Gerald Isaac "Jerry" Stiller (born June 8, 1927) is an American comedian and actor. He is known for playing Frank Costanza on the NBC sitcom Seinfeld and Arthur Spooner on the CBS comedy series The King of Queens.[1] He spent many years in the comedy team Stiller and Meara with his wife, Anne Meara. They are the parents of actor Ben Stiller, with whom Stiller co-starred in the films Zoolander, Heavyweights, Hot Pursuit, The Heartbreak Kid and Zoolander 2. Stiller is best known for his unique angry, yelling acting style.

Early life

The eldest of four children,[2] Stiller was born at Unity Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Bella (née Citron; 1902–1954) and William Stiller (1896–1999), a bus driver.[3] His family was Jewish. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Galicia, and his mother was born in Poland.[4] He lived in the Williamsburg and East New York neighborhoods before his family moved to the Lower East Side,[5] where he attended Seward Park High School.[6]

A drama major at Syracuse University, he earned a bachelor's degree in Speech and Drama in 1950. In the 1953 Phoenix Theater production of Coriolanus (produced by John Houseman), Stiller (along with Gene Saks and Jack Klugman) formed "the best trio of Shakespearian clowns that [he] had ever seen on any stage".[7]

Stiller and Meara

The comedy team Stiller and Meara, composed of Stiller and wife, Anne Meara, was successful in the 1960s and 1970s, with numerous appearances on television variety programs, mainly on The Ed Sullivan Show.[8] Their career declined as variety series gradually disappeared, but they subsequently forged a career in radio commercials, notably the campaign for Blue Nun wine. They starred in their own syndicated five-minute sketch comedy show, Take Five with Stiller and Meara (1977–1978).[9]

From 1979 to 1982, Stiller and Meara hosted HBO Sneak Previews, a half-hour show produced monthly on which they described the movies and programs to be featured in the coming month.[10] They also did some comedy sketches between show discussions. The duo's own 1986 TV sitcom, The Stiller and Meara Show, in which Stiller played the deputy mayor of New York City and Meara portrayed his wife, a TV commercial actress, was not successful[citation needed]



Stiller played the short-tempered Frank Costanza, the father of George Costanza in the sitcom Seinfeld from 1993 to 1998. He was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 1997, and won the American Comedy Award for Funniest Male Guest Appearance in a TV Series for his portrayal of Frank Costanza.[citation needed]

The King of Queens

After Seinfeld's run ended, Stiller had planned on retiring, but Kevin James asked him to join the cast of The King of Queens. James, who played the leading role of Doug Heffernan, had told Stiller that he needed him in order to have a successful show.[citation needed] Stiller obliged, and played the role of Arthur Spooner, the father of Carrie Heffernan, in the sitcom from 1998 until 2007. Stiller said this role tested his acting ability more than any others have and that, before being a part of King of Queens, he only saw himself as a "decent actor".[citation needed]

Other appearances

Stiller played himself in filmed skits, opening and closing Canadian rock band Rush's 30th Anniversary Tour concerts in 2004. These appearances are seen on the band's DVD R30: 30th Anniversary World Tour, released in 2005. Stiller later appeared in cameos in later in-concert films for the band's 2007-2008 Snakes & Arrows Tour. Stiller appeared on Dick Clark's $10,000 Pyramid show as himself in the 1970s, but actual footage of this appearance was later edited into an episode of The King of Queens to make it appear that his character was a contestant on the show, and he was bitter as he never received his parting gift, a lifetime supply of "Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco Treat".[citation needed] He also appeared on the game show Tattletales with his wife Anne in the "Blue rooting section". (Reran Fox 2 Detroit, MI channel 2.3 on 6/2/15 7:00 AM)

In the late 1990s, Stiller appeared in a series of Nike television commercials as the ghost of deceased Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi. Stiller has appeared in various motion pictures, most notably Zoolander (2001) and Secret of the Andes (1999). On February 9, 2007, Stiller and Meara were honored with a joint star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. On October 28, 2010, the couple appeared on an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Stiller voiced the announcer on the children's educational show Crashbox. Starting in October 2010, Stiller and Meara began starring in a Yahoo web series, Stiller & Meara from Red Hour Digital, in which they discussed current topics. Each episode was about two minutes long.[11] As of 2012, Stiller has been a spokesman for Xfinity.

As author

Stiller in 2005

Stiller wrote the foreword to the book Festivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us (ISBN 0-446-69674-9) by Allen Salkin, released on October 26, 2005. Stiller's memoir, Married to Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara, was published by Simon & Schuster © 2000; ISBN 0-684-86903-9.

Personal life

Stiller was married to Anne Meara from 1954 until her death on May 23, 2015. Their son is actor-comedian Ben Stiller (born 1965) and their daughter is actress Amy Stiller (born 1961). He is also a grandfather to two children.



Year Film Role Notes
1970 Lovers and Other Strangers Jim (Carol's father) Uncredited
1974 The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Lt. Rico Patrone
1974 Airport 1975 Sam
1976 The Ritz Carmine Vespucci
1986 Seize the Day Dr. Tamkin
1987 Hot Pursuit Victor Honeywell
1987 Nadine Raymond Escobar
1988 Hairspray Wilbur Turnblad
1990 Sweet 15 Mr. Waterman
1992 Freefall Emily's Father
1992 Highway to Hell The Desk Cop
1993 The Pickle Phil Hirsch
1995 Heavyweights Harvey Bushkin
1997 Subway Stories Old Man in Subway (segment "The 5:24")
1997 Camp Stories Schlomo
1997 Stag Ted
1997 The Deli Petey Cheesecake [12]
1999 A Fish in the Bathtub Sam Kaplan
1999 The Suburbans Speedo Silverburg
1999 Secret of the Andes Dr. Golfisch
2000 The Independent (2000) Monty Fineman
2000 My 5 Wives Don Giovani
2000 Chump Change The Colonel
2001 Zoolander Maury Ballstein
2001 On the Line Nathan
2002 Serving Sara Milton the Cop
2004 Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy Man in Bar Uncredited
2004 Teacher's Pet Pretty Boy (voice)
2004 The Lion King 1½ Uncle Max (voice) Direct-to-DVD
2005 R30: 30th Anniversary World Tour Himself
2007 Hairspray Mr. Pinky
2007 The Heartbreak Kid Doc
2008 Snakes & Arrows Live Heidi
2011 Swinging with the Finkels Mr. Winters
2012 Foodfight! General X (voice)
2014 Planes: Fire & Rescue Harvey (voice)
2016 Zoolander 2 Maury Ballstein


Year Film Role Notes
1972 The Carol Burnett Show Himself Episode: "#6.8"
1972–1973 The Paul Lynde Show Barney Dickerson 3 episodes
1979 Time Express Episode: "Garbage Man/Doctor's Wife"
1979–1983 The Love Boat Harlan Weatherly / Tony Vitelli / Bud Hanrahan 3 episodes co-starring Anne Meara
1980–1982 Archie Bunker's Place Carmine 2 episodes
1981 Madame X Burt Orland Television movie
1983 The Other Woman Mel Binns Television movie
1985 Tales from the Darkside Luther Mandrake Episode: "The Devil's Advocate"
1989 Murder, She Wrote SFPD Lt. Birnbaum Episode: "When The Fat Lady Sings"
1993–1998 Seinfeld Frank Costanza 26 episodes
1998 Touched by an Angel Maury Salt Episode: "Cry and You Cry Alone"
1998–2007 The King of Queens Arthur Spooner 195 episodes
2000–2002 Teacher's Pet Pretty Boy 11 episodes
2003 Sex and the City Mr. Brady Episode: "One"
2010–2011 Fish Hooks Principal Stickler 21 episodes
2011 The Good Wife Judge Felix Afterman Episode: "Silver Bullet"
2014 How Murray Saved Christmas Murray Weiner (voice) Television movie


  1. ^ Dennis Bjorklund. Seinfeld Reference: The Complete Encyclopedia with Biographies, Character Profiles & Episode Summaries. Praetorian Publishing. pp. 36–. ISBN 978-0-9679852-4-4. Best remembered for his five-year stint on "Seinfeld" in a recurring regular role, Jerry Stiller ... is a veteran actor with a long history of stage performances. His notoriety first came when he revamped the role of George's father, but he ... 
  2. ^ "Jerry Stiller profile at". Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  3. ^ Jerry Stiller profile,; accessed August 4, 2014.
  4. ^ Jerry Stiller (8 August 2000). Married to Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara. Simon & Schuster. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-0-7432-1146-8. 
  5. ^ Jerry Stiller's Own Private East Side
  6. ^ "Famous Alumni". Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  7. ^ Houseman, John (1979). Front & Center. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 439. ISBN 0-671-24328-4. 
  8. ^ Jeffrey Ross (September 15, 2009). I Only Roast the Ones I Love: Busting Balls Without Burning Bridges. Gallery Books. pp. 163–. ISBN 978-1-4391-6420-4. 
  9. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1985). Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials, Volume 2. VNR AG. p. 404. ISBN 0918432618. Retrieved 20 April 2016. 
  10. ^ Jerry Stiller profile,; accessed May 24, 2013.
  11. ^ "Watch Stiller and Meara online". Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  12. ^

External links