Mark Reiner, a longtime New York casting director, died at Cabrini Hospice Dec. 21. The cause of death was cancer, which unexpectedly spread from his prostate into his bloodstream and into his brain.
Reiner was born in New York City July 21, 1928, but throughout his life always professed to be 22. "He had a 22-year-old spirit," according to Marilyn Greene, a close friend for more than three decades.
Broadway songwriter Jerry Herman told Back Stage that he and Reiner "were what you'd call best pals" for some 35 years. "He was my biggest booster, like the brother I never had," he added.
Herman said that Reiner was an outstanding casting director. "He loved show business, and loved musicals, and he was very, very good at picking the right person for the right role at the right time.
"He knew everybody in New York."
Reiner cast for several media, both independently and as a partner with Donna DeSeta in Contemporary Casting. His Broadway credits include "Jerry's Girls" and revivals of "Mame" and "Hello, Dolly!"—all Jerry Herman shows—and "The King and I." He also cast scores of national and international productions, including 15 companies of "A Chorus Line."
In addition, Reiner was the casting director for Tokyo Disneyland for many years, cast "Great Classics" and "Award Winners" for television, and cast European productions of "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Evita," "42nd Street," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "My Fair Lady," and "West Side Story."
Reiner was buried Dec. 22 in Elmont Cemetery on Long Island. He is survived by his companion of nearly 20 years, Shigeo Haga.