American actor Jerry Stiller has passed away at the age of 92



Comedy veteran Jerry Stiller, who launched his career opposite wife Anne Meara within the 1950s and reemerged four decades later because the hysterically high-strung Frank Costanza on the smash television program “Seinfeld,” died at 92, his son Ben Stiller announced Monday.
Jerry Stiller was a multi-talented performer who appeared in an assortment of flicks, playing 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 also wrote an autobiography, “Married to Laughter,” about his 50-plus year marriage to lover and comedic cohort Meara, who died in 2015. And his myriad television spots included everything from “Murder She Wrote” to “Law & Order” - along side 36 appearances alongside Meara on “The Sullivan Show.”

Stiller, although a supporting player on “Seinfeld,” created a number of the Emmy-winning show’s most enduring moments: co-creator and model for the “bro,” a brassiere for men; a Korean War cook who inflicted gastrointestinal disorder on his entire unit; an ever-simmering salesman controlling his explosive temper with the shouted mantra, “Serenity now!”

Stiller earned an 1997 Emmy nomination for his indelible “Seinfeld” performance. During a 2005 Esquire interview, Stiller recalled that he was out of labor and not the primary choice for the role of Frank Costanza, father to Jason Alexander’s neurotic George.

He was initially told to play the role as a milquetoast husband with an overbearing wife, Estelle, played by Estelle Harris. But the character wasn’t working - until Stiller suggested his reincarnation as an over-the-top crank who matched his wife scream for scream.

It jump-started the septuagenarian’s career, landing him a spot playing Vince Lombardi during a Nike commercial and therefore the role of another over-the-top dad on the long-running sitcom “King of Queens.”

While he was referred to as a nut-job father on the tiny screen, Stiller and wife Meara raised two children in their longtime home on Manhattan's Upper West Side: daughter Amy, who became an actress, and son Ben, who became a writer, director and actor in such films as “Dodgeball,” “There's Something About Mary” and “Meet the oldsters.”

He and Ben performed together in “Shoeshine,” which was nominated for a 1988 Academy Award within the movie category.

READ MORE: Ben Stiller’s highschool punk band releases first song in 36 years

Stiller was considerably quieter and reflective face to face than in character - although even as funny. The son of a busman and a housewife, Stiller grew up in Depression-era Brooklyn. His inspiration to enter entertainment industry came at age 8, when his father took him to ascertain the Marx Brothers within the comedy classic “A Night at the Opera.”

Years later, Stiller met Groucho Marx and thanked him.

Stiller earned a drama degree at Syracuse University after serving in war II, then headed to ny city to launch his career. There was a quick involvement in Shakespearean theater, including a $ 55 every week job with Jack Klugman in “Coriolanus.”

But his life and career took off after he met Meara in spring 1953. They were married that fall.

The seemingly mismatched pair - he a brief, stocky Jewish guy from Brooklyn, she a tall, Irish Catholic from the Long Island suburbs - shared an instantaneous onstage chemistry, too. They were soon appearing on “The Sullivan Show” and dealing nightclubs nationwide.

The pair also wrote and performed radio commercials, most memorably a series of bits for a little-known wine called Blue Nun. The duo's ads boosted sales by 500 per cent. Ben Stiller recalled trips together with his sister to California when his parents would head west to try to to television appearances.

The couple went on to seem as a team in dozens of film, stage and tv productions. one among them was “After-Play,” a 1995 off-Broadway show written by Meara.

Stiller joined “Seinfeld” in 1993, and moved on to “King of Queens” when the opposite Jerry & company went off the air in 1998. He also appeared in Ben Stiller’s spoof on modeling, “Zoolander,” released in 2001.
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