© 2020, The Author(s). Commitment to cell cycle entry and cellular duplication is a tightly coordinated and regulated process. Once initiated, a series of multiple checkpoints ensure both accurate genomic replication and chromosomal separation. In the event of unsuccessful cell division, parallel pathways exist that induce the cell to undergo programmed cell death, or apoptosis. At the center of such stress-induced, intrinsic apoptotic regulation lies the BCL2 family of pro- and anti-apoptotic regulatory proteins. In a proliferative state the balance of pro- and anti-apoptotic signaling proteins would be expected to favor an excess population of anti-apoptotic members. While the anti-apoptotic BCL2 family member, MCL1, has been identified to oversee mitotic progression, direct communication between the BCL2 family and cell proliferation has not been observed. In this study, we demonstrate a direct protein–protein interaction between MCL1 and the G1/S checkpoint protein, P18INK4C. This interaction is mediated by a reverse BH3 (rBH3) motif located in P18INK4C’s C-terminal ankyrin repeat. MCL1 is further shown to decrease P18INK4C expression and thereby regulate cell cycle entry in a retinoblastoma (RB1)-dependent manner. Our findings establish a mechanism for translation independent and direct communication between the BCL2 family regulation of apoptosis and CDK4/6-RB regulation of early G1/S transition during cellular division/growth.