Actress and comedian Anne Meara dies

26 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Actress Anne Meara, mother of Ben Stiller, dies at 85.

New York-born actress and comedian Anne Meara, known for her opposites-attract comedy routine with husband Jerry Stiller, died over the weekend, her family said on Sunday. “Anne’s memory lives on in the hearts of daughter Amy, son Ben, her grandchildren, her extended family and friends, and the millions she entertained as an actress, writer and comedienne,” a statement released by the Stiller clan reads.

No matter where they went, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara could charm just about anyone, and if they couldn’t, they usually had a witty retort at the ready. The couple performed as Stiller & Meara on The Ed Sullivan Show and other programmes in the 1960s and won awards for the radio and TV commercials they made together.

Meara also appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, including a long-time role on All My Children and recurring appearances on Rhoda, Alf, Sex and the City, and The King of Queens. Meara and Stiller, who met in 1953 at an agent’s office and married a few months later, worked together in the Compass Players comedy troupe, a precursor to the Second City organization, before forming their own duo. She was twice nominated for an Emmy Award for her supporting role on Archie Bunker’s Place, along with two other Emmy nods — most recently in 1997 for her guest-starring role on Homicide. Stiller offered to take Meara out for coffee, and rather than picking up the check, Meara asked him to pilfer the silverware. “I lived in the Village and my roommate, Joyce Arbuckle and me, we needed another set of silverware,” Meara explained when she and Stiller appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in 2012. By the 1960s, they had become a popular comedy duo on American television, making 36 appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Their act included skits such as an interview with the biblical Jonah after his encounter with the whale and parodies of TV commercials.

Much of their humor was marriage-based and focused on height – Stiller was 5-foot-4 (1.62 meters), Meara was taller – and ethnicity – he was Jewish, she was of Irish heritage. “Our marriage has lasted because we have the same feelings of insecurity about being an actor. She made her off-Broadway debut in 1971 in John Guare’s award-winning play “The House of Blue Leaves.” A quarter-century later, she made her off-Broadway bow as a playwright with her comedy-drama, “After-Play.” Meara was an aspiring 23-year-old actress in 1953 when she responded to a “cattle call” by a New York agent casting for summer stock. Much of Meara and Stiller’s early humor was rooted in the ways that they made an odd couple: She was tall and Irish Catholic, and he was short and Jewish.

The couple had an old-fashioned appeal not unlike that of Burns and Allen, but Stiller and Meara were thick into the 1950s Beat Generation, an edgy, innovative arts scene based in New York’s Greenwich Village, where they had an apartment. For all its advantages, the computer still managed to pair Meara’s obviously Catholic Mary Elizabeth Doyle with Stiller’s very Jewish Hershey Horowitz.

Meara had recurring roles on “Rhoda,” “Kate McShane,” “Archie Bunker’s Place,” “All My Children” and “ALF.” In more recent years, Meara appeared in “The King of Queens” opposite her husband, and “Night at the Museum” with her son, Ben. Ben Stiller made his first movie with a Super 8 camera Jerry bought him, and would later go on to “direct” his parents in their Yahoo Web series, “Stiller and Meara,” where they would discuss everything from Lady Gaga and “Jersey Shore” to Jerry’s lying about Meara’s father to get the New York Times to publish his obituary. She brought humanity, grace and compassion to her portrayal of an elderly woman suffering from dementia when she played Mary Brady, Steve Brady’s mother and Miranda Hobbes’s (Cynthia Nixon) mother-in-law on “Sex and the City.” Writer and director Michael Patrick King wrote Mary with Meara in mind to play her. It wasn’t the first time Meara acted opposite Nixon — in 1988, Nixon played Juliet opposite Meara’s nurse in a production of “Romeo and Juliet” at the Public Theater in New York. We’re shooting you from the shoulders.’” Not only was King able to assuage her concerns, he brought her around full-circle. “I thought it was a terrific scene,” she said. “They did more with great economy.

Meara interrupted. “I never would have mentioned the COBRA bill if I knew you were going to go on and on and list all your wonderful civil rights things,” Meara said. “Because it’s embarassing.” She leaned forward, toward the camera and the interviewer, Gary Rutkowski. “Cut it out.

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