Kevin James is paying tribute to Jerry Stiller, who co-starred with James on The King of Queens for all of the show's nine seasons. James, 55, shared a photo of him and Stiller smiling together for the camera. "One of the most kind, loving, and funny people to ever grace this earth," James captioned the sweet photo. "Thank you for so many incredible memories. I love you and miss you. Requiescat in pace."
Stiller appeared on The King of Queens as Arthur Spooner, Carrie Heffernan's father, for the show's duration from 1998 until 2007 — though James had to lure Stiller out of retirement to take the part. "He literally begged me to be in this show. He kissed me. He hugged me. He said, 'I can't do it without you," Stiller said during the show's final season. "I'm susceptible to praise." The role on the show — on which his wife Anne Meara guest-starred — turned out to be one Stiller came to appreciate. "This was an opportunity for me, for the first time, to test myself as an actor because I never saw myself as more than just a decent actor," he said.
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As previously reported, Stiller died of natural causes at the age of 92, his son, actor Ben Stiller, announced 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 Stiller'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 had several strokes. She was 85 at the time of her death. The couple, who shared son Ben and daughter Amy, launched their careers together following their marriage in 1954; the two performed together as Stiller & Meara on sketch shows throughout the 1960s, most notably, The Ed Sullivan Show, and worked nightclubs nationwide.
Stiller experienced a resurgence in fame through his recurring roles in King of Queens and Seinfeld, where he played Frank Costanza, George Costanza's over-the-top father. He told Esquire in 2005 that he was out of work and not the first choice for the role. "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.