, and he says, “You
know, you can’t tell.”
When his son Rob had Hillary
Rodham Clinton over to the house, and then President Bill Clinton
too, Carl said “I shepped
“Could my father ever have had
the opportunity to invite Eleanor Roosevelt over to our flat in
In Hollywood, Reiner said, Jewish
moguls like to play a quiz they call “Who’s the Jew?”
“One of the biggest surprises
was learning that Basil Rathbone went to a Sephardic synagogue in
Manhattan. Now Mary Tyler Moore has found that one of her
grandfathers was Jewish.”
“We can’t call you shiksah
anymore,” he added as Moore smiled at her husband, Dr. Richard Levine.
is not only America’s sweetheart,” Reiner continued, “but the
fulfillment of every Jewish mother’s dream of having her daughter marry
a Jewish doctor.”