Gerald Isaac Stiller famously known as Jerry Stiller is an American comedian and actor. He is best known for his portrayal of the character Frank Costanza in the NBC sitcom ‘Seinfeld’. He is also known for his perfectly timed dialogues and his thick New York accent. His role as Arthur Spooner on the CBS comedy series ‘The King of Queens’ earned him worldwide appreciation. He also appeared in a number of television movies such as ‘The Other Woman’ and ‘How Murray Saved Christmas’. Apart from performing comedies on television, he has also appeared in many movies. Some of his movies are The Ritz, Nadine, Hot Pursuit, Zoolander and Zoolander 2. He is the father of actor, comedian Ben Stiller and actress Amy Stiller. Jerry has starred in several movies with his children throughout their respective careers. Famous for his unique yelling, angry, and loud acting style, Stiller worked predominantly in the comedy genre with his wife, Anne Meara. The two were known for their comic timing and performed together in several television shows. Throughout his career, Jerry has played several neurotic and comic characters.
Childhood & Early Life
Gerald Isaac “Jerry” Stiller was born on June 8, 1927 in Unity Hospital, Brooklyn, New York, in a Jewish family to Bella and William Stiller. His father was a bus driver.
Jerry’s paternal grandparents are from Galicia, Spain; they later immigrated to the U.S. His mother is from Poland.
He has three younger siblings- Arnold Stiller, Maxine Stiller, and Doreen Stiller.
As a kid, he lived in the East New York Neighborhood and Williamsburg, and later moved to the Lower East Side.
He attended the Seward Park High School and got a major in Drama at Syracuse University. He got a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Drama.
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In 1953, Jerry formed a group which he thought was the best trio of Shakespearean clowns and appeared in Phoenix Theater production of Coriolanus.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Jerry and his wife Meara formed a comedy duo and appeared on ‘The Ed Sullivan’s Show’. They were a successful team and made several television appearances.
Though the comedy duo’s craze seemed to fade gradually, they continued to appear on radio.
They hosted the HBO Sneak Previews which described the upcoming shows for the month from 1979-1982.
In 1986, the duo started their own sitcom, ‘The Stiller and Meara Show’ which didn’t do quite well and wasn’t a successful venture.
From 1993 to 1998, Jerry appeared on ‘Seinfeld’, a sitcom about the ups and downs of a stand-up comedian’s life in New York, playing the role of a short-tempered Frank Costanza and won multiple awards for the performance.
He played the lead role of Schlomo in the 1997 American film ‘Camp Stories’. The movie takes a comic look at the Jewish summer camp in the 1950s.
Jerry is still known for his role as Sam alongside Anne Meara, his reel and real wife in the movie ‘A Fish in the Bathtub’. The movie showed the relation between a couple who share a 40-year-old marriage with both of them squabbling over the tiniest of issues.
Jerry was cast as the father of Carrie Heffernan, in the sitcom ‘The King of Queens’. He played the role of Arthur Spooner from 1998 to 2007.
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In 2001, he appeared in Zoolander, along with his son Ben Stiller. He later appeared in the second installment of the film in 2016 titled Zoolander 2.
In the following years, he made several appearances in the form of cameos.
He starred in many movies with his son Ben Stiller and wife Anne Meara. Some of them were ‘Highway to Hell’, ‘The Heartbreak Kid’, ‘Heavyweights’, among others.
In 2010, the couple appeared on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart. He also voiced ‘Crashbox’, the children’s educational show. In the same year, they began a web series on Yahoo to discuss current topics.
Jerry made his film debut in the 1970 film ‘Lovers and Other Strangers’. He was cast alongside Richard Castellano, Gig Young, Anne Jackson, and Anne Meara.
He played the role of Carmine Vespucci in the American film ‘The Ritz’ which was based on the play written by Terrence McNally. He was also a part of the cast of the original play.
Later, he starred in the ’86 movie ‘Seize the Day’ alongside Robin Williams. This was a drama film based on the novel of the same name by Saul Bellow.
He was a part of the romantic comedy movie ‘Hairspray’, where he played Wilbur Turnblad, father to the leading character, Tracy. He portrayed a funny, enthusiastic and motivating father.
Simon & Schuster published Jerry’s memoir, ‘Married to Laughter: A Love Story’ featuring Anne Meara.
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He also wrote the foreword to the book Festivus by Allen Salkin.
Jerry is well-known for his portrayal of the short-tempered Frank Costanza, father of George in the NBC comedy sitcom ‘Seinfeld’.
He was known for his five-minute show known as ‘Take Five with Stiller and Meara’along with wife Anne Meara in 1977-78.
He is also a spokesperson for ‘Xfinity’.
Awards & Achievements
Jerry was nominated for an Emmy in 1997, as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for ‘Seinfeld’.
For his portrayal of Frank Costanza, in the same year, he won the American Comedy Award for Funniest Male Guest Appearance on TV.
In 2000, He was named as The King of Brooklyn and his wife, Meara was named The Queen of Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Festival.
In 2007, Jerry and wife Meara had a joint star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Jerry was married to Anne Meara from 1954 till her death on 23 May 2015.
Anne Meara converted to Judaism after her marriage to Jerry. She was of Irish ancestry.
He has two children with Anne Meara. They are actors Ben Stiller and Amy Stiller.
Jerry has two grandchildren, Ella Olivia Stiller and Quinlin Dempsey Stiller. They are children are of Ben Stiller and his wife Christine Taylor.
He was a part of the Tau Delta Phi Fraternity.
He has appeared 11 times in movies with his son, Ben Stiller.