To the public at large, Jerry Stiller is best known as the husband and comedy partner of actress/director Anne Meara, and as the father of comedian Ben Stiller. For those addicted to the NBC sitcom Seinfeld, Stiller will never be anyone else than Frank Costanza, the eternally kvetching father of born-loser George Costanza (Jason Alexander). While Stiller would be the first to welcome recognition on these terms, to acknowledge him for the above-mentioned reasons alone would be grossly unfair. A stage performer from the age of 10, Stiller majored in drama at the University of Syracuse, then took to the road in a touring company of Peter Pan. Honing his comic timing to perfection under the tutelage of revue director Billy Barnes, Stiller chose to concentrate his laughmaking skills in the Classics, specifically Shakespeare. He made his off-Broadway debut in a 1953 production of Coriolanus, and subsequently paid homage to the Bard of Avon as a member of such prestigious troupes as the Stratford (Connecticut) Shakespeare Festival and Joseph Papp's Shakespeare in the Park. Stiller made his Broadway bow in 1975 as ill-tempered gangster Carmine Vespucci in Terence McNally's The Ritz, a part he recreated in the 1976 film version. Among his many other film credits are Lovers and Other Strangers (1970), Hairspray (1988) and the made-for-television Seize the Day (1987). The actor's series-TV resumé includes the roles of Barney Dickerson in The Paul Lynde Show (1972), Gus Duzik in Joe and Sons (1975) and Sid Wilbur in Tattinger's (1988). He also co-starred with wife Anne Meara in the syndicated Take Five with Stiller and Meara (1977), and provided voiceovers for the animated Linus the Lionhearted (1964) and the multipart Ken Burns TV special Baseball (1994). Jerry Stiller has been honored with the Radio Advertising Bureau's Voice of Imagery Award for his persuasive radio and TV spots on behalf of the Public Broadcasting System.
Notable later roles included an extended run on the hit TV series The King of Queens starting in 1998, as well as appearances in son Ben's 2001 male model comedy Zoolander, and the 2007 musical Hairspray. In 2000 Stiller received a Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word Album for the audio version of his autobiographical book "Married to Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara" and three years after receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with Meara in 2007, Stiller and his wife launched the YahooWeb series Stiller & Meara, in which the pair discuss current events from their living room. Their son, Ben, produces the segments.
~ Hal Erickson, Rovi