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Saturday 30 August 2014

Estelle Reiner

Actress who delivered one of Hollywood's most famous lines

Published 02/11/2008 | 00:00

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ESTELLE Reiner, who died on October 25 aged 94, uttered one of the most famous lines in modern cinema -- as a customer in a New York deli in the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally, she observed Meg Ryan's character faking an orgasm at a nearby table and told the waiter: "I'll have what she's having."

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Estelle Reiner -- who appeared only in that one cameo -- was the mother of the film's director, Rob Reiner, and married to the actor, director and producer Carl Reiner, famous for his partnership with Mel Brooks.

She used the fame bestowed on her by her scene to embark, in her mid-70s, on a career as a jazz singer, recording and performing until last year.

She was born Estelle Lebost in the Bronx on June 5 1914, and as a girl spent much of her time at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem.Having studied at the National Academy of Design in Manhattan, she joined Sperry Corp as its first female isometric draughtsman, preparing blueprints for submarines and aircraft.

On Christmas Eve 1943 she married Carl Reiner, eight years her junior, who was on Army leave and had given up repairing sewing-machines to seek a career in showbusiness.

As his career prospered Estelle brought up their two sons and one daughter in Beverly Hills. Later there were occasional film parts. Mel Brooks's wife, Anne Bancroft, gave her a part in Fatso (1979). She also appeared in her husband's picture The Man With Two Brains, with Steve Martin, and was Gruba in Mel Brooks's remake of To Be or Not to Be (both 1983).

As well as recording a number of albums, she performed at clubs in New York and Los Angeles. If heckled, she gave as good as she got, demanding of her tormentors: "Don't you ever go to the men's room?"

Estelle Reiner is survived by her husband and by their three children.

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