Anne Meara (1929 - 2015)



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Anne Meara Biography & Family History

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at Brooklyn,
New York City, NY United States


at Manhattan,
New York City, NY US

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Anne Meara
Born September 20, 1929 in Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died May 23, 2015 in Manhattan, New York, USA
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)
Comedienne Anna Meara, with her husband Jerry Stiller, were members of the improvisational company, the Compass Players, which later became The Second City Theater. They performed as a duo under the name "Stiller and Meara" and after some time, became regulars on Ed Sullivan's Show, Anne went on to provide her talent to roles on television series, notably as Sally Gallagher, Rhoda (1974) best friend; the character appeared in the first half of season 3. Meara's work on the series won a Golden Globe. She also costarred with Carroll O'Connor on the early 1980s hit sitcom Archie Bunker's Place (1979), (in which she played Veronica Rooney). In later years, Meara had a recurring role on the HBO television series Sex and the City (1998). She played Mary Brady.

Spouse (1)
Jerry Stiller (14 September 1954 - 23 May 2015 - 51 years until her death) ( 2 children)
Half of the mixed marriage (Jewish/Irish) comedy team of Stiller and Meara active during the 1960s and 1970s, with Jerry Stiller.
Had two children with Jerry Stiller: Ben Stiller and Amy Stiller, both successful actors.
Had two grandchildren: Ella Olivia Stiller and Quinlin Dempsey Stiller (children of Ben Stiller and wife Christine Taylor).
Was nominated for Broadway's 1993 Tony Award as Best Actress (Featured Role - Play) for a revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie".
Wrote and starred in the hit off-Broadway play "Afterplay" (1995), which also starred, at various times, Jerry Stiller, Rita Moreno, Rue McClanahan and Barbara Barrie.
Parents were Edward Joseph (1893-1980) and Mary Dempsey Meara (1894-1941). Her mother committed suicide when Anne was 12 years old.
Mother-in-law of actress Christine Taylor (wife of son Ben Stiller).
She and husband Jerry Stiller appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) as Stiller and Meara every two months for a total of 36 times. Won an Obie Award for the 1955 off-Broadway production "Mädchen in Uniform".
Although Anne converted to Judaism upon their marriage, the main source of Stiller and Meara's material was the differences in their ethnic backgrounds, epitomized by their famous "Hershey Horowitz/Mary Elizabeth Doyle" routines.
Born and raised an Irish Catholic, she converted to Judaism after marrying Jerry Stiller.
Was named as "Queen of Brooklyn" at the Welcome Back to Brooklyn Festival in 2000. Her husband, Jerry Stiller, was named "King of Brooklyn" at the same festival.
Had a recurring role as Veronica Olchin on The King of Queens (1998), which also starred her husband Jerry Stiller as Arthur Spooner, with whom Veronica had a love interest.
Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara were awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7018 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on February 9, 2007.
Anne Meara passed away on May 23, 2015, four months away from what would have been her 86th birthday on September 20. She studied drama at HB Studio in Greenwich Village, New York City.
Anne was cremated. Her ashes were given to her widower.


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1929 - In the year that Anne Meara was born, on October 29th (Black Tuesday), the stock market crashed in the United States. Billions of dollars were lost and some investors committed suicide as a result, having lost their fortunes. This ushered in the 12 year, worldwide Great Depression.

1951 - By the time she was 22 years old, on February 27th, the 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution (which limited the number of terms a president may serve to two) was ratified by 36 states, making it a part of the U.S. Constitution. The Amendment was both a reaction to the 4 term Roosevelt presidency and also the recognition of a long-standing tradition in American politics.

1952 - Anne was 23 years old when on February 6th, George VI of England died from a coronary thrombosis and complications due to lung cancer. His eldest daughter, age 25, immediately ascended the throne as Elizabeth II and her coronation was on June 2 1953.

1976 - At the age of 47 years old, Anne was alive when The United States celebrated the Bicentennial of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It was a year long celebration, with the biggest events taking place on July 4th.

1978 - By the time she was 49 years old, on July 25th, Louise Brown, the first "test-tube baby", was born at Oldham Hospital in London. Louise was conceived through IVF (in vitro fertilization), a controversial and experimental procedure at the time.

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Anne Meara, Comedian and Actress, Dies at 85
A Comedian Who Stood in a Range of Spotlights
By Peter Keepnews
May 24, 2015
Anne Meara, who was half of one of the most successful male-female comedy teams of all time and who went on to enjoy a long and diverse career as an actress and, late in life, a playwright, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 85.
Her death was confirmed by her husband and longtime comedy partner, Jerry Stiller, and her son, the actor and director Ben Stiller.
Ms. Meara was an experienced but relatively unknown stage actress when she joined forces with Jerry Stiller as members of the Compass Players, an improvisational theater troupe that evolved into Second City, and later on their own as Stiller and Meara. (Another male-female team, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, also got their start with the Compass Players.) Stiller and Meara began performing in New York nightclubs in 1961 and within a year had become a national phenomenon.
But even during the act’s heyday, Ms. Meara also pursued a separate career as an actress. She had already amassed an impressive list of stage credits before beginning her comedy career, including an Obie Award-winning performance in “Mädchen in Uniform” in 1955 and roles in several Shakespeare in the Park productions. (She was a witch in “Macbeth” in 1957.)
She later appeared both on and off Broadway, in films, and especially on television, where she was seen on a wide range of series, from “Rhoda” and “Archie Bunker’s Place” on CBS to “Sex and the City” and “Oz” on HBO.
A tall redhead with a brassy voice and a self-confident demeanor, Ms. Meara was a natural for comedy but frequently played dramatic parts as well. “Comedy, drama, it’s the same deal,” she said in an interview for the Archive of American Television in 2008. “You don’t really act differently; you just make adjustments.”
Anne Meara was born in Brooklyn on Sept. 20, 1929, and raised in Rockville Centre on Long Island. An only child, she was the daughter of Edward Meara, a lawyer, and the former Mary Dempsey. After studying for a year at the Dramatic Workshop at the New School in Manhattan, Anne began her career in summer stock in 1948.
She met Mr. Stiller in 1953 and married him soon after, but it would be some time before they began working as a team. The idea, they both agreed, was his; she did not think of herself as a comedian, but because work was scarce she reluctantly agreed.
“Jerry started us being a comedy team,” she said in 2008. “He always thought I would be a great comedy partner. At that time in my life, I disdained comedians.”
In the 1960s Stiller and Meara were regular guests on the variety and talk shows of Ed Sullivan and many others, and performed in nightclubs all over the country. In the 1970s their voices were heard on radio commercials for Blue Nun wine and other products.
Ms. Meara and Mr. Stiller’s relationship was the basis for their best-known comedy routines, which told the continuing story of Hershey Horowitz and Mary Elizabeth Doyle, a short Jewish man and a tall Catholic woman who had virtually nothing in common except their love for each other.
On their first date, arranged by a computer, Hershey and Mary Elizabeth were surprised to learn that they lived on the same block but knew none of the same people. (There was one significant difference between the real-life couple and the comedy version: Ms. Meara, though born and raised Roman Catholic, converted to Judaism in 1961.)
By the end of the decade, Mr. Stiller and Ms. Meara were both concentrating on their individual careers, but they continued to perform together from time to time.
She made several guest appearances on the sitcom “The King of Queens,” on which Mr. Stiller (who had also memorably played Frank Costanza on “Seinfeld”) was a regular; her character married his in the series finale in 2007.
Jerry Stiller and Ms. Meara appeared together on "The King of Queens" in 2003.
In 2010 they began appearing in a series of web videos produced by their son in which they sat on a couch and talked, to the camera and occasionally to each other, about a variety of topics.
In 1975 Ms. Meara starred in “Kate McShane,” an hourl ong drama about a lawyer that, despite generally good reviews, was canceled after two months. “They never really made her a full-blooded woman,” she said of her character in 2008. “She had no love life; she was really a nun.”
That was her only starring role on television, but she kept busy in a range of supporting roles on the small screen well into the 21st century. In addition to her prodigious prime-time work, she appeared occasionally on the soap opera “All My Children” in the 1990s. During her career, she was nominated for four Emmy Awards and won a Writers Guild Award as a co-writer of “The Other Woman,” a 1983 TV movie.
She had memorable character parts in movies as well, including a teacher in “Fame” (1980) and a personnel manager in “Reality Bites” (1994), Ben Stiller’s feature-film directorial debut. Onstage, she was in the original Off Broadway production of John Guare’s dark comedy “The House of Blue Leaves” in 1971 — her son had a small role in the 1986 Broadway revival and the lead role in a second revival, in 2011 — and she was nominated for a Tony for “Anna Christie” in 1993.
In addition to her husband and her son, Ms. Meara is survived by a daughter, the actress and comedian Amy Stiller, and two grandchildren.
Ms. Meara branched out into writing in 1995, when her comedy “After-Play” was presented Off Broadway. Her “Down the Garden Paths” had a brief Off Broadway run in 2000, with a cast headed by Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson.
“After-Play” has been produced by a number of regional theaters, sometimes with both Ms. Meara and Mr. Stiller in the cast. But neither of them was in the original cast, and she did not conceive it as a Stiller and Meara vehicle.
“I wanted to do something on my own,” she told The New York Times in 1995. “It’s the same way he feels good about doing ‘Seinfeld.’ The irony is, I feel we’re closer personally than when we were out going to nightclubs.”


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Wonderful comedienne and actress. The wife and life-long partner of Jerry Stiller and the mother of Ben Stiller.
Jun 12, 2018 · Reply
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