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, who gained fame as half of the comedy team Stiller & Meara and went on to star in TV and film, has died. Anne Meara, the Emmy- and Tony-nominated comedian long paired personally and professionally with Jerry Stiller and the mother of actor-director Ben Stiller, died Saturday, her husband and son told the Associated Press.Here is the statement that the family released: “The Stiller family is deeply saddened to share the beloved Anne Meara passed away last night at the age of 85.

Meara also appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, including a longtime role on “All My Children” and recurring roles on “Rhoda,” ”Sex and the City” and “The King of Queens.” She was twice nominated for an Emmy Award for her supporting role on “Archie Bunker’s Place,” along with three other Emmy nods, most recently in 1997 for her guest-starring role on “Homocide.” Although Meara had in fact converted to Judaism when the couple got married, Stiller & Meara’s material centered on the differences in their ethnic backgrounds, epitomized by their signature “Hershey Horowitz/Mary Elizabeth Doyle” routines. But Meara was also a serious dramatic actress who received a 1993 Tony nomination for best featured actress in a play for her work in a production of Eugene O’Neill’s harrowing “Anna Christie” that starred Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson — and she also penned a couple of plays that made it to Off Broadway.

The film’s problem is that she does it so well.” Also in 1997 Meara gave a memorable performance on the smallscreen, on a two-part episode of “Homicide: Life on the Street,” in which she played a schoolteacher in a very tense hostage situation, drawing her fourth Emmy nomination. In 1984 Meara shared a Writers Guild Award for penning the telepic “The Other Woman,” in which Hal Linden played a widower who toys with the notion of romance with his daughter’s sexy roommate but ultimately finds love with a woman played by Meara. Meara recurred as Mary Finnegan (the mother of Doug’s nerdy friend Spence, played by Patton Oswalt) on “The King of Queens,” where Stiller was a series regular from 1998-2007 as the much-married Arthur Spooner, the father of Leah Remini’s Carrie Heffernan; in the final season of the series, the two characters married. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” afforded Meara the opportunity to give two powerful guest performances. Stiller and Meara starred in Joan Micklin Silver’s 1999 feature “A Fish in the Bathtub,” about a couple who have been bickering for decades, finally prompting the wife to move in with their son, played by Mark Ruffalo.

The hit 2001 comedy “Zoolander,” directed by and starring Ben Stiller as the air-headed model of the title, was a true family affair, with father Jerry playing Zoolander’s manager, Maury Ballstein. In Ben’s first feature directorial effort, 1994’s “Reality Bites,” Meara and sister Amy both had roles, but Jerry was unaccountably absent except in the credits, where he was thanked. In 1998’s “Southie,” starring Donnie Wahlberg in the story of hoods in Boston’s famous working-class Irish neighborhood, Meara played the Wahlberg character’s ailing mother “with warm grit,” according to the Boston Phoenix.

She made her Broadway debut in 1956 in a Michael Redgrave-directed revival of Turgenev’s “A Month in the Country.” The same year she appeared in a revival of Brecht’s “The Good Woman of Setzuan” that also featured Jerry Stiller in a small role. Meara wrote and starred in the hit Off Broadway play “Afterplay” (1995), which also starred, at various times, Jerry Stiller, Rita Moreno, Rue McClanahan and Barbara Barrie.

In 2011 Meara and Conchata Farrell were brought in as replacements in an Off Broadway staging of “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” the Nora and Delia Ephron play based on Ilene Beckerman’s book. The actress made her screen debut in 1954 on NBC series “The Greatest Gift.” She also appeared on an Arthur Penn-directed “The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse” adaptation of Robert Alan Arthur’s “Man on the Mountaintop” and, in 1959, in an ABC adaptation of “Ninotchka” that starred Maria Schell. In addition to son Ben and his wife, actress Christine Taylor, as well as daughter Amy, survivors include Jerry, whom Meara married in 1954, and grandchildren.

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