Jerry Stiller’s final days were filled with humor, his son, actor Ben Stiller revealed in a new interview, published on May 19. Ben also reflected on his father’s illustrious career, describing him as ‘nurturing’ and ‘overprotective.’
Ben Stiller and his sister Amy were by their father’s side during his final moments, the Zoolander actor, 54, revealed in a new interview. And, despite having slowed down a bit, Ben told The New Yorker that Jerry Stiller was his funny self “until the end.” Jerry died of natural causes at the age of 92 on May 11, his son confirmed on Twitter.
“My sister and I were able to be with him [before he died]. And, just due to the fact that he didn’t have a coronavirus-related illness, and he had been ailing for a while, we were able to be with him, which I’m very, very grateful for,” Ben said in the interview, published on May 19 — eight days after his father’s passing.
“He was just slowing down a lot, and he was dealing with a lot of issues,” the actor revealed about his father’s final days. “And so the last week or two were tougher for him. But he went peacefully, and he had a sense of humor, for sure, until the end. I hesitate to call it a sense of humor. He was just funny, and so he was always himself,” Ben continued, adding, “He was almost ninety-three, and I think his body was kind of at that point where it was time.”
Ben confirmed his father’s death in a tweet on May 11. “I’m sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes,” Ben wrote. “He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad.”
When asked if it was important to his parents that he turned out to be “funny,” Ben explained why he didn’t think so at all.
“Interesting… When they knew that we both were interested in acting, and going into show business, I think they were both conflicted. My dad was very overprotective, and I think he was probably concerned about knowing all the rejection there is in this business,” he recalled. Ben’s mother, Anne Meara died in 2015. “And, at the same time, I think he also was so nurturing of us, as creative people, and he wanted to try to foster that as much as he could. It’s kind of that thing where you go, “O.K., if you’re really going to go and try to do this, until you actually try to do it, you don’t know how hard it can be.” My parents were very different people. So he had one way of dealing with it. My mom had a different way.”
Jerry is best known for his role as Frank Costanza in Seinfeld, in which he starred from 1993-1998. He also played Arthur Spooner on The King of Queens from 1998 until 2007.
The late actor is survived by his two kids, Ben and Amy Stiller and his two grandchildren — Ben and wife Christine Taylor‘s kids, Ella, 18, and Quinlin, 14. Our thoughts are with the Stiller family and their loved ones during this difficult time.