Comedy veteran Jerry Stiller, who launched his profession reverse spouse Anne Meara within the 1950s and reemerged 4 many years later because the hysterically high-strung Frank Costanza on the smash tv present “Seinfeld,” died at 92, his son Ben Stiller introduced Monday.
He died of pure causes, his son — a comedy star himself — mentioned in a tweet.
Jerry Stiller was a multitalented performer who appeared in an assortment of flicks, taking part in Walter Matthau’s police sidekick within the thriller, “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” and Divine’s husband Wilbur Turnblad in John Waters’ twisted comedy “Hairspray.”
He additionally wrote an autobiography, “Married to Laughter,” about his 50-plus yr marriage to soulmate and comedic cohort Meara, who died in 2015. And his myriad tv spots included every part from “Murder She Wrote” to “Law & Order” — together with 36 appearances alongside Meara on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Stiller, though a supporting participant on “Seinfeld,” created among the Emmy-winning present’s most enduring moments: co-creator and mannequin for the “bro,” a brassiere for males; a Korean War cook dinner who inflicted meals poisoning on his whole unit; an ever-simmering salesman controlling his explosive mood with the shouted mantra, “Serenity now!”
Stiller earned a 1997 Emmy nomination for his indelible “Seinfeld” efficiency. In a 2005 Esquire interview, Stiller recalled that he was out of labor and not the primary selection for the position of Frank Costanza, father to Jason Alexander’s neurotic George.
“My supervisor had retired,” he mentioned. “I used to be near 70 years outdated, and had nowhere to go.”
He was initially instructed to play the position as a milquetoast husband with an overbearing spouse, Estelle, performed by Estelle Harris. But the character wasn’t working — till Stiller urged his reincarnation as an over-the-top crank who matched his spouse scream for scream.
It jump-started the septuagenarian’s profession, touchdown him a spot taking part in Vince Lombardi in a Nike business and the position of one other over-the-top dad on the long-running sitcom “King of Queens.”
While he was referred to as a nut-job father on the small display screen, Stiller and spouse Meara raised two kids of their longtime house on Manhattan’s Upper West Side: daughter Amy, who turned an actress, and son Ben, who turned a author, director and actor in such movies as “Dodgeball,” “There’s Something About Mary” and “Meet the Parents.”
He and Ben carried out collectively in “Shoeshine,” which was nominated for a 1988 Academy Award within the brief topic class.
Stiller was significantly quieter and reflective in particular person than in character — though simply as humorous. The son of a bus driver and a housewife, Stiller grew up in Depression-era Brooklyn. His inspiration to enter present enterprise got here at age 8, when his father took him to see the Marx Brothers within the comedy traditional “A Night at the Opera.”
Years later, Stiller met Groucho Marx and thanked him.
Stiller earned a drama diploma at Syracuse University after serving in World War II, and then headed to New York City to launch his profession. There was a quick involvement in Shakespearean theater, together with a $55 per week job with Jack Klugman in “Coriolanus.”
But his life and profession took off after he met Meara in spring 1953. They have been married that fall.
The seemingly mismatched pair — he a brief, stocky Jewish man from Brooklyn, she a tall, Irish Catholic from the Long Island suburbs — shared fast onstage chemistry, too. They have been quickly showing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and working nightclubs nationwide.
The pair additionally wrote and carried out radio commercials, most memorably a sequence of bits for a little-known wine referred to as Blue Nun. The duo’s advertisements boosted gross sales by 500%. Ben Stiller recalled journeys together with his sister to California when his mother and father would head west to do tv appearances.
The couple went on to seem as a staff in dozens of movie, stage and tv productions. One of them was “After-Play,” a 1995 off-Broadway present written by Meara.
Stiller joined “Seinfeld” in 1993, and moved on to “King of Queens” when the opposite Jerry & firm went off the air in 1998. He additionally appeared in Ben Stiller’s spoof on modeling, “Zoolander,” launched in 2001.