Estelle Reiner, the wife of writer-director-actor Carl Reiner who later in life became a respected jazz singer and actress, died Saturday, Oct. 25 in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 94.
In her son Rob Reiner’s film “When Harry Met Sally,” Reiner memorably deadpanned, “I’ll have what she’s having,” in reaction to Meg Ryan’s character, who was faking an orgasm She also appeared in Anne Bancroft’s “Fatso” and in Mel Brooks’ “To Be or Not to Be.”
At the age of 65, she embarked on a new career as a jazz singer. She continued performing in clubs in N.Y. and Los Angeles until the age of 93. In addition to singing ballads and standards, she enjoyed performing little known jazz and blues songs such as “Handy Man” and “You Can Have My Husband (But Please Don’t Take My Man).” She fell in love with the blues as a teenager, frequenting the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Reiner released seven albums including”Ukulele Mama” and a collection of standards, “Grown Up Songs For Kids.”
Singer/songwriter Dave Frishberg wrote, “I feel comfortable entrusting my songs to Estelle Reiner, whose musicality shines through every track.”
Born Estelle Lebost in Bronx, N.Y., she graduated the National Academy of Design and during WWII, she was the first female isometric draftsman to work at Sperry Rand, making blueprints for assembly workers building submarines and airplanes. She and Carl Reiner married in 1943 while he was on a weekend pass from the Army.
As an artist, she had four one-woman shows of her paintings in the 1970s. After raising her three children, actor/director, Rob; Annie, a writer and psychoanalyst and Lucas, a painter, Reiner began a career as a performer, studying with Viola Spolin and Lee Strasberg.
In addition to her children and husband of 64 years, she is survived by five grandchildren.
Donations may be made to Save The Children.