Actor Jerry Stiller, known for roles in “Seinfeld” and “The King of Queens” and father to Ben Stiller, has died at 92.
Ben confirmed his father’s death early Monday morning, writing he “passed away from natural causes” on Twitter.
“He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years,” he added. “He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad.”
The actor appeared on both stage and screen, starring in several musicals and plays on Broadway.
Stiller earned a drama degree at Syracuse University after serving in World War II, and then headed to New York City to launch his career. He and wife Anne Meara, who met in spring 1953 and married that fall, rose to fame in the 1960s while performing comedy routines together under the stage name Stiller & Meara. Meara died on May 23, 2015.
The couple had two children: Ben, 54, and Amy, 58, both of whom went on to join the family acting business. Jerry and Ben performed together in “Shoeshine,” which was nominated for a 1988 Academy Award in the short subject category.
“What words of wisdom can I give my children?” Stiller wrote in his 2001 book “Married to Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara.” “See past the hype and the glitz and ask yourself why you want to perform. It may take years to arrive at the answers, but understanding the reasons will help you to keep the dream alive and reach your goals.”
On the small screen, Stiller went on to make memorable appearances on “Seinfeld” as Frank Costanza, father to Jason Alexander’s George, which nabbed him a 1997 Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series.
Although a supporting player on the show, he created some of the Emmy-winning show’s most enduring moments: Co-creator and model for the “bro,” a brassiere for men; a Korean War cook who inflicted food poisoning on his entire unit; an ever-simmering salesman controlling his explosive temper with the shouted mantra, “Serenity now!”
In a 2005 Esquire interview, Stiller recalled that he was out of work and not the first choice for the role of Frank: “My manager had retired,” he said. “I was close to 70 years old, and had nowhere to go.”
He was initially told to play the role as a milquetoast husband with an overbearing wife, Estelle, played by Estelle Harris. But the character wasn’t working — until Stiller suggested his reincarnation as an over-the-top crank who matched his wife scream for scream.
It jump-started the septuagenarian’s career, landing him a spot playing Vince Lombardi in a Nike commercial and the role of another over-the-top dad on the long-running sitcom “King of Queens” as Arthur Spooner, father to Leah Remini’s Carrie Heffernan.
He also played Wilbur Turnblad in the 1988 “Hairspray” and Mr. Pinky in the 2007 adaptation. Most recently, Stiller reprised his role as his real-life son’s manager in the “Zoolander” sequel in 2016.