Jerry Stiller, comedian and Seinfeld actor, dies at 92

Comedy veteran Jerry Stiller, who started his career with his wife Anne Meara in the 1950s and resurfaced four decades later as Frank Costanza, hysterical and stressed out on the television show. Seinfeld, Died at 92, announced his son Ben Stiller on Monday.

He died of natural causes, his son – himself a comedy star – said in a tweet.

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Jerry Stiller was a multi-talented artist who appeared in a variety of films, playing Walter Matthau's police assistant in the thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and Divine's husband, Wilbur Turnblad, in John Waters' twisted comedy Hair spray.

He also wrote an autobiography, Married to laughter, About his more than 50-year marriage to soul mate and comedy group Meara, who died in 2015. And his numerous television commercials included since Murder she wrote for Law and order– along with 36 appearances alongside Meara in Ed Sullivan Show.

Career revival in Seinfeld

Stiller, although a support player in Seinfeld, Created some of the most enduring moments of the Emmy winning series: co-creator and model for "bro", a bra for men; a Korean War cook who caused food poisoning throughout his unit; a salesman always on fire controlling his explosive temper with the shouted mantra: "Serenity now!"

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Stiller won a 1997 Emmy nomination for his indelible Seinfeld performance. In a 2005 Esquire interview, Stiller recalled that he was unemployed and was not the first choice for the role of Frank Costanza, father of the neurotic George of Jason Alexander.

"My manager has retired," he said. "I was almost 70 and had nowhere to go."

Initially, he was instructed to play the role of a milquetoast husband to an authoritarian wife, Estelle, played by Estelle Harris. But the character wasn't working – until Stiller suggested his reincarnation as an exaggerated crank that matched his wife's screaming scream.

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Grew up in Brooklyn from the Depression era

He started the career of the septuagenarian, earning a place to play Vince Lombardi in a Nike commercial and the role of another exaggerated father in the long-running comedy. King of Queens.

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Ben Stiller, left, and his father, Jerry Stiller, are seen together at a Help Haiti benefit in New York in 2011. (Charles Sykes / Associated Press)

While he was known as a crazy on-screen father, Stiller and his wife Meara raised two children at their longtime home on Manhattan's Upper West Side: daughter Amy, who became an actress, and son Ben, who became a writer , director. and actor in films like burned, There is something about Mary and Meet the parents.

He and Ben performed together in Shoeshine, Who was nominated for an Oscar in 1988 in the category of short subjects.

Stiller was considerably more quiet and reflective in person than in character – although just as funny. The son of a bus driver and housewife, Stiller grew up in Brooklyn during the Depression era. His inspiration to enter show business came at age 8, when his father took him to see the Marx brothers in the comedy classic. A night at the opera.

Years later, Stiller met Groucho Marx and thanked him.

Comedy duo formed with his wife, Anne Meara

Stiller graduated in theater from Syracuse University after serving in World War II and then went to New York City to start his career. There was a brief involvement in Shakespearean theater, including a $ 55 a week job with Jack Klugman in Coriolanus.

But his life and career took off after he met Meara in the spring of 1953. They were married that fall.

In this 2003 photo, Stiller poses with his wife, Anne Meara, on the set of The King of Queens in Culver City, California. (Stefano Paltera / Associated Press)

The seemingly incompatible pair – he is a short, stocky Jew from Brooklyn, she is a tall Irish Catholic from the suburbs of Long Island – also shared immediate chemistry on stage. They were soon appearing in Ed Sullivan Show and work clubs all over the country.

The duo also wrote and presented radio commercials, more memorable than a series of bits for a little-known wine called Blue Nun. The pair's ads increased sales by 500%. Ben Stiller recalled trips to California with his sister when his parents went west to make television appearances.

The couple began to appear as a team in dozens of film, theater and television productions. One was After-Play, A 1995 off-Broadway show, written by Meara. Stiller joined Seinfeld in 1993, and went on to King of Queens when the other Jerry & co. went off the air in 1998. He also appeared in Ben Stiller's parody on modeling, Zoolander, launched in 2001.

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