Gerald Isaac "Jerry" Stiller (born June 8, 1927) is an American comedian and actor.
He spent many years in the comedy team Stiller and Meara with his wife Anne Meara. Stiller and Meara are the parents of actor Ben Stiller (with whom he co-starred in the movies Zoolander, Heavyweights, Hot Pursuit and The Heartbreak Kid) and actress Amy Stiller.
Jerry is best known for his recurring role as Frank Costanza on the television series Seinfeld and his supporting role as Arthur Spooner on the television series The King of Queens.
The eldest of four children, Stiller was born in Brooklyn, New York City, the son of Bella (née Citrin) and William Stiller, a bus driver. His family was Jewish; his paternal grandparents immigrated from Galicia, in Eastern Europe, and his mother was born in Poland. He lived in the Williamsburg and East New York neighborhoods before his family moved to the Lower East Side, where he attended Seward Park High School. A drama major at Syracuse University, he gained a Bachelor's degreein Speech and Drama in 1950.
In the 1953, Phoenix Theater production of Coriolanus (produced by John Houseman), Jerry Stiller (along with Gene Saks and Jack Klugman) formed "the best trio of Shakespearian clowns that [he] had ever seen on any stage."
Stiller has two children, who followed in his own footsteps, actor/comedian Ben Stiller and actress Amy Stiller.
Stiller is a member of the National Fraternity Tau Delta Phi.
Stiller and Meara
The comedy team Stiller and Meara, composed of Stiller and wife Anne Meara, was successful in the 1960s and 1970s, with numerous appearances on television variety programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show. Their career declined as variety series gradually disappeared, but they subsequently forged a career in radio commercials, notably the campaign for Blue Nun wine. They also starred in their own syndicated five-minute sketch comedy show Take Five with Stiller and Meara, in 1977–78. From 1979 to 1982 Stiller and Meara hosted HBO Sneak Previews, a half-hour show produced monthly on which they described the movies and programs to be featured in the coming month. They would also do a few brief comedy sketches between show discussions. The duo's own 1986 TV sitcom, The Stiller and Meara Show, in which Stiller played the deputy mayor of New York City and Meara portrayed his wife, a TV commercial actress, was unsuccessful.
Stiller in New York City in November 2005
Jerry Stiller played the irascible Frank Costanza, the father of George Costanza in the sitcom Seinfeld from 1993 to 1998. He was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 1997 and won the American Comedy Award for Funniest Male Guest Appearance in a TV Series for his portrayal of Frank Costanza.
The King of Queens
After Seinfeld's run ended, Stiller had planned on retiring, but Kevin James asked him to join the cast of The King of Queens. James, who played the leading role of Doug Heffernan, had told Stiller that he needed him in order to have a successful show. Stiller obliged, and played the role of Arthur Spooner, the always scheming (and again, irascible) father of Carrie Heffernan in the situation comedy from 1998 until 2007.
Stiller has said this role tested his acting ability more than any others have and that, before being a part of King of Queens, he only saw himself as a "decent actor".
Stiller played himself in filmed skits, opening and closing Canadian rock band Rush's 30th Anniversary Tour concerts in 2004. These appearances are seen on the band's DVD R30 Live In Frankfurt, released in 2005. Stiller later appeared in cameos in later in-concert films for the band's 2008 Snakes & Arrows Tour.
Stiller appeared on Dick Clark's $10,000 Pyramid show as himself in the 70's, but actual footage of this appearance was later twisted into an episode of King of Queens to make it appear that his character was a contestant on the show, and he was bitter as he never received his parting gift, a lifetime supply of "Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco Treat".
In the late 1990s, Stiller appeared in a series of Nike television commercials as the ghost of deceased Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi.
Stiller has appeared in various motion pictures, most notably Zoolander (2001) and Secret of the Andes (1999) with Nancy Allen.
On February 9, 2007, Stiller and his wife were honored with a joint star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
On October 28, 2010, Stiller and his wife appeared on an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Stiller voiced the announcer on the children's educational show Crashbox
Starting in October 2010, Stiller and his wife began starring in a Yahoo web series called Stiller & Meara from Red Hour Digital, in which they discuss current topics. Each episode lasts about two minutes.
Stiller wrote the foreword to the book Festivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us (ISBN 0-446-69674-9) by Allen Salkin, released on October 26, 2005.
His memoir, Married to Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara, was published in 2000.