Carl Reiner is 97 and still hard at work. Tuesday on his 97th birthday he announced that he is working to digitally preserve is personal collection of scripts from “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
The scripts, which are heavily annotated in Reiner’s own hand, had been stored away and have not been seen since the series wrapped production in 1966. Scripts for all 158 episodes, totaling more than 7,500 pages, feature detailed edits and additions made during the writing, read-throughs and rehearsals for each episode – providing extraordinary access into the script development and creative process for the 15-time Emmy-winning situation comedy which from 1961 to 1966.
“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.” said Carl Reiner. “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.”
Speaking for the National Comedy Center, Executive Director Journey Gunderson said she is honored that the Center will house the archive. “This is a treasure trove of original material, direct from the pen of one of comedy’s most important and resounding voices,” she said, calling the Dick Van Dyke Show “one of the most influential TV series of all time.”
The National Comedy Center also announced the acquisition of production documents and scripts from the collection of award-winning situation comedy director John Rich, who helmed the first 41 episodes of “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” The John Rich Collection also includes original annotated scripts from his tenure as the original director of the groundbreaking Norman Lear series “All in the Family.”
The Reiner and Rich materials will join the National Comedy Center’s growing archive, which houses creative materials from the careers of comedy innovators including George Carlin, Lucille Ball, Shelley Berman and Lenny Bruce. In 2018, the Center acquired the expansive archive of comedienne Rose Marie, whose portrayal of “Sally Rogers” on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” was an early and significant representation of an independent professional woman on television.
“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,” 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 TV debut. Collectively, the Reiner, Rich, and Rose Marie materials constitute the most comprehensive “Dick Van Dyke Show” archive yet assembled.”