45 Things You Didn’t Know About Jerry Stiller
Everything you need to know about Jerry Stiller has been properly highlighted for you in this article. Jerry Stiller was an American comedian, actor, and author, who was born on the 8th of June, 1927 and died on the 11th of May, 2020. He spent many years as part of the comedy duo Stiller and Meara with his wife, Anne Meara, to whom he was married for over 60 years from 1954 until her death in 2015. His son is actor-comedian Ben Stiller (born 1965) and their daughter is an actress Amy Stiller (born 1961). He has two grandchildren through Ben. Stiller died from natural causes at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan on May 11, 2020, less than a month before his 93rd birthday. His death was announced by his son, Ben Stiller. We’ll be telling you all you need to know about Jerry Stiller below.
Jerry Stiller is the eldest son of his parents out of four children. He was born at Unity Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. His family was Jewish. He lived in the Williamsburg and East New York neighborhoods before his family moved to the Lower East Side, where he attended Seward Park High School, where he played Adolf Hitler in a school production. Upon his return from service in the U.S. Army during World War II, Stiller attended Syracuse University, earning a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Drama in 1950. He also studied drama at HB Studio in Greenwich Village. Stiller, along with Gene Saks and Jack Klugman, formed “the best trio of Shakespearian clowns that I have ever seen on any stage”.
Jerry Stiller was also successful in this career before his death. Stiller saw a late-career resurgence starting in 1993, playing George Costanza’s father Frank on the sitcom “Seinfeld,” a part which earned him an “Emmy” nomination. Stiller began his role as the eccentric “Arthur Spooner” on the CBS comedy series “The King of Queens,” another role which garnered him widespread acclaim. Not only that, he is also an Author who wrote lots of books. He wrote the foreword to the 2005 book Festivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us (ISBN 0-446-69674-9) by Allen Salkin. Continue reading below to further know about Jerry Stiller.
All You Need to Know About Jerry Stiller
Now, let’s detail you in bits on key facts you need to know about Jerry Stiller.
About His Personal Life
- Jerry Stiller was born at Unity Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, to Bella (née Citron; 1902–1954) and William Stiller (1896–1999).
- He was the eldest out of four children in his family.
- His family was Jewish, and his father was a taxi and bus driver.
- His mother was born in Frampol, Poland.
- He lived in the Williamsburg and East New York neighborhoods.
- Jerry Stiller and his family later moved to the Lower East Side, where he attended Seward Park High School.
- During his youth age, he went for service in the U.S. Army during World War II.
- Stiller attended Syracuse University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Speech and Drama in 1950.
- He also studied drama at HB Studio in Greenwich Village.
- In 1953, Stiller met actress-comedienne Anne Meara, and they married in 1954. According to Anne Meara, she said “I really knew this was the man I would marry,” Meara told People in 2000. “I knew he would never leave me.”
- His relationship with Meara was certainly a special one both on and off the screen.
- By 1966, the year after their son, Ben, was born, Stiller and Meara were financially secure enough to purchase a seven-and-a-half room co-op on the Upper West Side—a place they would call home for 30-plus years.
- By 1970, Stiller and Meara split up—professionally, that is. Musical variety shows were going the way of the dinosaurs and Meara disliked leaving their young children to go on the road. For both parties, the decision was a relief. “I love Anne, but if I had depended on her in my professional life, I would have lost her as a wife,” Jerry told People in 1977. “I didn’t know where the act ended and our marriage began,” said Meara.
- The couple’s 61-year marriage ended with Meara’s death on May 23, 2015. The family gave no cause of death but some reports cite natural causes. “I miss her,” Stiller said later that year. “There were no walls between us in any way. We both knew what the other was thinking even when we weren’t listening.”
About Jerry Stiller’s Successful Career
- Both Jerry Stiller and his wife, Anne Meara joined the Chicago Improvisational company “The Compass Players” (which later became The Second City).
- After leaving the company, Stiller and Meara began performing together.
- In 1961 they were performing in nightclubs in New York City and by the following year were considered a “national phenomenon”, said the New York Times.
- The comedy team Stiller and Meara, composed of Stiller and his Meara was successful throughout the 1960s, with numerous appearances on television variety programs, primarily on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.
- In 1970, they broke up the live act before it broke up their marriage.
- They subsequently forged a career in radio commercials, notably the campaign for “Blue Nun” wine.
- They also starred in their own syndicated five-minute sketch comedy show on radio, Take Five with Stiller and Meara, from 1977 to 1978.
- From 1979 to 1982, Stiller and Meara hosted HBO Sneak Previews, a half-hour show produced monthly on which they described the movies and programs to be featured in the coming month
- They also did some comedy sketches between show discussions.
- Stiller and Meara had their own 1986 TV sitcom, “The Stiller and Meara Show,” in which Stiller played the deputy mayor of New York City and Meara portrayed his wife, a TV commercial actress.
- Late in his career, Stiller earned the part of the short-tempered Frank Costanza, father of George Costanza, on the sitcom “Seinfeld,” a role which Stiller played from 1993 until 1998.
- Stiller’s character as initially envisioned was a “meek” and “Thurberesque” character that required him to wear a bald cap.
- After a couple days of rehearsal Stiller realized the character wasn’t working and asked Seinfeld co-creator Larry David if he could perform the character in a different way, which was more in line with his final characterization on the show.
- For his portrayal of Frank, Stiller gained widespread critical and popular acclaim, including being nominated for an “Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series” in 1997
- He also won an “American Comedy Award” for Funniest Male Guest Appearance in a TV Series in 1998.
- After Seinfeld ended, Stiller had planned on retiring. However, Kevin James asked him to join the cast of “The King of Queens”.
- James, who played the leading role of Doug Heffernan, had told Stiller that he needed him in order to have a successful show.
- Stiller agreed and played the role of Arthur Spooner, the father of Carrie Heffernan, from 1998 until 2007.
- Stiller said that this role tested his acting ability more than any other had, and that, before being a part of The King of Queens, he only saw himself as a “decent actor.”
- Stiller played himself in filmed “skits” opening and closing Canadian rock band Rush’s 30th Anniversary Tour concerts in 2004. These appearances are seen on the band’s DVD “R30: 30th Anniversary World Tour,” released in 2005.
- Stiller later appeared in cameos for in-concert films for the band’s 2007–08 “Snakes & Arrows Tour”.
- Stiller appeared on Dick Clark’s $10,000 Pyramid show in the 1970s.
- The footage of the appearance was edited into an episode of The King of Queens to assist the storyline about his character being a contestant on the show, and, after losing, being bitter about the experience, as he never received his parting gift, a lifetime supply of Rice-a-Roni.
- He also made several appearances on the game show, “Tattletales,” with his wife, Anne Meara.
- In the late 1990s, Stiller appeared in a series of Nike television commercials as the ghost of deceased Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi.
- He also appeared in various motion pictures, most notably “Zoolander” (2001) and “Secret of the Andes” (1999).
- On February 9, 2007, Stiller and Meara were honored with a joint star on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame”.
- Starting in October 2010, Stiller and Meara began starring in Stiller & Meara, a Yahoo web series from “Red Hour Digital” in which they discussed current topics. Each episode was about two minutes long.
- On October 28, 2010, the couple appeared on an episode of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”.
- Stiller voiced the announcer on the children’s educational show “Crashbox”.
- Stiller also worked as a spokesman for Xfinity.
About the Death of Jerry Stiller
Stiller died from natural causes at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan on May 11, 2020, less than a month before his 93rd birthday. His death was announced by his son, Ben Stiller.
Many actors Stiller worked with, including Seinfeld castmates Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Alexander, and King of Queens castmates Kevin James and Leah Remini, paid tributes to him on social media. Jerry’s legacy will live on through memories of his amazing comedic partnerships, not only with his wife but also with the many television casts he worked with throughout his extensive career.