Ben Stiller announced the news of his father's death in a tweet early Monday morning. "I’m sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes," he tweeted. "He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad." During a decades-long comedy career, Jerry Stiller was best known for playing the cranky and combustible Frank Costanza on 26 episodes of Seinfeld, a role that earned him his only Emmy nomination. Jerry Stiller replaced another actor, John Randolph, in the role, and was told by co-creator Larry David to play Frank Costanza as "very meek" opposite his high-pitched wife, played by Estelle Harris. But Jerry Stiller didn't, however, think that was the right approach for Frank Costanza. “For about three days, we did that same sort of thing, and I felt more and more restricted," he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Finally, before we were supposed to shoot, I just took it upon myself. When (a hysterical) Estelle said, ‘You’re the one who ruined (George's) life, you were never there for him, you were a lousy role model, you weren’t a father,’ I (returned fire) out of desperation, ‘You’re the one who killed him off, you slept in bed with him, you made him sandwiches, you never treated him like a real object.’ And the place broke up!” Long before Seinfeld, Jerry Stiller and wife Anne Meara, who died in 2015, formed the comedy team Stiller & Meara. "While Stiller was 5-foot-4 and Jewish, Meara was lanky, two inches taller and an Irish-American who was raised Catholic. Needing a comedy bit as a stint on The Ed Sullivan Show loomed, Stiller decided to use their dissimilarities for what would become their signature routine, playing the characters Hershey Horowitz and Mary Elizabeth Doyle," explains The Hollywood Reporter's Mike Barnes. Immediately after Seinfeld, Stiller starred on The King of Queens, from 1998 to 2007, playing Arthur Spooner, the irascible basement-dwelling father of Leah Remini's character and father-in-law of Kevin James' Doug. In recent years, Stiller lent his voice to the Disney Channel series Fish Hooks and played a judge on The Good Wife.
TOPICS: Jerry Stiller, The King of Queens, Seinfeld, Anne Meara, Ben Stiller, Obits, Retro TV, Stiller & Meara