Actress, comedian Anne Meara, winner of 4 Emmys and mother of Ben Stiller, dies

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Actress, comedian Anne Meara, winner of 4 Emmys and mother of Ben Stiller, dies


LOS ANGELES - Anne Meara, the loopy, lovable comedian who launched a stand-up career with husband Jerry Stiller in the 1950s and found success as an actress in films, on TV and the stage, has died.

Jerry Stiller and son Ben Stiller say Meara died Saturday. No other details were provided.

The Stiller family released a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday describing Jerry Stiller as Meara’s “husband and partner in life.’’

“The two were married for 61 years and worked together almost as long,’’ the statement said.

As Stiller and Meara, they appeared in comedy routines that joked about married life and their respective ethnic backgrounds. They logged 36 appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show’’ and were a successful team in Las Vegas, major nightclubs, on records and in commercials (scoring big for Blue Nun wine with their sketches on radio).

They were beloved New Yorkers, well known to their Upper West Side neighbors. The marriage lasted, but the act was dissolved in the 1970s as Meara resumed the acting career she had originally sought. She appeared in such films as “The Out-of-Towners,’’ “Fame,’’ “Awakenings’’ and, directed by her son, “Reality Bites.’’

Meara was twice nominated for an Emmy Award for her supporting role on “Archie Bunker’s Place,’’ along with two other Emmy nods, most recently in 1997 for her guest-starring role on “Homicide.’’ She won a Writers Guild Award for co-writing the 1983 TV movie “The Other Woman.’’

She also appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, including a longtime role on “All My Children’’ and appearances on “Rhoda,’’ “Alf’’ and “The King of Queens.’’ She shared the screen with her son in 2006’s “Night at the Museum.’’

Meara also had a recurring role on CBS’ “Murphy Brown’’ and on HBO’s “Sex and the City.’’ In 1975, she starred in CBS’ “Kate McShane,’’ which, though short-lived, had the distinction of being the first network drama to feature a woman lawyer.

She made her off-Broadway debut in 1971 in John Guare’s award-winning play “The House of Blue Leaves.’’ A quarter-century later, she made her off-Broadway bow as a playwright with her comedy-drama, “After-Play.’’

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