Tony-Nominated Comedian Anne Meara Dead at 85

Obituaries   Tony-Nominated Comedian Anne Meara Dead at 85
 
Anne Meara, actress, playwright and half of the comedy team of Stiller & Meara, died May 23 at age 85. The cause of death was not immediately reported.
Anne Meara
Anne Meara Photo by Joseph Marzullo

She was married to her comedy partner Jerry Stiller, 87, for 61 years. Their son, Ben Stiller, followed them into show business. The heart of Stiller & Meara’s early humor drew on the culture clash of their relationship; he was Jewish and she was an Irish-American gentile. They played characters called Hershey Horowitz and Mary Elizabeth Doyle.

Meara’s career took her to comedy clubs, nightclubs, TV variety shows (including “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Merv Griffin Show”), the Second City comedy troupe, commercials, movies and recording studios for comedy LPs.

Meara appeared on Broadway five times. Despite her comedy background most of her Broadway appearances were in serious roles, and most were without Stiller. She appeared first as Katia in A Month in the Country in 1956, The Good Woman of Setzuan that same year, and in Miss Lonelyhearts for a little over a week in 1957; then not until 1989 with Eastern Standard, and finally as Marthy in a revival of Anna Christie in 1993, opposite Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson. She earned a Tony nomination for the latter role.

Meara also made several Off-Broadway appearances. She earned an Obie Award for her 1955 performances in Mädchen in Uniform, created the role of Bunny in the original 1971 production of House of Blue Leaves,, and authored and starred in the 1995 comedy After-Play in which Stiller appeared during its run.

In recent years, however, Stiller and Meara were best known for their recurring roles together on the TV sitcom “King of Queens." Stiller also played George Costanza’s father on “Seinfeld.”

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