‘All in the Family’: Rob Reiner Described Moment in Youth That Drove Him to Success

by Joe Rutland

Rob Reiner grew up as a son of show business royalty with Carl Reiner as his father. Yet the “All in the Family” star wanted validation.

Specifically, the younger Reiner wanted it from his father. He talks about growing up and being around Carl Reiner when he was working on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” It should be noted here that Carl Reiner not only was a writer and producer on that show, but he also played talk-show host Alan Brady.

Rob Reiner opened up about some of these moments in a 1986 interview with The Chicago Tribune.

‘All in the Family’ Star Visited Dad On ‘Van Dyke Show’ Set

”As for my father,” Reiner said, ”I remember when I was 13, and he was writing `The Dick Van Dyke Show,` which still is a classic. I would visit him on the set, and I used to go to his office, sit behind his desk, and wonder how I was ever going to be as good as he was.”

Reiner then finds himself at 18 years old performing in “Enter Laughing,” a play based on Carl Reiner’s life, in summer stock productions in Plymouth, Mass.

‘I was earning good reviews and signing autographs after the show,” Rob Reiner said. “Then he came to see me, and although he didn`t exactly say he hated me in it, I knew he thought I was no good, and it crushed me.”

Rob Reiner Gets Compliment For Work From Carl Reiner

One year later, when Rob Reiner was 19, he was directing “No Exit” on stage in Los Angeles and it starred Richard Dreyfuss.

“My dad came backstage, looked at me straight in the eye, and said, ‘That was good. No bull—-,'” Rob Reiner said. “I couldn`t believe it. And it`s taken me all these years to get comfortable with who I am.'”

Soon, “All in the Family” creator and producer Norman Lear would come calling on the young Reiner. He would play Michael Stivic, the boyfriend and husband of Gloria Bunker, played by Sally Struthers.

‘Meathead’ Role Becomes Blessing, Curse To Reiner

That show became both a blessing and curse to Reiner. The blessing was that he found work on a top-rated TV sitcom. Obviously, the curse comes from him being only seen as “Meathead,” a nickname from Archie Bunker’s arsenal of labels.

Rob Reiner, after leaving the TV acting world, found himself directing movies like “Stand By Me,” “This Is Spinal Tap!”, “The Sure Thing,” and “When Harry Met Sally.” He received accolades for his directing work and began putting a lot of distance between his TV character and being a movie director.

Carl Reiner died on June 29, 2020. He was 98. He lived long enough to see his son Rob gain great success. Rob was able to share his success with his father, something he gladly did until Carl’s death.