Comedienne Anne Meara, mother of Ben, reposes , 85

A much younger Anne

Anne Meara, part of Stiller and Meara and mother of Ben Stiller, he of the Night at the Museum series,  died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 85. They did not provide the cause.

She was a  tall redhead with a brassy Long Island accent  and a self-confident demeanor,   Her partner and husband, was a much shorter New York Jew, known to most people as George Costanza’s wacky father who invented “Festivus for the the rest of us.”

Born in Brooklyn on Sept. 20, 1929, Anne was  raised in Rockville Centre, Nassau country,  Long Island. She was an only child, and daughter of Edward Meara, a lawyer, and the former Mary Dempsey, who committed suicide when her daughter was 11. 

After studying for a year at the Dramatic Workshop at the New School in Manhattan, Anne began her career in summer stock in 1948. She met Mr. Stiller in 1953 and married him shortly thereafter, but it would be some time before they began working as a team. The idea, they both agreed, was his; she did not think of herself as a comedienne, but because work was scarce she reluctantly agreed.

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. 

 Ms. Meara, though born and raised Roman Catholic, converted to Judaism in 1961.

In addition to her husband and her son, Ms. Meara is survived by a daughter, the actress and comedian Amy Stiller, and two grandchildren of Ben’s. 

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.
Here’s one of the skits from the Johnny Carson Show on Youtube.

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