Anne Therese Meara
September 20, 1929
New York City, U.S.
|Died||May 23, 2015 (aged 85)|
New York City, U.S.
|Children||2, including Ben Stiller|
Anne Meara Stiller (September 20, 1929 – May 23, 2015) was an American actress and comedian. Along with her husband Jerry Stiller, she was one-half of the prominent 1960s comedy team Stiller and Meara. Their son is an actor, director, and producer Ben Stiller. She was also featured on stage, on television, and in numerous films and later became a playwright. During her career, Meara was nominated for four Emmy Awards and a Tony Award, and she won a Writers Guild Award as a co-writer for the television movie The Other Woman.
Meara was born on September 20, 1929, in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of parents of Irish descent, Mary (née Dempsey) and Edward Joseph Meara, a corporate lawyer for American Standard. An only child, she was raised in Rockville Centre, New York, on Long Island. When Anne was 11 years old, her mother committed suicide.
When she was 18, Meara spent a year studying acting at the Dramatic Workshop at The New School and at HB Studio under Uta Hagen in Manhattan. The following year, in 1948, she began her career as an actress in summer stock.
Meara met actor-comedian Jerry Stiller in 1953, and they married in 1954. Until he suggested it, she had never thought of doing comedy. "Jerry started us being a comedy team," she said. "He always thought I would be a great comedy partner." They joined the Chicago improvisational company The Compass Players (which later became The Second City) and, after leaving, formed the comedy team of Stiller and Meara. In 1961 they were performing in nightclubs in New York and by the following year were considered a "national phenomenon", said the New York Times.
Their often improvised comedy routines brought many relationship foibles to live audiences. Their skits focused on domestic themes, as did Nichols and May, another comedy team from the Chicago Compass Players project during that period. "They were Nichols and May without the acid and with warmth," notes author Lawrence Epstein. They also added a new twist to their comedy act, he adds, by sometimes playing up the fact that Stiller was Jewish and Meara was Catholic. After Nichols and May broke up as a team in 1961, Stiller and Meara were the number-one couple comedy team by the late 1960s. And as Mike Nichols and Elaine May were not married, Stiller and Meara became the most famous married couple comedy team since Burns and Allen.
After some years honing the act, Stiller and Meara became regulars on The Ed Sullivan Show, with 36 appearances, and other TV programs, including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. They released their first LP in 1963, Presenting America's New Comedy Sensation: Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara Live at The Hungry I, which became a hit. By 1970, however, they broke up their act because it was affecting their marriage: "I didn't know where the act ended and our marriage began," complained Meara in 1977. Stiller agreed, fearing, "I would have lost her as a wife."
Television, stage, film, video
During the 1970s, Meara and Stiller wrote and performed many radio commercials for Blue Nun Wine. She had a recurring role on the sitcom Rhoda as airline stewardess Sally Gallagher, one of the title character's best friends. She also had a small role as Mrs. Curry opposite Laurence Olivier in The Boys from Brazil (1978).
In 1975, she starred in her own series, Kate McShane, on CBS. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1976; however, the show was canceled after ten episodes.
Also, in the 1970s, Meara provided narration for segments of the educational television series Sesame Street consisting of scenes from silent films.
Meara costarred with Carroll O'Connor and Martin Balsam in the early 1980s hit sitcom Archie Bunker's Place, which was a continuation of the influential 1970s sitcom All in the Family. She played the role of Veronica Rooney, the bar's cook, for the show's first three seasons (1979–1982). During that time, she acted in the movie Fame (1980), in which she played English teacher Elizabeth Sherwood. She also appeared as the grandmother in the TV series ALF in the late 1980s. The Stiller and Meara Show, her own 1986 TV sitcom, in which Stiller played the deputy mayor of New York City and Meara portrayed his wife, a television commercial actress, was unsuccessful. From 1999 to 2007, Meara guest starred in The King of Queens (where her husband played Arthur Spooner), first as Mary Finnegan, then as Veronica Olchin (mother of Spence, who was played by Patton Oswalt). Veronica and Arthur were married in the series finale.
Starting in October 2010, Meara and Jerry Stiller began starring in a Yahoo! web series called Stiller & Meara produced by Red Hour Digital, a production company owned by their son Ben Stiller.
She accepted a role in the off-Broadway play Love, Loss, and What I Wore with Conchata Ferrell, AnnaLynne McCord, Minka Kelly, and B. Smith. She taught a technique and scene study class at HB Studio until her death.
Writing and consulting
In 1995, Meara wrote the comedy After-Play, which became an off-Broadway production. In her later years, she portrayed recurring roles on the television shows Sex and the City (as Mary Brady) and The King of Queens (as Veronica Olchin). During the 2004–05 season, she appeared in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
She was the consulting director of J.A.P. – The Jewish American Princesses of Comedy, a 2007 off-Broadway production that featured live stand-up routines by four female Jewish comics juxtaposed with the stories of legendary performers from the 1950s and 1960s: Totie Fields, Jean Carroll, Pearl Williams, Betty Walker, and Belle Barth.
In 2009, Meara wrote her personal life reflections in a New York-focused online blog titled Mr. Beller's Neighborhood -- New York City Stories. In it, Meara recalled her mother's death and her childhood experiences at Catholic boarding school.
Meara was born, baptized, and raised a Roman Catholic. She converted to Judaism six years after marrying Stiller. She insisted that she did not convert at Stiller's request, explaining, "Catholicism was dead to me". She took her conversion seriously and studied the Jewish faith in such depth that her Jewish-born husband quipped, "Being married to Anne has made me more Jewish". They discussed how they met and their early career during a guest appearance on the TV game show What's My Line? in 1968.
Meara and her husband had two children, Amy and Ben.
|1970||The Out-of-Towners||Woman in Police Station|
|1970||Lovers and Other Strangers||Wilma|
|1972||Irish Whiskey Rebellion||Goldie Fain-Follies Star|
|1977||Nasty Habits||Sister Geraldine|
|1978||The Boys from Brazil||Mrs. Curry|
|1984||In Our Hands||Documentary|
|1986||The Perils of P.K.|
|1987||My Little Girl||Mrs. Shopper|
|1989||That's Adequate||Charlene Lane|
|1992||Through an Open Window||24-minute short|
|1992||Highway to Hell||Medea|
|1993||So You Want to Be an Actor||Herself||Short subject|
|1994||The Search for One-Eye Jimmy||Holly Hoyt|
|1995||Kiss of Death||Bev's Mother|
|1996||The Daytrippers||Rita Malone|
|1998||The Thin Pink Line||Mrs. Langstrom|
|1999||The Diary of the Hurdy-Gurdy Man|
|1999||Brooklyn Thrill Killers||29-minute short|
|1999||A Fish in the Bathtub||Molly|
|2000||Amy Stiller's Breast||Herself||Short subject|
|2001||Keeping It Real: The Adventures of Greg Walloch||Documentary|
|2001||Get Well Soon||Linda|
|2002||Like Mike||Sister Theresa|
|2002||The Yard Sale||19-minute short|
|2003||Crooked Lines||Hard Boiled|
|2004||Chump Change||Casting Director|
|2006||Night at the Museum||Debbie|
|2007||The Shallow End of the Ocean||Voice of Alice||28-minute short|
|2009||When the Evening Comes||Marion Corrado|
|2009||The Queen of Greenwich Village||13-minute short|
|2009||Another Harvest Moon||Ella|
|2014||Simpler Times||33-minute short with Jerry Stiller|
|2014||Planes: Fire & Rescue||Winnie||Voice|
This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2015)
|1954–55||The Greatest Gift||Harriet||219 episodes|
|1954||The Philco Television Playhouse||Betty Blake||Episode: "Man on the Mountaintop"|
|1959||The DuPont Show of the Month||Performer||Episode: "Oliver Twist"|
|1960||Ninotchka||Anna||ABC TV movie|||
|1964–65||Linus! The Lion Hearted||Voice||Animated TV series, 3 episodes|
|1971||Dames at Sea||Joan||Television Special|||
|1971-72||The Courtship of Eddie's Father||Bunny Sterling
|1971-73||Love, American Style||Various roles||2 episodes|
|1973||The Paul Lynde Show||Grace Dickerson||3 episodes|
|1973||The Corner Bar||Mae/Jennifer Bradley||Cast member, 7 episodes|
|1974||Medical Center||Rose Miller||Episode: "The Enemies"|
|1975||Kate McShane||Kate McShane||Cancelled after 10 episodes|
|1976–77||Rhoda||Sally Gallagher||7 episodes|
|1977–78||Take Five with Stiller & Meara|
|1979-83||Love Boat||Various roles||3 episodes|
|1979–82||Archie Bunker's Place||Veronica Rooney||52 episodes|
|1979–82||HBO Sneak Previews||Costarred with Jerry Stiller|
|1983||The Other Woman||Peg Gilford||TV movie (CBS);
Meara co-wrote the teleplay with Lila Garrett
|1986||The Stiller and Meara Show||Performer||Co-writer; Canceled after a few weeks|
|1987||Saturday Night Live||Bartender||Episode: "Charlton Heston/Wynton Marsalis"|
|1987–89||ALF||Dorothy Halligan||7 episodes|
|1987–89||CBS Schoolbreak Special||Mrs. Salters||Episode: "The Day They Came to Arrest the Book"|
|1988-93||Murder, She Wrote||Winnie Tupper Banner
|1990||Monsters||Greta||Episode: "One Wolf's Family"|
|1991||The General Motors Playwrights Theater||Rose Finker||Episode: "Avenue Z Afternoon"|
|1991||Shalom Sesame||Miriam||Episode: "Show 10: Passover"|
|1991||American Playhouse||Bernice Shapiro||"The Sunset Gang": segment: "The Detective"|
|1992–99||All My Children||Peggy Moody||5 episodes|
|1992–99||CBS Schoolbreak Special||Patricia Lennon||Episode: "Love off Limits"|
|1994||In the Heat of the Night||Roda||Episode: "Poor Relations"|
|1994||Great Performances: The Mother||Mrs. Geegan||PBS TV movie, Oct. 24, 1994|||
|1994||Murphy Brown||Reena Bernecky||2 episodes|
|1996||Homicide: Life on the Street||Donna DiGrazi||2 episodes|
|1999||After Play||Writer and cast member|
|1999-02||Oz||Aunt Brenda O'Reily||2 episodes|
|The King of Queens||Mary Finnegan (1999)
Veronica Olchin (2003–07)
|2001||What Makes a Family||Evelyn Cataldi||TV movie (Lifetime)|||
|2001||Ed||Barbara Gennacarro||Episode: "The Test"|
|2001||Will & Grace||Mrs. Friedman||Episode: "Star-Spangled Banter"|
|2002–04||Sex and the City||Mary Brady||4 episodes|
|2003||Good Morning, Miami||Claire's Friend||Episode: "The Slow and the Furious"|
|2003||Charlie Lawrence||Pauline Lawrence||Episode: "If It's Not One Thing It's Your Mother"|||
|2004–12||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Ida Becker
Episode: "Dreams Deferred"
|2006||Four Kings||Ruth||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2009||Mercy||Estelle Thalberg||Episode: "The Last Thing I Said Was"|
|2009–10||Wonder Pets!||Granny Ginny/Granny Winny||2 episodes: Voice|
|2010||Gravity||Mrs. Talbot||Episode: "Old People Creep Me Out"|
|2011||Rip City||Myrt||TVLand sitcom pilot that did not sell|||
|1956||A Month in the Country||Katina the maid||Phoenix Theatre, Off-Broadway|||
|1956||The Good Woman of Setzuan||Niece|||
|1957||Miss Loneyhearts||Sick-of-it-All||Music Box Theatre, Broadway|||
|1958||As You Like It||Audrey||Joseph Papp Public Theater, Off-Broadway|||
|1958||Ulysseys in Nighttown||Various roles||Rooftop Theatre, Off-Broadway|||
|1971||The House of Blue Leaves||Bunny Flingus||Truck and Warehouse Theatre, Off-Broadway|||
|1984||Spookhouse||Performer||Playhouse 91, Off-Broadway|||
|1984||A... My Name Is Alice||Writer||Top of the Gate, Off-Broadway|||
|1988||Romeo and Juliet||Nurse||Joseph Papp Public Theater, Off-Broadway|||
|1988||Eastern Standard||May Logan||John Golden Theatre, Broadway|||
|1993||Anna Christie||Marthy Owen||Center Stage Right, Broadway|||
|Theatre Four, Broadway|||
|2000||Down the Garden Paths||Playwright||Minetta Lane Theatre, Off-Broadway|||
|2011||Love, Loss and What I Wore||Performer||Westside Theatre, Off-Broadway|||
- I'd Rather Eat Pants, National Public Radio, 2002
Awards and nominations
|1976||Golden Globe Awards||Best Supporting Actress - Television||Rhoda||Nominated|||
|1976||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series||Kate McShane||Nominated|
|1981||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series||Archie Bunker's Place||Nominated|
|1997||Guest Actress in a Drama Series||Homicide: Life on the Street||Nominated|
|1984||Writers Guild of America Awards||Original/Adapted Comedy Anthology||The Other Woman||Won|
|1993||Tony Awards||Best Featured Actress in a Play||Anna Christie||Nominated|||
|1996||Outer Critics Circle Award||John Gassner Award||After-Play||Won|
- On February 9, 2007, Meara and Jerry Stiller received stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7018 Hollywood Blvd.
- "Anne Meara, Comedian and Actress, Dies at 85". The New York Times. May 24, 2015. Archived from the original on May 24, 2015. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
- Bloom, Nate (March 17, 2009). "A Pint of Guinness, A Cup of Manischevitz: Some Irish/Jewish Connections". InterfaithFamily.com. Archived from the original on July 6, 2015. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
- "E.J. Meara, Creator Of Comedy Skits, 73". The New York Times. December 16, 1966. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012.
- HB Studio Alumni
- Epstein, Lawrence. Mixed Nuts: America's Love Affair with Comedy Teams, PublicAffairs, Perseus Book (2004) p. 224
- Johnny Carson (August 27, 2012). "Stiller & Meara on Computer Dating". Archived from the original on March 7, 2018. Retrieved April 30, 2018 – via YouTube.
- "Anne Meara, Comedian of Stiller & Meara Fame, Dies at 85" Archived May 25, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, Hollywood Reporter, May 24, 2015
- Kate McShane TV Guide
- "Anne Meara Biography and Emmy" emmys.com, retrieved August 17, 2018
- "Mrs. Sherwood's Classroom in Fame Archived March 10, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, video clip
- "Meet Ben Stiller's Parents on New Yahoo! Web Show". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on December 27, 2010.
- "Stiller & Meara". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on March 12, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
- Gans, Andrew (April 14, 2011). "Minka Kelly, Susan Sullivan Set for Love, Loss... Off-Broadway". Playbill. Archived from the original on April 20, 2011. Retrieved April 21, 2011.
- "After-Play" script, Dramatists Play Service (1996)
- Meara, Anne (June 8, 2009). "Old Nuns".
- O'Toole, Lesley (December 22, 2006). "Ben Stiller: 'Doing Comedy Is Scary'". The Independent. Archived from the original on January 8, 2007. Retrieved December 22, 2006.
- "LA Times". pqarchiver.com. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
- Elkin, Michael (July 28, 1995). "ON THE SCENE: Stiller and Meara marry comedy and a home life". Jewish Exponent. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved December 22, 2008.
- "Stiller & Meara on "What's My Line?" (1968) Archived May 26, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, video
- "Actress and Comedian Anne Meara, Mother of Ben Stiller, Dies at 85". Variety. May 24, 2015. Archived from the original on May 25, 2015. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
- "Anne Meara Filmography" tcm.com. retrieved August 14, 2018
- "Filmography" allmovie.com, retrieved August 14, 2018
- Ninotchka tcm.com, retrieved August 16, 2018
- " Dames at Sea Bell System Family theatre presents Ann Margret, Dames at Sea " princeton.edu, retrieved August 15, 2018
- Drew, Mike (March 22, 1983). "Surprise: adultery film not that bad". The Milwaukee Journal. Milwaukee: Gannett Company. p. 22. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
- " 'The Other Woman' Overview" tcm.com, retrieved August 17, 2018
- O'Connor, John J. "Television Review: Nostalgia For Drama Of TV Past" The New York Times, October 24, 1994
- Kelleher, Terry. "Picks and Pans Review: 'Jitters'" People, May 5, 1997
- Wertheimer, Ron. "Television Review; In This Fight Over Custody, Parents Loved Each Other" The New York Times, January 22, 2001
- " 'Charlie Lawrence' Cast" tvguide.com, retrieved August 17, 2018
- "'Law & Order: SVU' Enlists Patricia Arquette, Anne Meara". The Hollywood Reporter. November 6, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2020.
- "Fran Drescher, Rita Moreno, Donald Faison, Wayne Knight, Kristen Johnston, Christine Taylor and Sherri Shepherd Among Hollywood Stars Signed for TV Land Pilots Taping February 2011" prnewswire.com, February 8, 2011
- A Month in the Country ibdb.com, retrieved August 14, 2018
- The Good Woman of Setzuan ibdb.com, retrieved August 14, 2018
- Miss Loneyhearts ibdb.com, retrieved August 14, 2018
- As You Like It lortel.org, retrieved August 14, 2018
- Ulysseys in Nightown lortel.org, retrieved August 14, 2018
- The House of Blue Leaves broadwayworld.com, retrieved August 14, 2018
- Spookhouse broadwayworld.com, retrieved August 14, 2018
- A... My Name Is Alice lortel.org, retrieved August 14, 2018
- Romeo and Juliet lortel.org, retrieved August 14, 2018
- Eastern Standard lortel.org, retrieved August 14, 2018
- Anna Christie ibdb.com, retrieved August 14, 2018
- After-Play lortel.org, retrieved August 14, 2018
- Isherwood, Charles. "Review. Down the Garden Paths " Variety, November 19, 2000
- Hetrick, Adam. "Conchata Ferrell, Anne Meara Explore Love, Loss... Off-Broadway, Starting April 27" Playbill, April 27, 2011
- "Anne Meara". Playbill.com. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
- Stiller & Meara Yahoo podcast
- Anne Meara at IMDb
- Anne Meara at the TCM Movie Database
- Anne Meara at the Internet Broadway Database
- Anne Meara at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Works by or about Anne Meara in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Production: Anna Christie – Working in the Theatre Seminar video at American Theatre Wing.org, January 1993
- Anne Meara at The Interviews: An Oral History of Television
- Anne Meara at the Comedy Hall of Fame