A comedy duo and a lesser-known sister: Inside the star-studded Stiller family.

On Monday, May 11, Jerry Stiller – the father of actor Ben Stiller, and the infamous on-screen father of Seinfeld‘s George Costanza – died at the age of 92.

Ben Stiller announced the news on Twitter, saying his dad had died “from natural causes” and recalling his love of family.

“He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed.”

Jerry’s legacy will live on through his hilarious comedic partnerships, including with his wife Anne Meara, and through his children Amy and Ben.

Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.

Jerry and Anne in 2003. Image: AAP.

Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara were aspiring young actors when they met in 1953, The New York Times obituary of Meara, who passed away at 85 in 2015, noted.

They married in 1955 and began working together in 1961, using their marriage as a source of material.

"Jerry started us being a comedy team," Meara told the Times in 2008. "He always thought I would be a great comedy partner. At that time in my life, I disdained comedians."

Within a year, they were a much-loved comedy duo, performing on national shows like The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.

They also had two children, daughter Amy in 1961 and son Ben in 1965.

In a 1977 interview with People, they explained why they pushed the brakes on the act in 1970.

"I love Anne, but if I had depended on her in my professional life, I would have lost her as a wife," Jerry explained.

"I didn't know where the act ended and our marriage began," Anne added.

Years later, they starred in their own syndicated five-minute comedy sketch show, Take Five with Stiller and Meara, and hosted HBO Sneak Previews.


They also had successful solo careers; Anne was nominated for four Emmy awards, and Jerry one, but they would still come together whenever possible to star in sitcoms.

Jerry had a long and varied career, but his most memorable role is as Frank Costanza, the hothead father of George in Seinfeld.

jerry stiller seinfeld
Jerry as Frank Costanza in Seinfeld. Image: NBC.

"I'll never forget, on the first day of the shoot in front of the audience, Julia Louis [Dreyfus], Larry [David], Michael Richards, and the whole cast... surrounded me, wishing me well. And they were rooting for me. They were protecting me from the fear, 'cause this was something.

"And from that day on, it was the best years of my life as an actor," he said in an interview with the Television Academy in 2005.

After 61 years of marriage, Anne died in 2015 at the age of 85, after a stroke.

"I miss her," Jerry said in an interview later that year, according to Country Living. "There were no walls between us in any way. We both knew what the other was thinking even when we weren't listening."

Just short of four years later, Jerry also passed away "of natural causes".

Amy Stiller.

Amy Stiller is an actress and comedian, just like the rest of her family.

She's her brother Ben's senior by four years, and has been acting just as long as he was.

Being the children of Jerry and Anne means they were around comedy and television sets for most of their lives, leading to an early start in their own careers, but Amy has spoken about being a struggling actor unlike the rest of her family.

She has waited on tables and worked in retail to bring money in between her small acting roles.

In 2018, she starred in Just Trust, a one-woman show that told the story of being "the only non-famous person in a very famous family".


Amy has also starred in a number of her brother's movies, with roles in DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, Little Fockers and Zoolander.

Ben Stiller.

Comedy runs through Ben Stiller's blood.

It was almost inevitable the actor and comedian, who has written, starred in, directed or produced more than 50 films including The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Zoolander, pursued a career in comedy and film given the successful careers of his parents.

He has spoken about his non-traditional childhood, which saw him visit TV and film sets very young.

"It wasn't the typical family setup," he recalled. "We got to stay up late and go to TV studios. It was like this fun fantasyland. But we had no idea how hard they [his parents] worked."

He then became one of the most recognisable faces of late 90s/early 2000s comedy films, starring in films such as There's Something About Mary, Meet the Parents, Zoolander, Along Came Polly, Starsky & Hutch, and Dodgeball.

In May 2000, Ben married actress Christine Taylor, best known for playing Marcia Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie, whom he met while filming the pilot for TV show Heat Vision and Jack.

Image: Getty.

They appeared in the first of many movies together a year later with Zoolander, and welcomed their first child, daughter Ella Stiller, in April 2002.

In 2005, their second child, son Quinlin, was born in their home city of New York.

In 2016, Ben said he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2014, but thanks to early detection he received a cancer-free status three months later, after surgery.

"It came out of the blue. I had no idea… At first, I didn't know what was going to happen. It just stopped everything in your life because you can't plan for a movie because you don't know what's going to happen," he said in an interview with The Howard Stern Show.

Earlier in 2016, he told Parade Magazine about the toll of losing his mother Anne in 2015.

"It affects me constantly. You know, you're going through your life, everything is great and then like, Pow! She's not here. It's hard for me… Obviously, my dad is a huge person in my life. I love him. But my mum was the person that I most looked up to for her point of view, her humour," he said.

In 2017, Ben and wife Christine announced their separation after 17 years of marriage.

"With tremendous love and respect for each other, and the 18 years we spent together as a couple, we have made the decision to separate. Our priority will continue to be raising our children as devoted parents and the closest of friends. We kindly ask that the media respect our privacy at this time," the couple said in a joint statement.

Despite the breakup, the pair continued to have a close relationship, even attending the 2019 Emmys together.

Hours after announcing the death of his father on May 11 local time, Ben returned to Twitter to thank his followers for their kind words and tributes.

"Thanks so much for the incredible outpouring of love and appreciation for Jerry. I know how much it would mean to him."

Feature image: AAP.

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