Jerry Stiller, star of Seinfeld and father of Ben Stiller, dies aged 92

Comedian who formed a hit duo with his Irish-American wife has died of natural causes

Jerry Stiller with his son, Ben, in 2011. Photograph: Charles Sykes/AP Photo

Jerry Stiller with his son, Ben, in 2011. Photograph: Charles Sykes/AP Photo

 

The comedian Jerry Stiller has died at the age of 92. His death was announced on Monday on Twitter by his son, Ben Stiller, the actor, who called him “a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband”.

Jerry Stiller had a long career on stage and screen, often accompanied by his Irish-American wife, Anne Meara, with whom he formed a popular comedy act. They met in 1953, married the following year and regularly teamed up for improv sketches, performing in Las Vegas nightclubs and on The Ed Sullivan Show and other TV programmes, often in character as the squabbling spouses Mary Elizabeth Doyle and Hershey Horowitz, playing on their Irish Catholic and Jewish cultures. In 2010 they took their act online, performing from the front room of their New York apartment. Meara died in 2015.

Stiller was born in Brooklyn in 1927 and attended Seward Park high school, whose alumni included Tony Curtis and Zero Mostel. After decades of performing, he enjoyed a new streak of popularity when he was cast as the usually irate Frank Costanza, father of George Costanza, in the sitcom Seinfeld. He played the role from 1993 to 1998, and received an Emmy nomination in 1997. Next came a part in the TV show The King of Queens, playing another cantankerous dad, Arthur Spooner.

Away from comedy, Stiller appeared in the 1970s thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, as well as Murder She Wrote and Law and Order. He also appeared in a string of films with his son, including The Heartbreak Kid, Heavyweights, Hot Pursuit and Zoolander, where he played the gold-lamé-clad Maury Ballstein.

Stiller told the New York Post that he bought Ben a Super 8 film camera when he was 10. “I just wanted to get him off my back. He went down and started filming movies on the street with his friends.”

He is also survived by his daughter, the actor Amy Stiller. – Guardian, PA