The creator of Festivus, a World War II veteran, is dead at 92

Julia LeDoux
May 11, 2020 - 9:46 am
Stiller

Getty Images

Army veteran and comedian Jerry Stiller, best known for his roles in the television shows “Seinfeld” and “King of Queens,” has died at the age of 92.

His son, actor Ben Stiller, made the announcement via Twitter early on Monday. The younger Stiller said his father died of "natural causes."

Stiller, who served in the Army as World War II was drawing to a close, used the G.I. Bill to earn a bachelor’s degree in speech and drama from the University of Syracuse in 1950. The classically trained actor studied alongside Steve McQueen with Uta Hagen. Although he performed Shakespeare, Stiller’s greatest fame came from taking on the roles of blue-collar characters like Frank Costanza on “Seinfeld” where he created the holiday known as Festivus.

Following his stint on “Seinfeld,” Stiller went on to play Arthur Spooner on the CBS comedy “King of Queens.” The son of a bus driver, Stiller was born June 8, 1927, in Brooklyn, New York. He later said he developed his talent for comedy while growing up as a way to keep his parents from fighting.

He made his acting debut at the age of 15, but\ his career really took off when he teamed up with wife, Anne Meara, who he married in 1953. The duo were both struggling when they met, but an appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” sparked a decades-long run on the screen for the couple until her death in 2015.

“I stole all their material,” he later said.  

Stiller appeared most recently with his son in “Zoolander 2” in 2016. 

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.

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