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Comedy Center, Carl Reiner preserve ‘Dick Van Dyke Show’ archives

The National Comedy Center, in Jamestown, and legendary producer, director and writer Carl Reiner will digitally preserve Reiner’s extensive personal collection of production-used scripts from iconic “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

The scripts, which are heavily annotated in Reiner’s own hand, have been stored away since the series wrapped production in 1966, and have never before been made available to a cultural institution for conservation or exhibition. Scripts for all 158 episodes, totaling more than 7,500 pages, feature detailed edits and additions made in real-time 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.

“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,” Carl Reiner, who turned 97 on Thursday, said. “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.”

Reiner drafted the show’s pilot script 60 years ago — in 1959 — and it remains a high-water mark in the history of comedy and American popular culture. Inspired by Reiner’s experiences as a co-star and writer on Sid Caesar’s legendary “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour” variety shows, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” starred Dick Van Dyke as television writer Rob Petrie, Mary Tyler Moore as his wife, Laura Petrie, and Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie as writing colleagues for the fictional “Alan Brady Show.” 

Reiner would make occasional appearances as Rob’s egocentric boss Alan Brady. The series originally aired on CBS from 1961 until 1966. It continues to be a major influence on television comedy and comedy creative talent to this day.

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.”

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