“During the Great Depression, when people laughed their worries disappeared. Audiences loved these funny men. I decided to become one.” – Jerry Stiller
One of America’s finest television comics will celebrate a milestone birthday on June 8th. The icon Jerry Stiller turns 90 and also commemorates a 65-year career of entertaining audiences across the globe.
First gaining prominence as part of the husband and wife comedy team, “Stiller and Meara”, Jerry and his late wife Anne Meara (1929-2015), performed numerous comic skits and routines throughout the 1960s and 1970s. They appeared on a variety of TV programs including The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.
It is perhaps his career revival in the 1990s and early 2000s however that has created the fondest memories for fans. In 1993 he was cast as Frank Costanza, the ill-tempered, eccentric and outlandish father of George Costanza on the hit sitcom “Seinfeld”. The role allowed a new generation to see his comedic genius and revel in memorable scenarios involving George and the rest of the “Seinfeld” gang. Among the most noteworthy Frank Costanza, moments include the holiday of “Festivus”, his stress relieving technique of “Serenity Now” and his insistence on having bananas kept out of his Jello amongst many, many others. He nabbed an Emmy nomination in the process!
The so-called “Seinfeld” curse didn’t follow him fortunately as he was immediately cast in a new sitcom upon the finale in 1998. In the “King of Queens”, Stiller played an extension of the Frank Costanza character, but one far more eccentric, loud, and bizarre, but ultimately loveable. The role of Arthur Spooner provided yet another excellent vehicle for the now 70-year-old to showcase his fine abilities. Whether it was quarreling over ketchup with Doug (Kevin James), or absurdly claiming that the film “Arthur” owed him royalties, the character in many ways exceeded his work on “Seinfeld”.
As he celebrates this milestone birthday and career length, we at Before the Cyborgs salute and offer our congratulations to Jerry Stiller for a life well lived and his lengthy contributions to performance art. His legacy lives on through son Ben Stiller, but also through the innumerable scenes and characters, he’s embodied throughout his acting life. Thanks, Jerry, and Happy Birthday!!