Actor and comedian Jerry Stiller has died at age 92. Stiller, who starred in a number of popular films like Zoolander and The Heartbreak Kid with his son Ben Stiller, was married to his wife Anne Meara for 61 years until her death in 2015.
Together, the couple made up the popular husband-and-wife comedy duo Stiller and Meara, which rose to fame in the 1960s and 1970s.
Read on to learn more about the couple.
1. She Passed Away at Age 85 of Natural Causes
Thank you so much for all the kind words about Anne. All of us in our family feel so lucky to have had her in our lives.
— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) May 25, 2015
On May 25, 2015, Meara passed away at age 85. She suffered multiple strokes in her later years but eventually died of natural causes.
Meara’s death was confirmed by Jerry and her son, Ben. In the official statement, they wrote, “The Stiller family is deeply saddened to share the beloved Anne Meara passed away last night at the age of 85. She is survived by her husband and partner in life Jerry Stiller. The two were married for 61 years and worked together almost as long. Anne’s memory lives on in the hearts of daughter Amy, son Ben, her grandchildren, her extended family and friends, and the millions she entertained as an actress, writer, and comedienne.”
Meara was born in Brooklyn in 1929 and raised in Long Island. Her father was a lawyer, and her mother, Mary Dempsey, committed suicide when she was just 11. She studied at The New School in Manhattan for a year before kick-starting her career at summer stock in 1948.
It took years before Stiller persuaded Meara to join her husband as a comedy duo. Meara is quoted by the New York Times as saying, “Jerry started us being a comedy team. He always thought I would be a great comedy partner. At that time in my life, I disdained comedians.”
Born and raised in a Roman Catholic family, Meara converted to Judaism six years after marrying Stiller.
2. She Was Nominated for 4 Emmy Awards & a Tony Award
Over the course of her career, Meara was nominated for four Emmys and won a Writers Guild Award as a co-writer for the 1983 TV movie, “The Other Woman.”
She also won an Obie Award in 1955 for her work in “Mädchen in Uniform” and appeared in a number of Shakespeare in the Park productions.
In an interview for the Archive of the American Television, Meara famously said, “Comedy, drama, it’s the same deal. You don’t really act differently; you just make adjustments.”
Some other memorable roles include a teacher in “Fame,” and a personnel manager in “Reality Bites.”
3. Stiller & Meara Were Regulars on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’
After her death in 2015, The Washington Post wrote a feature on Meara that started off: “No matter where they went, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara could charm just about anyone, and if they couldn’t, they usually had a witty retort at the ready.” That much is undeniable.
The pair met at a casting agent’s office in the mid-1950s and married not long after.
In an MSNBC interview with “Morning Joe”, Meara joked that when she and Stiller first sat down for coffee together, Meara asked Stiller to pilfer the silverware.
“I lived in the Village and my roommate, Joyce Arbuckle and me, we needed another set of silverware,” Meara explained.
“Did he do it?” asked host Joe Scarborough.
“Of course he did,” Meara said. “He wanted to sleep with me.”
In addition to making multiple appearances on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’, Meara had recurring roles on “Rhoda”, “Kate McShane”, “Archie Bunker’s Place”, “All My Children”, and “ALF”.
4. She Became a Playwright in the Latter Part of Her Career
In 1995, Meara forayed into writing. Her comedy play, “After-Play” became an Off-Broadway sensation. Another play, “Down the Garden Paths”, also had a brief Off-Broadway run in 2000, with its cast led by Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson.
“After Play” went on to be produced by a number of regional theaters. Contrary to popular opinion, it was not conceived as for Stiller and Meara specifically.
Taking about writing with the New York Times, Meara explained, “I wanted to do something on my own,” she said in 1995. “It’s the same way he feels good about doing ‘Seinfeld.’ The irony is, I feel we’re closer personally than when we were out going to nightclubs.”
5. She Played Miranda’s Mother-In-Law in ‘Sex and the City’
— David Eigenberg (@DavidEigenberg) May 25, 2015
To modern audiences, Meara was perhaps best known for playing Mary Brady, Steve’s mom, in “Sex and the City”.
For her last role, Meara played the voice of a Winnie in Planes: Fire & Rescue, where she was partnered with her husband.
She was also famous for her role in the Yahoo comedy series, “Stiller & Meara”, which was in part produced by son Ben.