Ben Stiller confirmed his father’s death in the early hours of Monday morning, writing on Twitter: “I am sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, died of natural causes. He was a great-grandfather and grandfather, and Anne’s most devoted husband for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed. I love you dad. “
After a long career in comedy routines with his wife Anne Meara, appearing on Broadway and starring in television series, Stiller became known for his role in “Seinfeld” as Frank Constanza, as the father of Leah Remini in “The king of queens, “And as manager of Zoolander in the comedy directed by Ben Stiller.
He appeared in 26 episodes of “Seinfeld” as Constanza, George’s father (Jason Alexander), from 1993 to 1998, with Estelle Harris embodying his wife, Estelle. Stiller was nominated for an Emmy Award for his work in the series in 1997.
Although known as an actor, Stiller was also a serious dramatic actor with a long history on Broadway.
Long before Stiller was known for his appearances in “Seinfeld” and “The King of Queens”, Stiller and Meara, were a leading comedy actor in the 1960s, appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” some 36 times . The couple were also part of the improv group The Compass Players, which later became Second City.
Although Meara actually converted to Judaism when the couple married, Stiller and Meara’s material focused on differences in their ethnic origins, embodied in their signature routines “Hershey Horowitz / Mary Elizabeth Doyle”.
Meara died in May 2015.
In “The King of Queens”, where he was a regular on the series from 1998 to 2007, he played the very married Arthur Spooner, the father of Carrie Heffernan by Leah Remini.
Stiller appeared in the two film versions of “Hairspray,” John Waters’ 1988 journey of nostalgia in which he and Divine played the parents of Ricki Lake’s Tracy Turnblad, and the 2007 adaptation by Adam Shankman of musical based on the movie Waters, in which Stiller played Mr. Pinky.
While crude sexual comedies have dominated the day in recent years, Stiller has found himself a niche as an elderly comedian who, with relish, would say things you wouldn’t normally expect from the elderly.
One example was the 2007 effort by the Farrelly brothers “The Heartbreak Kid,” one of dozens of comedies in which Stiller appeared with his son Ben. The Austin Chronicle said, “A man did not live fully, comically speaking, until his eyes and ears were blessed by the experience of octogenarian Jerry Stiller as Doc, the father bluntly libidinous of Ben Stiller’s 40-year-old non-virgin bachelor, Eddie Cantrow. “
The 2001 hit comedy “Zoolander”, directed by Ben Stiller and starring the aerial model of the title, was a family affair, with father Jerry playing Zoolander manager Maury Ballstein. Variety said: Stiller’s father Jerry is another actor who stands out as an aggressive and aggressive juvenile agent for Zoolander. “
In addition to Ben and Jerry, Ben’s wife Christine Taylor acted as a reporter for Time magazine; while Meara and Ben’s sister Amy appeared in cameos.
Jerry and Ben Stiller first appeared in the forgettable 1987 comedy “Hot Pursuit”. In Ben’s first director’s effort, “Reality Bites” in 1994, Meara and her sister Amy both had roles, but Jerry was absent except in the credits, where he was thanked.
Stiller and Meara starred in Joan Micklin Silver’s 1999 feature film “A Fish in the Tub”, about a couple who have been bickering for decades, ultimately prompting the woman to move in with their son, played by Mark Ruffalo.
Demonstrating an ability to do theater, Stiller appeared in a supporting role as police lieutenant Rico Patrone in the classic 1970s thriller “The Taken of Pelham One Two Three” and then he did “Homicide: Life in the street “and two episodes of” Law & Order. Most recently, he invited on “The Good Wife” in 2011 as judge Felix Afterman.
Stiller was born in New York. He graduated from Syracuse University with a B.S. in speech and theater, and also studied theater at HB Studio in Greenwich Village.
He made his Broadway debut in 1954 in the original musical “The Golden Apple”. He also appeared on the Rialto in a cover of “The Threepenny Opera”, 1957 covers of “Measure for Measure” and “The Taming of the Shrew”, “The Power and the Glory” (based on the novel by Graham Greene) , “The Ritz” (1975) and “Unexpected Guests” (1977). In 1980, Stiller starred in “Passione”, directed by Frank Langella, of Albert Innaurato.
“Hurlyburly” (1984-85), directed by Mike Nichols, directed by David Rabe, is more impressive, a caustic Hollywood satire in which Stiller plays a hack screenwriter. The New York Times said: Distribution couldn’t be better … Mr. Stiller, the only representative of Hollywood’s older Jewish generation, is a back-breaking amalgam of vulgarity and hurt vanity – graciously outfitted (by Ann Roth) in western attire. “
He made his screen debut in 1956 in a segment of “Studio One in Hollywood”.
Stiller was busy in the 1970s inviting artists such as “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”, “Love, American Style”, “Phyllis” and “Rhoda”; the 1980s brought guest concerts on “Hart to Hart”, “Archie Bunker’s Place”, “Alice” and “Murder, She Wrote”. The 1990s brought guest roles on “L.A. Law, “In the heat of the night” and “The Larry Sanders Show”, in which he played himself.
His first effort as a regular in the series was the short “Joe and Sons” from CBS in 1975; Then, the NBC effort “Tattingers”, in 1988, on a New York restaurant in which the character of Stiller was a chef.
In addition to “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” Stiller’s first feature film included “Airport 1975” and the adaptation of Terrence McNally’s farce “The Ritz,” in which the actor plays Carmine Vespucci (whom the actor played on Broadway). ), who is targeting his brother-in-law, Gaetano Proclo, played by Jack Weston, for murder, prompting Proclo to take refuge in what he does not realize is a gay public bath. In “Nasty Habits”, a Watergate satire applied to the politics of a convent, Meara and Stiller appeared. He appeared in Frank Langella’s strange vehicle “These Lips, These Eyes” in 1980, the stars of Kim Basinger-Jeff Bridges “Nadine” in 1987 and “The Pickle” by Paul Mazursky in 1993.
In 1999 Comedy Central aired a Friars’s Club Roast by Jerry Stiller; the roasters came from several generations ranging from Meara and Alan King to Sandra Bernhard, Harvey Keitel and Michael McKean to her son Ben and Jason Alexander.
Stiller was nominated for a Grammy in 2001 for the best spoken word album for “Married to Laughter: A Love Story with Anne Meara”.
Although Stiller doesn’t boast of the kind of soft voice typically associated with voice-over actors, he has actually done a lot of work in this area. He was the voice of Pretty Boy in the ABC animated series “Teacher’s Pet” in the early 2000s and in the 2004 straight-to-video film; Uncle Max in 2004 “The Lion King 1½”; Old white mouse on “Wonder Pets!” From Nickelodeon in 2009; Main stickler on Disney Channel’s Fish Hooks in 2010-2011; Harvey in the Disney animated feature “Planes: Fire & Rescue” in 2014; and Murray Weiner in the 2014 NBC special “How Murray Saved Christmas”.
Stiller and Meara shared a star on the Hollywood Walk in Fame, awarded in 2007.