Actress and comedienne Anne Meara, wife of Jerry Stiller (who she had been in a comedy team with for decades) and mother to Ben and Amy Stiller, has died. She was 85.
The news was broken by Ben and Jerry Stiller, who gave no information on Meara’s cause of death at this time.
Meara had a career which transcended audiences and sometimes even genres. She appeared in films as diverse as the original Out of Towners in 1970 (sharing a short scene with the stars of that film, Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis); the highly underrated Lovers and Other Strangers released the same year; The Boys from Brazil with Lawrence Olivier in 1978; Fame in 1980, and also had appeared in many of her son Ben’s films, like Reality Bites, Zoolander, and Night at the Museum.
On television Meara also ran the gamut, garnering praise for her comedic work on the Mary Tyler Moore Show spinoff Rhoda and as the crusty waitress on the All in the Family spinoff Archie Bunker’s Place. A storyline on the latter show in which her character (named Veronica Rooney) was fighting alcoholism, showcased a dramatic dimension to Meara’s vast and vivid crafts. She also did stints as the grandmother on the domestic alien program ALF in the 1980s and in recent times had done appearances on Sex and the City, King of Queens, and Law and Order.
With her bright red hair, Irish-Brooklyn strut, complete with tough as nails alpha woman style and a voice that was a few notches higher than Fran Drescher’s equally East Coast vocal drone, Anne Meara was a comedic and dramatic presence in Hollywood that will not and should not be soon forgotten. She and her husband Jerry Stiller, best known to recent generations as George Costanza’s father on Seinfeld and Carrie Heffernan’s live-in dad on King Of Queens, had celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2014. From the hilarious work she did with her husband, to all that followed on her own, to her stage stints and even teaching and tutoring next generations about film techniques and scene studying, Anne Meara was one of the better and brighter figures to ever come out of and influence Hollywood. She will be dearly missed by those who enjoyed her work for so many decades and will continue to in her glorious and glowing memory.