Jerry Stiller has died. The beloved actor and comedian passed away of natural causes at age 92. His son, Ben Stiller, announced the sad news in a tweet on Monday morning.
I’m sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes. He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad. pic.twitter.com/KyoNsJIBz5
— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) May 11, 2020
Stiller was best known for his comedy act with his late wife, Anne Meara, as well as his roles as Frank Costanza on Seinfeld and Arthur Spooner on The King of Queens. The actor and comedian’s film career spanned nearly 40 years, with roles in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Hairspray, Airport 1975, Freefall, and his son’s Zoolander films.
He Started His Comedy Career With Anne Meara
Stiller met his future wife Anne Meara at a 1953 casting call, according to CNN. The Second City comedy troupe grads formed the iconic “Stiller & Meara” comedy team and were frequently featured on The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960s.
The couple’s comedic chemistry was undeniable. In addition to comical radio ads for Blue Nun wine, the duo also appeared together on the 1970s sitcom Rhoda, where Meara was a semi-regular, and on several episodes of Archie Bunker’s Place. In the 1980s, the couple headlined the short-lived Stiller and Meara Show. They reunited in the 2000s on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens, where their characters married on the show’s series finale in 2007.
Stiller and Meara had two children, Ben and Amy Stiller. Both followed in their parents’ footsteps with careers in the entertainment industry. Meara died in 2015, at age 85.
Kevin James Talked Him Out Of Retirement
Stiller was a familiar face on some classic TV shows. Over his long career, he appeared on The Defenders, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, Love American Style, The Paul Lynde Show, Hart to Hart, Trapper John M.D., Law & Order, and more. He also voiced the character of Principal Stickler on the children’s series Fish Hooks.
One of Stiller’s most well-known TV roles was as George Costanza’s quirky dad, Frank Costanza, on Seinfeld — a role he would undertake from 1992 to 1998. In 1997, the role earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. Following his stint on Seinfeld, Stiller was ready to hang up his hat — until Kevin James came calling.
Stiller once revealed that James lured him out of retirement to play Arthur Spooner for 175 episodes of The King of Queens, which aired for nine seasons on CBS from 1998 to 2007, per Today.
“He literally begged me to be in this show. He kissed me. He hugged me. He said, ‘I can’t do it without you.'”
Stiller also admitted that before his hilarious role on The King of Queens, he never saw himself as “more than just a decent actor.”
In an interview, Stiller reflected on his role as Arthur Spooner, per MentalFloss. The character moved in with his daughter Carrie (Leah Remini) and son-in-law, Doug Heffernan (James), and regularly wreaked havoc in their household.
“You live off the people you’re working with. I took it from the other actors and how they treated me in terms of the character, and I found out I was a noodge, a person who was a pain in the neck, a bunion on their life. And I carried it out to the best of my ability.”