Ben Stiller Posts Vintage Photo of His Mom: ‘She Was an Extraordinary Person’

27 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

9 Celebrity Twitter Tributes to Comedy Legend Anne Meara.

Since the weekend, thousands of the actor’s fans – and many celebrity friends and acquaintances – have wished Ben, and his father Jerry Stiller, well in their time of bereavement. LOS ANGELES Anne Meara, was a loopy, lovable comedian who launched a standup career with husband Jerry Stiller in the 1950s and found success as an actress in films, on TV and the stage. Jerry Stiller and son Ben Stiller released a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday describing Jerry Stiller as Meara’s “husband and partner in life.” Born in Brooklyn on Sept. 20, 1929, she was a red-haired, Irish-Catholic girl who struck a vivid contrast to Stiller, a Jewish guy from Manhattan’s Lower East Side who was two years older and four inches shorter. She received four Emmy Award nominations, was nominated for a Tony Award, and won a Writer’s Guild Award for “The Other Woman.” Her son, actor Ben Stiller, wrote on his Twitter account: “Thank you so much for all the kind words about Anne. Set in a chic restaurant of the era (probably Orso), “After-Play” centers on two aging showbiz couples who, after attending the play everybody in New York is talking about, spend the evening drinking martinis and opening old wounds.

They logged 36 appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and were a successful team in Las Vegas, major nightclubs, on records and in commercials (scoring big for Blue Nun wine with their sketches on radio). When I interviewed her, Meara told me the play was the result of a bout of stage fright she experienced in a 1993 Broadway production of “Anna Christie.” “I just couldn’t do it anymore,” she said. “I would arrive at the theater two hours before curtain and sit in my dressing room terrified that I was going to screw up. So I decided to focus on playwriting, and after about a year I completed ‘After-Play.’ ” Rue McClanahan and Barbara Barrie were in the original cast, but when McClanahan had to leave to work on a movie, Meara, with the help of her therapist, mustered the courage to take over the role. “Personal issues I never dealt with in my childhood,” she said.

The festival also showed some of Meara’s films over the years, including Greg Mottola’s “The Daytrippers,” which screened during the second annual Nantucket Film Festival in 1997. Then she added: “The death of my mother by her own hand when I was 11 — I think that had a lot to do with it.” Things seemed fine in the Meara household until her mother had a hysterectomy. Then she spiraled into a depression — “which today could be taken care of with therapy or Prozac,” Meara said — and killed herself. “If you have any questions of your parents, you’d better ask them now,” she told me. “Because sooner or later they are going to end up in the boneyard, and you’ll spend the rest of your life in the dark.” 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. I picked up her cheque for 10 cents and thought, ‘This is a girl I’d like to hang out with.’ ” But this was a mixed marriage — referring to their respective families, Meara said, “Nobody was thrilled when we got married, absolutely nobody.” But they accepted it, she added with perfect comic timing: “Nobody sat shiva.” Despite her theatre background, Meara, with her bright eyes and cheeky smile, was a quick study as a comedian when she and Stiller performed in improv groups.

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.

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