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|Also Known As:||Died:|
|Born:||September 20, 1929||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Brooklyn, New York, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor comedian writer playwright|
As one-half of the country's most renowned and universally beloved comedy duos, Anne Meara charmed millions with her hilarious and sometimes absurd banter with real-life husband Jerry Stiller. Known by many simply as Stiller and Meara, the pair incorporated their personal anecdotes - from relationship squabbles, to personality differences and cultural clashes - into their decades-long comedy act. Stiller and Meara's routine garnered national attention after numerous appearances on the seminal variety series "The Ed Sullivan Show" (CBS, 1948-1971). Apart from her husband, Meara also established a successful career as a hardworking actress, appearing in feature films and making memorable guest appearances on shows such as "The King of Queens" (CBS, 1998-2007) and "Sex and the City" (HBO, 1998-2004) throughout her career. Dedicated not only to her craft, but also to her family - raising their son, blockbuster movie star Ben Stiller - Meara shared her life with the world and made it collectively laugh, a feat that could only be accomplished by a true comedy legend.
Born on Sept. 20, 1929 in Brooklyn, NY to Irish-born immigrants, Anne Meara began her entertainment career doing off-Broadway theater. She met the love of her life, fellow actor-writer Jerry Stiller, when they were members of the improvisational acting group The Compass Players (which was later renamed The Second City). The pair married in September 1954 and soon established themselves as the comedy team Stiller and Meara. Their act consisted mainly of true-to-life scenarios, from relationship quirks to cultural differences, which were often improvised and spoken with a thick Brooklyn accent. Meara was the loopy, Irish-Catholic counterpart to Stiller, a sarcastic and tightly wound Jewish husband. They made the rounds in the city's most famous clubs, including The Village Gate and The Blue Angel, and worked alongside the likes of Bill Cosby and Joan Rivers. Stiller and Meara finally reached mainstream status when they performed their comedy act on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1963, going on to make over 30 appearances on the legendary variety show.
In the early 1960s, Stiller and Meara formed a production company that allowed them to produce, write, and act in various TV and radio advertisements. One of their most famous projects was a series of radio commercials for Blue Nun Wine. When the popularity of variety shows began declining in the '70s, the comedy team's career also stalled. Meara, who made her TV acting debut on the short-lived soap "The Greatest Gift" (NBC, 1954-55), landed roles independent of her husband. She acted in her first feature film in the 1970 comedy "The Out of Towners" starring Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis, followed by "Lovers and Other Strangers" that same year. Meara showcased her dramatic side in the Nazi-themed thriller "The Boys from Brazil" (1976) and played a feisty educator in "Fame" (1980). She made frequent guest appearances on hit television shows, including "The Love Boat" (ABC, 1977-1986) and "Rhoda" (CBS, 1974-78), where she played a divorced airplane stewardess who befriends the spunky title character (Valerie Harper). Meara's success as a television actress continued throughout the next two decades, with recurring roles on "ALF" (NBC, 1986-1990) and "Murphy Brown" (CBS, 1988-1998). The comedy team of Stiller and Meara briefly reunited for a failed TV series titled "The Stiller and Meara Show," about the deputy mayor of New York and his wife, a commercial actress.
The Stiller and Meara union also resulted in two children who grew up following in their parents' footsteps. Their youngest child Ben, born in 1965, began his career as a stand-up comedian and became an international superstar, thanks to numerous hit comedy features he wrote, directed or starred in, including "Meet the Parents" (2000), "Zoolander" (2001), and "Night at the Museum" (2006). Her son's rise to fame reignited Meara's own acting career, and he often cast her and Stiller in several films, often as his character's colorful and bickering parents. She returned to series television with a recurring role on "The King of Queens" as the love interest of Stiller's character, and on HBO's acclaimed "Sex and the City," where she played the aging and passive-aggressive mother-in-law of Manhattan lawyer Miranda (Cynthia Nixon). In 2010, she reunited with her husband for a Web series titled "Stiller & Meara." Produced by their son Ben's Red Hour Digital Company, the series featured hilarious and candid interviews with Meara and Stiller on a variety of topics - from the homeless to controversial rapper Kanye West.
By Marc Cuenco
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