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Anne Meara

( b. Sep 20, 1929 Brooklyn, New York, USA - d. May 23, 2015 New York, New York, USA ) Female
Relations: Mother of Ben Stiller
Wife of Jerry Stiller (1954 - 2015) her death

Anne Meara 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.

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.

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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.

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.

Source: The New York Times obituary

ProductionsDate of Productions
Anna Christie
[Play, Drama, Revival]
  • Also Starring: Anne Meara [Marthy Owen]
Jan 14, 1993 - Feb 28, 1993
Eastern Standard
[Play, Original]
  • Performer: Anne Meara [May Logan]
Jan 05, 1989 - Mar 25, 1989
Miss Lonelyhearts
[Play, Original]
  • Performer: Anne Meara [Sick-of-it-All]
Oct 03, 1957 - Oct 12, 1957
The Good Woman of Setzuan
[Play, Original]
  • Performer: Anne Meara [Niece]
Dec 18, 1956 - Jan 06, 1957
A Month in the Country
[Play, Comedy, Revival]
  • Performer: Anne Meara [Katia]
Apr 03, 1956 - May 13, 1956
1993 Tony Award® Best Featured Actress in a Play
Anna Christie [nominee]
Also Starring: Anne Meara
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