(Peter Keepnews’s article appeared in The New York Times, 5/24.)
Anne Meara, who became famous as half of one of the most successful male-female comedy teams of all time and went on to enjoy a long and diverse career as an actress and, late in life, a playwright, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 85.
Her death was confirmed by her husband and longtime comedy partner, Jerry Stiller, and her son, the actor and director Ben Stiller. They did not provide the cause.
Ms. Meara was an experienced but relatively unknown stage actress when she joined forces with Jerry Stiller, as members of the Compass Players, an improvisational theater troupe that evolved into Second City (where another male-female team, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, had gotten their start), and later on their own as Stiller and Meara. The duo began performing in New York nightclubs in 1961 and within a year had become a national phenomenon.