After a 60-year career in film and TV, actress Anne Meara died in Manhattan on Saturday at the age of 85. Meara, who was one half of the wildly successful comedy team "Stiller and Meara" alongside her husband Jerry Stiller, was also the mother of Hollywood star Ben Stiller. The two Stiller men confirmed her death, but did not reveal its cause.
Meara was a relatively unknown aspiring "serious" actor when she teamed up with Jerry Stiller, whom she was dating at the time. Within a year of performing in New York nightclubs, "Stiller and Meara" became a national phenomenon, frequently appearing on variety shows.
In Stiller's autobiography "Married to Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara," the actor said they met at a casting call in New York in 1953. He asked her out for coffee, but she ordered him to steal the silverware in exchange for her paying her own. He wrote:
"I told myself, 'What am I getting myself into, hanging out with New York actresses? They're all crazy.'"
One of the couple's most beloved acts was what they called caricatures of themselves: Hershey Horowitz, an "uber-Jewish guy," and Mary Elizabeth Doyle, an "uber-Catholic girl." The video below is a sketch of an awkward meeting between two people who met through "computer dating," more commonly known as online dating today.
They married in 1954 and she converted to Judaism; later, they started their famous comedy team. They were together for 61 years until her death.
By the 1970s, they had an amicable professional split, ending their act to pursue individual careers. Meara went on to play hundreds of TV roles, including in "Sex and the City" and "The King of Queens." Among her accolades are a number of Emmy nominations and the Writers Guild Award, which she won for co-writing a 1983 TV movie called "The Other Woman."
Meara is survived by her husband, her children Ben and Amy Stiller and her grandchildren.