Ben Stiller Remembers Mom Anne Meara on Twitter

26 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Actress Anne Meara, wife of Jerry Stiller, dies.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actress and comedian Anne Meara, whose comic work with husband Jerry Stiller helped launch a 60-year career in film and TV, has died.

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 Stiller family released a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday describing Jerry Stiller as Meara’s “husband and partner in life.” “The two were married for 61 years and worked together almost as long,” the statement said. 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.

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). 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. 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.” Meara 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.” She won a Writers Guild Award for co-writing the 1983 TV movie “The Other Woman.” The family statement said: “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.”

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. 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.

You think, during the Renaissance, people called it ‘The Renaissance’?” The husband-and-wife act was born of desperation shortly after the birth of their first child, Amy, in 1961. 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. Miranda, an arguably unsympathetic character, then takes Meara’s character home and gently bathes her. “I said to Michael [Patrick King], ‘I’m not getting in a g–d—- bathtub,” Meara said in a 2005 interview with the Archive of American Television. “I’m not taking my clothes off.’ He says, ‘You don’t have to worry. 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.

In one routine, which Stiller considered “a breakthrough,” they played two single people (a Jewish lad and Catholic gal) matched by a computer — and discovering what, in those days, were the sort of problematic differences they had surmounted in real life: Then quickly the pair realize they have plenty in common: They live on the same New York City block, and both love to dance. Sure, the first of May is the universal safe planting date, but in a cooler spring, you need to adjust your efforts to a week or two later (or in a warm spring you may plant earlier).

In 2010, the pair reunited on-screen for “Stiller & Meara: A Show About Everything,” a chatty Web series produced by their son and shot in their longtime home on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Their off-the-cuff banter was informed by their lifetime partnership: Mearer: “A person who is very bright, and figured a lot of people want to share the mundane, miserable moments of their lives with other people: ‘I’m your friend, and I just came back from going to the john.

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. We tend to plant during the daytime because it’s convenient for us, but shoving a seedling out into the open world under the noonday sun is a recipe for shock.

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