SERENITY NOW! Jerry Stiller Has Gone to Air His Grievances To God.
May 12, 2020 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Ben Stiller announced yesterday that his father, Jerry Stiller, passed away of natural causes. He was 92 Stiller began his acting and comedic career as part of the comedy duo, Stlller and Meara, with his wife, Anne Meara. Popular in the 60's and 70's and performing on variety shows such as the Ed Sullivan Show and The Carol Burnett Show, Stiller and Meara were considered the workingman's Nichols and May. In the 70's and 80"s, Stller moved with ease between Broadway, film, and television

In 1993, Stiller, replacing actor John Randolph, was cast as George Costanza's father, Frank Costanza, on the massive hit sitcom, Seinfeld.
In the 2000's, he was cast as Leah Remini's father in the hit show, King of Queens, and movies such as his son's Zoolander

Anne Meara passed away in 2015. He is survived by his son and daughter, Amy Stiller.
posted by goalyeehah (51 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
posted by dudemanlives at 2:07 PM on May 12

posted by haiku warrior at 2:09 PM on May 12

posted by Splunge at 2:19 PM on May 12

posted by Silvery Fish at 2:19 PM on May 12

Hope he has serenity now.
posted by Splunge at 2:19 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]

Check out his savage murder of Jason Alexander.

posted by Etrigan at 2:21 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]

Chris Addison tweeted about this outtake reel the other day and I understand why he couldn't stop watching it. Stiller was such a master of his craft.

posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:21 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]

This is definitely going on my list of grievances for the year.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:25 PM on May 12 [22 favorites]

posted by May Kasahara at 2:25 PM on May 12

It occurred to me yesterday that my first exposure to Stiller and Meara may have been the Blue Nun wine commercials that used run constantly on the radio news channel my folks listened to all the time. I don't think I've seen or heard that mentioned anywhere, nor when Anne Meara died.

posted by hwestiii at 2:31 PM on May 12

I hope wherever he is he feels reborn - like a phoenix rising from Arizona.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 2:34 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]

There was a throwaway line on King of Queens that still cracks me up. Arthur is found watching television instead of doing whatever he was supposed to be doing and he admits to watching Saved by the Bell. "This young fellow Screech has gotten himself in quite the predicament." Just an incidental line but it was delivered with such panache it made me fall out of my chair, despite having barely an idea who Screech was.

posted by Ber at 2:46 PM on May 12 [13 favorites]

Any time I hear aluminum being mentioned, his voice and the "very high strength to weight ratio" quote pops into my head. Without fail.

It says a lot that he could take an aluminum pole and make it not only funny, but infectiously memorable.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:50 PM on May 12 [7 favorites]

posted by Fizz at 2:59 PM on May 12


Festivus will never be the same.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:12 PM on May 12 [6 favorites]

What I love most about the Jewish tradition of humor is twofold:

1) eh, it could be worse


| (festivus pole)
posted by Guy Smiley at 3:15 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]

posted by JoeXIII007 at 3:20 PM on May 12

Jerry Stiller was in a few small films made for the stage shows for two of the tours of the band Rush. Geddy Lee commented on his death.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 3:34 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]

posted by peeedro at 4:08 PM on May 12

His sense of timing was phenomenal.

posted by aspersioncast at 4:14 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]

that Seinfeld outtake reel..... watching Stiller make Louis-Dreyfus corpse is like the best thing ever.

posted by valkane at 4:20 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]

So, I've noticed about a 50/50 split on social media of people who know him from "Seinfeld" on the one hand, and from "King of Queens" on the other. The thing I find interesting about him having been on both shows is that "King of Queens" was nowhere near as well-written a show as "Seinfeld", but whenever Stiller was on screen, you could hardly tell the difference...his comic delivery was just as good when working with weak material as with strong. I take that as a sign of his talent. And everything I've read over the past couple of days from people who worked with him is that he was a strikingly kind person. And as well...he was happily married for 65 years.

That is a life well-spent.
posted by Ipsifendus at 4:27 PM on May 12 [17 favorites]

Jerry Stiller was in the Broadway production and film version of Terrence McNally's The Ritz, set in a gay bathhouse, co-starring Jack Weston and Rita Moreno. And also he played Divine's husband in the original movie version Hairspray. On the DVD commentary for Hairspray, John Waters talks about how method actor Jerry behaved like Divine's husband even when the cameras weren't rolling. What an ally!
posted by larrybob at 4:36 PM on May 12 [14 favorites]

I used to see him and Anne Meara walking together in my neighborhood from time to time. I always wanted to rush up and fangirl all over them, but you don't do that in New York. But I always felt like I knew them, the same way you sort of know the guy at the dog run who comes once in a while, or the cashier at the Duane Reade... when she died I never saw either of them again, but I assume he moved to LA full time by that point. I keep trawling youtube for bits they did together, because they were really an amazing team.

posted by Mchelly at 4:38 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]

God, that scene in "The Puffy Shirt" where he's at dinner talking at George about his silver dollar collection just destroys me every time.

posted by Ragged Richard at 4:46 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]

Mchelly, you might like this New Yorker remembrance: A Few Words About Jerry Stiller, by Thomas Beller.

"After Anne died, in 2015, Jerry began to spend time sitting outside the building in a chair, a kind of mayoral position, greeting people on their way in or out and also the occasional passersby, some of whom would recognize him and respond with excitement."
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:53 PM on May 12 [9 favorites]

What a life, and such an amazing, lasting love. RIP

posted by dbiedny at 5:06 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]

posted by droplet at 6:01 PM on May 12

posted by allthinky at 6:44 PM on May 12

posted by dannyboybell at 6:54 PM on May 12

Whatever you do, don't miss Jerry Stiller visiting the real Costanza home in Astoria in 2010. It's a surprisingly moving little video.
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 7:01 PM on May 12 [5 favorites]

Been a fan since childhood. I absolutely loved that he got a big, long second act.

I was just watching a YouTube video of Seinfeld outtakes earlier today, before I heard the news. It’s amazing anyone ever got through a scene with him without breaking.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:13 PM on May 12 [1 favorite]

posted by WaterAndPixels at 7:40 PM on May 12

posted by kinnakeet at 7:45 PM on May 12

Whatever you do, don't miss Jerry Stiller visiting the real Costanza home in Astoria in 2010 . It's a surprisingly moving little video.

Oh my god. The couple he visits...this was just so wonderful. Thank you thank you.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:02 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]

posted by tiny frying pan at 8:27 PM on May 12

posted by bryon at 9:28 PM on May 12

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posted by Pendragon at 11:33 PM on May 12

posted by Joe in Australia at 2:37 AM on May 13

posted by sammyo at 5:18 AM on May 13

Rest in serenity, Mr. Stiller.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 5:29 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]

posted by camyram at 5:32 AM on May 13

posted by ZeusHumms at 10:06 AM on May 13

posted by coppertop at 10:20 AM on May 13

But I wish to put in a word about him playing off Matthau in Pelham One Two Three.
Mattthau as Lt. Garber, talking with Stiller as Lt Patrone, most of their scenes shot separate as they talk over the phone.
Patrone: "I just figured out how they're going to get away."
Garber: "I'm listening."
Patrone: "They're going to fly the train to Cuba."
Garber: "You're a sick man, Rico."
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 10:30 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]

posted by mazola at 10:44 AM on May 13

My dad died almost a year ago, and we going back and forth on text about what should be inscribed on the granite plaque at the columbarium where his ashes were to be kept.

My beloved father was an alcoholic in recovery for over 40 years, and a huge AA guy for decades. Also, a church guy. Also, the funniest guy I've ever met in my life.

Trying to break the "mood" on text with my devastated brother and mom, I jokingly suggested we put "SERENITY NOW" on the plaque, knowing my bro would get a kick out of it (as my dad surely would have).

Um, so yeah, Mom didn't get the joke and guess what.

. RIP Jerry. You were beloved.
posted by tristeza at 1:18 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]

posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 4:21 PM on May 13

posted by detachd at 7:01 PM on May 13

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