Comedy actress Anne Meara, who rose to fame as the witty half of the duo “Stiller & Meara” and mother to another actor Ben Stiller, passed away over the weekend from natural causes.
She was 85 years old.
She and her husband Jerry Stiller were married for 61 long years. They were were a dynamic pair off-stage as they were working together on sketches and stand-up acts.
Anne is survived by Jerry as well as their children Ben and Amy, and their grandchildren.
“The Stiller family is deeply saddened to share the beloved Anne Meara passed away last night at the age of 85. She is survived by her husband and partner in life Jerry Stiller. The two were married for 61 years and worked together almost as long. Anne’s memory lives on in the hearts of daughter Amy, son Ben, her grandchildren, her extended family and friends, and the millions she entertained as an actress, writer and comedienne,” read a statement by the family released to the public.
She and her husband appeared as a comedy duo on The Ed Sullivan Show and other programs of the 1960s. They created caricatures of their own selves as their characters, “uber-Jewish guy” Hershey Horowitz and “uber-Irish girl” Mary Elizabeth Doyle.
“I was glad he got us to be a comedy team, because then we weren’t just waiting for the agent to call. We traveled with our own stuff,” she once said of their act.
They met during a casting call in New York in 1953 and married the year after with Meara converting to Judaism.
They became a popular act together during the 1960s but eventually decided to pursue their careers independently or risk losing their marriage.
“I didn’t know where the act ended and our marriage began,” Meara once said in an interview with People magazine in 1977.
“I love Anne, but if I had depended on her in my professional life … I would have lost her as a wife,” said Jerry in the same publication.
Jerry would eventually land roles in popular shows Seinfeld and King of Queens while Anne became a regular guest in game shows and starred in shows like Rhoda, The Love Boat, ALF, Sex and the City, and King of Queens.
In 2007, the couple earned their joint star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“Thank you so much for all the kind words about Anne. All of us in our family feel so lucky to have had her in our lives,” wrote her son Ben on Twitter.