Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Actor/Actress, Producer, Writer
Has Detailed Data (New)
Actress, Producer, Writer, Comedienne
Claim to Fame
The King of Queens
Anne Meara (September 20, 1929 – May 23, 2015) was an American actress and comedian. Along with her husband, Jerry Stiller, she was one-half of a prominent 1960s comedy team, Stiller and Meara. She was also featured on stage, television, in numerous films, and later became a playwright.
Ben Stiller (Son)
Full Name at Birth
Profile Bio Text
Anne Meara (September 20, 1929 – May 23, 2015) was an American actress and comedian. She and husband Jerry Stiller were a prominent 1960s comedy team, appearing as Stiller and Meara. She also appeared on stage, television, numerous films, and became a playwright.
During her career Meara was nominated for four Emmy Awards and won a Writers Guild Award as a co-writer for the TV movie, The Other Woman. She and Stiller are the parents of actor and filmmaker Ben Stiller (1965) and actress Amy Stiller (1961).
Meara was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of parents of Irish descent, Mary (née Dempsey) and Edward Joseph Meara, a lawyer. She was raised in Rockville Centre in Long Island, New York and was an only child. Her mother committed suicide when she was 11.
When she was eighteen she spent a year studying acting at the Dramatic Workshop at The New School in Manhattan. The following year, 1948, she began her career as an actress in summer stock.
Meara met actor-comedian Jerry Stiller in 1953 and they married the following year. Until he suggested it, she had never thought of doing comedy. "Jerry started us being a comedy team," she said. "He always thought I would be a great comedy partner." They joined the improvisational company The Compass Players (which later became The Second City), and after leaving, formed the comedy team of Stiller and Meara. In 1961 they were performing in nightclubs in New York, and by the following year were considered a "national phenomenon," writes the New York Times.
Their often-improvised comedy routines brought many of their real-life relationship foibles to live audiences. Their skits focused on domestic themes, as did Nichols and May, another comedy team during that period. "They were Nichols and May without the acid and with warmth," notes author Lawrence Epstein. They added a new twist to their comedy act, he adds, by sometimes playing up the fact that Stiller was Jewish and Meara was Catholic.
After some years honing the act, Stiller and Meara became regulars on The Ed Sullivan Show and other TV programs, including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Their career as a comedy team eventually declined, however, as variety shows gradually disappeared.
Television and film
During the 1970s, Meara and Stiller wrote and performed many radio commercials together for Blue Nun Wine. She had a recurring role on the sitcom Rhoda as airline stewardess Sally Gallagher, one of the title character's best friends. She also had a small role opposite Laurence Olivier in The Boys from Brazil (1978). In 1975 she starred in her own series Kate McShane on CBS, which she was nominated for an Emmy Award, but the series was cancelled after only 10 episodes.
Meara costarred with Carroll O'Connor and Martin Balsam in the early 1980s hit sitcom Archie Bunker's Place, which was a continuation of the influential 1970s sitcom All in the Family. She played the role of Veronica Rooney, the bar's cook, for the show's first three seasons (1979–1982). During that time, she acted in the movie Fame (1980), in which she played English teacher Elizabeth Sherwood. She also appeared as the grandmother in the TV series ALF in the late 1980s. Her own 1986 TV sitcom, The Stiller and Meara Show, in which Stiller played the deputy mayor of New York City and Meara portrayed his wife, a television commercial actress, was unsuccessful.
In 1995 she branched out to writing with the comedy, After-Play, which became an Off-Broadway production. More recently, she has had recurring roles on the television shows Sex and the City (as Mary Brady) and The King of Queens (as Veronica). In the 2004–05 season, she appeared in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
She was the consulting director of J.A.P. – The Jewish American Princesses of Comedy, a 2007 Off-Broadway production that features live stand-up routines by four female Jewish comics juxtaposed with the stories of legendary performers from the 1950s and 1960s: Totie Fields, Jean Carroll, Pearl Williams, Betty Walker and Belle Barth.
Starting in October 2010, Meara and her husband Jerry Stiller began starring in a Yahoo! web series called Stiller & Meara produced by Red Hour Digital, a production company owned by their son Ben Stiller.
She accepted a role in the Off-Broadway play Love, Loss, and What I Wore for an April 27 through May 29, 2011, run with Conchata Ferrell, AnnaLynne McCord, Minka Kelly and B. Smith. She continued actively developing the next generation as demonstrated by teaching a technique and scene study class at HB Studio up until her death.
Meara was raised a Roman Catholic, but converted to Reform Judaism six years after marrying Jerry Stiller. She insisted that she did not convert at Stiller's request, but because "Catholicism was dead to me." She took her conversion seriously and studied the Jewish faith in such depth that her Jewish-born husband quipped, "Being married to Anne has made me more Jewish." They discussed how they met and their early career during a guest appearance on the TV game show, What's My Line? in 1968.
Meara has written about her mother's death and her childhood experiences at Catholic boarding school.
Meara died on May 23, 2015, at the age of 85. She is survived by her husband of 61 years, Jerry Stiller, her son, actor Ben Stiller, her daughter, actress and comedian Amy Stiller, and two grandchildren.
Talent Agency (e.g. Modelling)
Innovative Artists N.Y.
(1990s) Radio: Commercials for Amalgamated Bank (w/Jerry Stiller), (1960s) Radio: Commercial, with husband Jerry Stiller, for Blue Nun wine
Edward Joseph Meara
Mary Dempsey Meara
Place of Death
Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
Cause of Death
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