Jerry Stiller, 'Seinfeld' Actor and Ben Stiller's Father, Dead at 92

Comedy legend Jerry Stiller has died at 92, his son, actor Ben Stiller, confirmed early Monday morning. "I'm sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes," Ben wrote in a tweet. "He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad."

Jerry's death comes after he suffered a medical scare early last year and five years after he lost his wife, Anne Meara, in 2015 after she suffered multiple strokes. She was 85 at the time of her death. The couple shared son Ben and daughter Amy. Perhaps most famous for playing George Costanza's dad in Seinfeld, Jerry Stiller married Meara in 1954; the two performed together as Stiller & Meara on sketch shows throughout the 1960s, most notably, The Ed Sullivan Show. Jerry later wrote about their partnership and marriage in his autobiography, Married to Laughter.

jerry-stiller_getty-Mike Coppola : Contributor
(Photo: Mike Coppola / Contributor / Getty, Getty)

Stiller experienced a resurgence in fame through his recurring role in Seinfeld, as well as one on The King of Queens (on which Meara had a guest-starring role) for all of its nine seasons. During his run on Seinfeld, Stiller was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series.

In a 2005 Esquire interview, Stiller recalled that he was out of work and not the first choice for the role of Frank Costanza. "My manager had retired," he said. "I was close to 70 years old, and had nowhere to go." He was initially told the play the role as a milquetoast husband with an overbearing wife, Estelle — played by Estelle Harris — but the character wasn't working. That is, until Stiller suggested his reincarnation as an over-the-top crank who matched his wife scream for scream. After that, he landed a spot playing Vince Lombardi in a Nike commercial, then the role of another over-the-top dad in King of Queens.

The son of a bus driver and a housewife, Stiller grew up in Depression-era Brooklyn. His inspiration to enter show business came at age 8, when his father took him to see the Marx Brothers in A Night at the Opera. Years later, Stiller met Groucho Marx and thanked him.

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He earned a degree at Syracuse University after serving in World War II, then headed to New York City to launch his career, where he had a brief involvement in Shakespearean theater. But after he married Meara, both their careers took off, soon appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show and working nightclubs nationwide. They also wrote and performed radio commercials.

Stiller and Meara raised Ben and Amy in their longtime home on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Jerry and Ben performed together in Shoeshine, which was nominated for a 1988 Academy Award in the short subject category.