Ben Stiller says he is “very grateful” that he was able to be by his father Jerry Stiller’s side in the final hours of his life. The 92-year-old comedy legend passed away of natural causes last week, and Ben announced the sad news to fans on social media.
In a new interview with The New Yorker, Ben revealed that his dad had been slowing down in recent years and that the health pandemic did not play a role in his death.
“My sister [Amy] and I were able to be with him,” Ben said.
“And, just due to the fact that he didn’t have a coronavirus-related illness, and he had been ailing for a while, we were able to be with him, which I’m very, very grateful for.”
The Meet the Parents actor revealed that one month shy of his 93rd birthday, his famous father was “dealing with a lot of issues,” but still maintained his unique humor until the end of his life.
“The last week or two were tougher for him,” Ben said.
“But he went peacefully, and he had a sense of humor, for sure, until the end. I hesitate to call it a sense of humor. He was just funny, and so he was always himself.”
“He was almost 93, and I think his body was kind of at that point where it was time,” Ben added.
Jerry was best known for his stand-up comedy act with his late wife, Anne Meara, as well as his roles in the 1990s sitcoms Seinfeld and King of Queens. Both Ben and sister Amy appeared in guest roles on The King of Queens alongside their dad, and Meara also had a recurring role on the CBS sitcom.
In the New Yorker interview, Ben revealed that the Stiller family had a “small service” for his father after his death and that even the rabbi was talking about Frank Costanza, Jerry’s outrageous character on Seinfeld.
But while one of Jerry’s most memorable roles was on Seinfeld — a series he only appeared in for 26 episodes — Ben said his dad would want to be best be remembered for his work with Anne, his wife of more than 60 years. The late actor thought his wife was “amazing” and cherished their work together on the comedy club circuit and on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Ben also said his dad was “grateful” for all the success he had and that he never had an ego about anything.