Actress Anne Meara, mom of Ben Stiller, dies at 85

25 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Actress Anne Meara, mom of Ben Stiller, dies.

LOS ANGELES — Actress and comedian Anne Meara, whose comic work with husband Jerry Stiller helped launch a 60-year career in film and TV, has died. Anne Meara, who became famous as half of one of the most successful male-female comedy teams of all time and went on to enjoy a long and diverse career as an actress and, late in life, a playwright, died on Saturday in Manhattan.

The couple performed as Stiller & Meara on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and other programs in the 1960s and won awards for the radio and TV commercials they made together. A demise of variety shows in the ’70s meant less work for the comedy team and they began performing separately, wrote Stanley/ Jerry Stiller, who published an autobiography in 2000 called “Married to Laughter,” has worked extensively in television. Meara also appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, including a longtime role on “All My Children” and recurring appearances on “Rhoda,” ”Alf,” ”Sex and the City” and “The King of Queens.” She shared the screen with her son in 2006’s “Night at the Museum.” Ms. Meara was an experienced but relatively unknown stage actress when she joined forces with Jerry Stiller, as members of the Compass Players, an improvisational theater troupe that evolved into Second City (where another male-female team, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, had gotten their start), and later on their own as Stiller and Meara. Meara was a natural for comedy but frequently played dramatic parts as well. “Comedy, drama, it’s the same deal,” she said in an interview for the Archive of American Television in 2008. “You don’t really act differently; you just make adjustments.” Anne Meara was born in Brooklyn on Sept. 20, 1929, and raised in Rockville Centre on Long Island.

Stiller’s relationship was the basis for their best-known comedy routines, which told the continuing story of Hershey Horowitz and Mary Elizabeth Doyle, a short Jewish man and a tall Catholic woman who had virtually nothing in common except their love for each other. In 2010 they began appearing in a series of web videos produced by their son in which they sat on a couch and talked, to the camera and occasionally to each other, about a variety of topics.

Meara starred in “Kate McShane,” an hourlong drama about a lawyer that, despite generally good reviews, was canceled after two months. “They never really made her a full-blooded woman,” she said of her character in 2008. “She had no love life; she was really a nun.” That was her only starring role on television, but she kept busy in a range of supporting roles on the small screen well into the 21st century. She had memorable character parts in movies as well, including a teacher in “Fame” (1980) and a personnel manager in “Reality Bites” (1994), Ben Stiller’s feature-film directorial debut. Onstage, she was in the original Off Broadway production of John Guare’s dark comedy “The House of Blue Leaves” in 1971 — her son had a small role in the 1986 Broadway revival and the lead role in a second revival, in 2011 — and she was nominated for a Tony for “Anna Christie” in 1993.

Her “Down the Garden Paths” had a brief Off Broadway run in 2000, with a cast headed by Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson. “After-Play” has been produced by a number of regional theaters, sometimes with both Ms.

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