Anne Meara of Stiller & Meara fame has passed away on Saturday at age 85 of natural causes. She and her husband, actor and comedian Jerry Stiller, 87, had been married for 61 years, and Meara appeared in many other T.V. shows and movies even after the break-up of the Stiller & Meara act she did for years with her husband. She was also the mother of actor and comedian, Ben Stiller, 49, and starred with him in Zoolander from 2001 and the 2006 movie Night at the Museum.
Anne Meara was a co-star in the T.V. series, The King of Queens, as well as in the HBO series Sex and The City as Mary Brady from 1998 to 2004. Her The King of Queens co-star, Leah Remini, called Meara “a great woman,” and added that “Your kind of Chutzpah will be greatly missed.”
The red-haired, Irish-Catholic Anne Meara, born in Brooklyn on September 20, 1929, was considered to be by some a mismatch for her husband, Jerry Stiller, who was Jewish, from Manhattan’s Lower East Side, two years older and 2 inches shorter than Meara, at 5 feet 4 inches. However, the pair were united by their strong love for each other, and their differences later became humorous material for their comedy act.
Meara and Stiller got married in 1954. Meara later recounted that “Nobody was thrilled when we got married, absolutely nobody.” But, their families accepted that they were in love with each other. Shortly afterward, she converted to Judaism. They both performed in improv groups, though Meara was down on comedians.
She stated in an interview “Growing up, I loved drama and fantasies. I hated the Marx Brothers. I took all that confusion seriously.”
Performing in the improv groups was not paying the bills, especially after the birth of their first child, Amy, in 1961. When they got a shot at being on The Ed Sullivan Show, CBS’ top-rated Sunday night variety show, they made the most of their opportunity and created a husband-and-wife comedy act based on their many differences.
Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara called themselves Hershey Horowitz and Mary Elizabeth Doyle. They were a big hit, incorporating their real-life experiences into their comedy routines, and racked up 36 appearances on the show, eventually calling themselves Stiller & Meara.
in 1963, Stiller & Meara had yet further success with their debut LP, recorded live at The Hungry I. They also became the spokespeople for Blue Nun wine on the radio, in a series of humorous commercials promoting the product.
Though the act was dissolved in the 1970s, Stiller and Meara continued acting, sometimes separately but often, together, on sitcoms like The King of Queens. Their characters in that series eventually got married during the final season of that series.
During the 1970s, Meara appeared on sitcoms like Rhoda and she was the title character, an attorney, in the short-lived series Kate McShane. In the 1980s, she had a recurring role on Archie Bunker’s Place as the sarcastic cook Veronica Rooney and she was in the movie, Fame, in 1980. Meara also appeared in the sitcom, ALF, and on Murphy Brown. She had a recurring role in the soap opera, All My Children, as Peggy Moody, from 1993-98.
Other movies that four-time Emmy Award nominee Anne Meara had roles in include The Out-of-Towners in 1970, The Boys From Brazil from 1978, Awakenings in 1990, and Reality Bites, directed by her son, Ben Stiller, in 1994. She and her husband reunited their old act in a web series in 2010 called Stiller & Meara: A Show About Everything. In 1993, she received a Tony Award nomination for playing Marthy Owen in a revival of the Eugene O’Neill play, “Anna Christie.”
Actress and comedienne, Anne Meara, passed away on Saturday night, May 23, at the age of 85. Along with her husband, Jerry Stiller, Meara is also survived by her son, Ben Stiller, daughter, Amy Stiller, several grandchildren, and extended family members and friends. During her long and rich life, she entertained millions of fans around the world.
Written By Douglas Cobb
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