Ben Stiller exudes wackiness in most of his movie roles, as he just cannot help it. The comedian comes by the trait quite naturally by being the son of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. He was literally conceived during the heyday of his parents’ stint on The Ed Sullivan Show back in the ’60s. The second child of the husband and wife comedy act, Stiller joined older sister Amy and followed in the family’s footsteps of show business while traveling the country as a child.
Stiller is the product of his parents’ combined heritage, religion and unified pattern of entertainment through comedy. He really had no other choice, but it was still his own decision to pursue acting, directing and entertaining. Growing up in New York and tagging along with his parents from a young age, Stiller developed an eye for the camera from both sides, and he liked it.
Movie goers have grown accustomed to Stiller’s face staring in wonderment and confusion as he has aptly portrayed characters in Meet the Parents, There’s Something about Mary, Zoolander, Along Came Polly and Night at the Museum. His string of movies have been high in comedy and his bank account has done quite well.
Diverting a bit from his usual fare, Stiller both directed and is starring in the newly released film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Taken from James Thurber’s short story of 1939, the remake originally starring Danny Kaye, is turning heads upon Stiller in a new way. Stiller’s character has a fantasy life, created by dreams of success beyond the ho-hum everyday existence and is both inspiring and adventuresome. Including backdrops from around the globe, the new movie is sure to stir emotion and yearning for better things with its viewers.
Stiller encompasses a unique appreciation from his upbringing within a dual religious family. His mother Anne was of Irish Catholic descent and continued her celebration of Christmas with the family even after marriage to Stiller’s father Jerry, of the Jewish faith. Both Hanukkah and Christmas were huge holidays in the Stiller family, so who could ask for more when it came to gifts and reason for celebration?
Recognizing diversity, Stiller was most likely influenced by his father Jerry’s character on Seinfeld by the celebration of the invented Festivus Day. The fake, non-denominational holiday has been heralded as an all-inclusive way to celebrate in a different way from mass society commercialism. Whether invented by Jerry Stiller or not, his character Frank Costanza surely stirred thinking and the trickle down effect of the stunt most likely affected his own thinking and that of his son Ben in a way.
The younger Stiller has been blessed with talented parents and a rich heritage in the entertainment industry. His jump-start into fame could have been endorsed long ago by the great Ed Sullivan and corralled into achievement by his dedicated, yet wacky parents. The banter both on stage and in the household provided Stiller with an upbringing not common amongst most actors. He went with it and in a big way to his own success.
Stiller was born into a family of entertainers, no choice of his own, but as he continues to enjoy the limelight of his success and recent Hollywood Star of Fame status, his work is becoming more unexpected and refreshing. He is proving to be a serious actor with works of meaning in his new film portraying Walter Mitty. Stiller has graduated on his own clock, despite the heredity of wacky comedy he was born with. Diverse in style and upbringing, Stiller is slowly uniting audiences in thinking for themselves along the way.
By: Roanne H. FitzGibbon