Ben Stiller’s mother Anne Meara passed away on May 23 in Manhattan. She was 85 years old.
Anne had been married to Jerry Stiller since 1954, having met him as a young, struggling actress in New York.
It was his idea that they work as a comedy duo, initially with the Compass Players, an improv troupe which later grew into the Second City. By the early 60s, they were nationally known as “Stiller and Meara” and made regular appearances on talk and variety shows, such as Ed Sullivan, TV series and movies together.
Raised as a Roman Catholic, she later converted to Judaism, after marrying Stiller. Their comedy routines often revolved around the differences in their backgrounds.
In parallel to her comedy partnership, Meara continued to evolve as an actress, having already won an Obie for her role in “Mädchen in Uniform” in 1955, and appeared in on and off-Broadway productions, countless television shows and film roles. She was nominated for four Emmy awards, a Tony (in 1993 for “Anna Christie”) and won the WGA award in 1983 for co-writing “The Other Woman.” She later wrote the plays “After-Play” and “Down the Garden Path” for off-Broadway production.
Jerry and Anne received a star on the Hollywood Walk in Fame in 2007.
In 2010, Anne and Jerry appeared in 26 two-minute comedy shorts made for the Hulu by Ben Stiller’s production company Red Hour Pictures.
On Sunday, the family released this statement:
The Stiller family is deeply saddened to share the beloved Anne Meara passed away last night at the age of 85. She is survived by her husband and partner in life Jerry Stiller. The two were married for 61 years and worked together almost as long. 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.