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Jerry Stiller, 'Seinfeld' and 'The King of Queens' legendary actor and comedian, dead at 92


Jerry Stiller, the legendary actor and comedian known best for his roles on "Seinfeld" and "The King of Queens," died on Monday of natural causes, according to his son and actor, Ben Stiller. He was 92 years old.


"I’m sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes. 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," his son tweeted.

Stiller started his career in the 1950's, and would do so with his wife Anne Meara. In the 1990's, his career would have a resurgence with his character in the TV show "Seinfeld," where he would play Frank Costanza -- the father of the infamous George Costanza.


Not only was he the father of George Constanza, who was known to be high strung towards his son (and in general), but he would also bully his television son which provided plenty of comedy to the TV audience. In the No. 1 program, some of his famous moments would be his Festivus celebration and his phrase of "Serenity now!" In 1997, Stiller would earn a Emmy nomination for his work on "Seinfeld."

Before he was hired for "Seinfeld," Stiller was out of work and actually wasn't the hit TV show's first choice to be Frank Costanza, the father of a neurotic George, who was played by Jason Alexander.


“My manager had retired,” Stiller said. “I was close to 70 years old, and had nowhere to go.”


Also on "Seinfeld," Stiller's character is famous for inventing "bro," or "manssiere," which is a brassiere for men. Another episode that sticks out for "Seinfeld" fans is when Frank Costanza was a Korean War cook, and after giving his entire unit food poisoning, he was hesitant to ever cook again.


When "Seinfeld" was off of the air, Stiller then became a co-star on another hit television show, "The King of Queens." His character would be Arthur Spooner, the father to Leah Remini's character of Carrie Heffernan, a role that lasted from 1998-2007. The star of the show was comedian Kevin James, who played Doug Heffernan, Arthur's son-in-law.


Stiller is also an author, writing an autobiography titled "Married to Laughter," about the marriage between him and his wife that lasted over 50 years. Meara died in 2015. In the 1960's, Stiller and Meara were listed as a top comedy act, and would make 36 appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show."


Stiller was also a star on the big screen, appearing in the hit comedy film "Zoolander" in 2001, which was directed by his son, Ben, who also starred in the movie. Jerry Stiller would play Maury Ballstein, the manager of Zoolander.


Attending college at Syracuse University, Stiller would graduate with a drama degree, and he would do this after serving in the U.S. military during World War II. After getting his degree, he would move to New York City and that would be the official launching of his career. While in New York, he would be involved briefly in Shakespearean theater, making $55/week with Jack Klugman in "Coriolanus."


Though a ball of excitement as an actor, Stiller was actually much quieter and reflective in real life, though the comedy remained with him both as a person and actor. Stiller would be the son of a bus driver and housewife while growing up in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, and did so during the Great Depression. Stiller's original influence to be an actor came at the age of eight when his father took him to see "A Night at the Opera," a comedy classic that starred the Marx Brothers.

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© 2020 Andrew Powell/The Powell Times