Carl Reiner only wore a toupee for big crowds

He didn't mind being bald most of the time.

One of the things that made The Dick Van Dyke Show so resonant was its writing staff. The show's writers regularly drew from real-life occurrences, and that reality is reflected by the characters onscreen. Rob and Laura Petrie feel believable because so many of their stories and conflicts are based on things that actually happened to people. Genuine comedy veterans populate the rest of the cast, and so the laughs are all rooted in experience.

Take, for instance, The Dick Van Dyke Show's Carl Reiner. In addition to creating the series, Reiner starred as Alan Brady, Rob's boss and the host of a television variety show. The onscreen antics of the comedy writing staff feel realistic because of Reiner's experience writing comedy. Reiner cut his teeth writing for Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, and he based The Dick Van Dyke Show on that time in his life. So there was no shortage of credibility in the show's approach to depicting comedy writers.

Reiner drew from his real life in other ways, as well. In the episode "Coast to Coast Big Mouth," Laura Petrie reveals in an interview that Reiner's character Alan Brady wears a toupee.

"One of the best episodes we ever did," Reiner remarked in 2014. He went on to praise the episode's scribes, Sam Denoff and Bill Persky. 

"They knew me," said Reiner, "and they knew I wasn't at all self-conscious about being bald: I only wear a toupee to feel dressed-up, or if there are more than 5,000 people present. But they knew Alan Brady didn't feel the same way."

He also praised Mary Tyler Moore's role in the episode.

"It was one of Mary's funniest performances," said Reiner. "She was a very quick study. It didn't take her very long."

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12 Comments

MrsPhilHarris 4 months ago
One of my favourite episodes of TDVDS. Love when Alan stacks all the wigs on his head.
cperrynaples 4 months ago
BTW, I mentioned last week that the slimy game show host that made Laura talk about the toupee died! He had a lot of credits to his name! Don't remember it, do a IMDB search for Coast To Coast Big Mouth and you'll find him!
LoveMETV22 4 months ago
Oh Carl.... What's wrong with Bald ? Just take a look at a few in the industry who chose bald for a role.
justjeff LoveMETV22 4 months ago
Yeah, but SO MANY male performers let their vanity speak for them...

William Shatner and Burt Reynolds could have each opened up a toupee museum with the number of different rugs they'd sported over the years..

Although they were [at times] seen in public without them... Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Bing Crosby all wore hairpieces...
Others [in their later years] included Howard Cosell, Fred MacMurray, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne, James Stewart, Ray Milland...

Plus there's other wig-wearers: Ted Danson, John Cryor, Charles Nelson Reilly, Jack Klugman, Burt Lancaster, Sean Connery, David Niven, Rex Harrison, Van Heflin, Don Knotts... the list could go on for days...

Don Rickles, (who was bald for most of his career) started to use a comb-over of just a few strands of hair in the 1970s that covered nothing...

Well, please don't scalp me for getting to the root of this conversation... Don't flip your wig or tear your hair out... I like these performers with or without added hair... I won't sweep the facts under the rug... but I might just have toupee for all of these bad puns!

You know what they say..."Hair today, gone tomorrow"...
daDoctah justjeff 4 months ago
Back when Carl was producing The Dick Van Dyke Show, there was a comedian whose schtick was heavily tied up in having his toupee snatched off his head (or doing so himself in frustration) to reveal the gleaming pate beneath. His name was Milton Frome, and he was even cast on TDVDS as the insurance investigator who questions all of Rob's friends after he reports his new watch missing (although no toupee in that appearance). When Mel comes to the writer's room to complain, even *he* calls him Rob's "bald-headed assassin" and sides with Buddy over the treatment of everyone as a suspect.

(That's also the episode in which Dick Van Dyke accidentally addresses his co-star as "Ro" rather than "Sally". Watch closely the next time it's on.)
justjeff daDoctah 4 months ago
Milton Frome was all over the place in the 1950s and 1960s - The Three Stooges and The Adventures of Superman are just two examples. I'm well familiar with him...
BenSobeleone justjeff 4 months ago
he was also in The Nutty Professor with Jerry Lewis
Runeshaper 4 months ago
Sounds like a very down to earth man!
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