Seinfeld Actor Jerry Stiller Is Dead

Father of Ben Stiller also was in a long-running comedy team with wife Anne Meara
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 11, 2020 5:28 AM CDT
Comedian Jerry Stiller Dead at 92
In this 2007 photo, actor Jerry Stiller arrives at the Broadway opening of Manhattan Theatre Club's "Mauritius," in New York.   (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff, File)

Comedian Jerry Stiller, the father of Ben Stiller who played the high-strung Frank Costanza on Seinfeld, has died at 92, reports USA Today. Ben Stiller announced the news on Twitter, saying his dad died of natural causes. "He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed," wrote Ben Stiller. "Love you Dad." The late Anne Meara was his comedy sidekick for years. Per the AP, Jerry Stiller was a multi-talented performer who appeared in an assortment of movies, playing Walter Matthau’s police sidekick in the thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and Divine’s husband Wilbur Turnblad in John Waters’ twisted comedy, Hairspray. He also wrote an autobiography, Married to Laughter, about his 50-plus year marriage to soul mate and comedic cohort Meara, who died in 2015.

And his myriad television spots included everything from Murder, She Wrote to Law & Order—along with 36 appearances alongside Meara on The Ed Sullivan Show. Stiller, although a supporting player on Seinfeld, created some of the show’s most enduring moments: co-creator and model for the “bro,” a brassiere for men; a Korean War cook who inflicted food poisoning on his entire unit; an ever-simmering salesman controlling his explosive temper with the shouted mantra, “Serenity now!” Stiller earned an 1997 Emmy nomination for his indelible Seinfeld performance. He was initially told to play the role of Frank Costanza, father of George, as a milquetoast husband with an overbearing wife, played by Estelle Harris. But the character wasn’t working—until Stiller suggested his reincarnation as an over-the-top crank who matched his wife scream for scream. (More obituary stories.)

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