Seinfeld star Jerry Stiller dies aged 92, son Ben pays tribute

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jerry Stiller, who performed two of American tv’s most cantankerous fathers on the sitcoms “Seinfeld” and “The King of Queens,” has died aged 92, his son Ben Stiller stated on Twitter on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Actor Jerry Stiller arrives on the American Museum of Pure Historical past for the premiere of the film “Night time on the Museum” in New York, U.S. December 17, 2006. REUTERS/Eric Thayer/

“I’m unhappy to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, handed away from pure causes,” wrote Ben, a Hollywood comic who appeared along with his father in “Zoolander” and different motion pictures.

“He was an ideal dad and grandfather, and essentially the most devoted husband to Anne for about 62 years. He shall be drastically missed. Love you Dad,” he added.

Jerry Stiller was a part of a 1960s comedy crew with spouse Anne Meara. However he was in his mid-60s when he received what would grow to be his signature appearing function – Frank Costanza, father of ne’er-do-well George Costanza (performed by Jason Alexander) on “Seinfeld,” a tense, bombastic man at all times on the verge of apoplexy.

In 1993, Stiller had thought his leisure profession was nearing an finish when he received a telephone name from Larry David, co-creator of “Seinfeld,” about becoming a member of the solid led by comic Jerry Seinfeld.

The present, one of the vital extremely regarded in U.S. TV historical past, was in its fourth season on the time however Stiller stated he had by no means watched a minute of it and needed to ask, “Who’s Seinfeld?”

He was performing in a play on the time and needed to flip down the TV job. Stiller received one other likelihood on the function a number of months later and took it.

Stiller was in solely 26 of the 172 “Seinfeld” episodes however every look was memorable, whether or not he was screaming “serenity now!” in a tense scenario, making an attempt on a bra for males or explaining the odd rituals of Festivus, the Dec. 23 vacation he established as a substitute for Christmas.

Stiller stated he was initially informed to play Frank in a meek, understated method in distinction to the character’s loud, shrill spouse. A number of days in, nonetheless, Stiller responded to one of many spouse’s rants with an improvised tirade of his personal and the present’s producers and solid appreciated it.

“And from that day on, it was the perfect years of my life as an actor as a result of I labored with individuals who have been essentially the most beneficiant actors on this planet,” Stiller stated in an interview with the Archive of American Tv.

“Seinfeld” ended its nine-year run in 1998 and that very same 12 months Stiller moved into one other sitcom dad function on “The King of Queens.” As Arthur Spooner, he performed one other blowhard oddball – though not fairly as eruptive as Frank Costanza – residing within the basement of the house of his daughter (performed by Leah Remini) and her husband (Kevin James) by means of the present’s 9 seasons.


Stiller was born and grew up in New York, impressed by comic Eddie Cantor and the vaudeville reveals he noticed along with his father, a bus driver.

After serving within the U.S. Military, Stiller studied drama at Syracuse College after which sought appearing jobs. He was working with a girl comedy associate when he met Meara in 1953 at an agent’s workplace. They married a number of months later.

Stiller and Meara labored collectively within the Compass Gamers comedy troupe earlier than forming their very own crew. By the 1960s, that they had grow to be a well-liked comedy duo on U.S. tv and appeared 36 instances on “The Ed Sullivan Present.” Their act included skits akin to an interview with the biblical Jonah after his encounter with the whale and parodies of TV commercials.

A lot of their humor was marriage-based and targeted on top (Stiller was 5-foot-4, Meara was significantly taller) and ethnicity (he was Jewish, she was of Irish heritage).

“Our marriage has lasted as a result of we’ve got the identical emotions of insecurity about being an actor. We would have liked stability,” Stiller informed the New York Every day Information in 2012.

Within the early 1970s, Stiller and Meara started working individually. She made the films “The Out-of-Towners” and “Lovers and Different Strangers” and had a one-year run starring on the tv present “Kate McShane.” He did some Broadway work and appeared in movies together with “Airport 1975” and “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.”

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Meara died in 2015 at age 85.

Stiller additionally had roles in each the 1998 and 2007 variations of the film “Hairspray” and appeared in movies starring son Ben akin to “Zoolander” and “The Heartbreak Child.”

Stiller and Meara’s daughter, Amy, is also an actress.

Writing and reporting by Invoice Trott; Further reporting by xxx xxxx; Modifying by Will Dunham and Andrew Heavens

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