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May 20, 2020 1:24 pm

Ben Stiller Remembers Late Father, Comedian Jerry Stiller, as ‘Very Loving Dad’

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Brother and sister Amy (2nd L) and Ben Stiller (2nd R) pose for pictures at a ceremony where their parents Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara are honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 9, 2007. Photo: Reuters / Phil McCarten / File.

Jewish actor and director Ben Stiller recently opened up about what it was like to have legendary comedian Jerry Stiller as his father, and what the late “Seinfeld” star thought of Ben’s career path.

Jerry, who died earlier this month at the age of 92, was “a very sensitive guy, a very loving dad,” Ben said in an interview with The New Yorker. He then told over a childhood story about him being at an overnight camp in Maine and Jerry coming to visit because Ben was homesick. Ben explained, “My mom [the late Anne Meara] would be kind of like, ‘No, Jerry, he’s got to figure out how to be on his own.’ And my dad was, like, ‘No, I want to go up there and be with him.'”

Jerry stayed for a couple of days, left, and then returned to see Ben perform in a play. Ben recalled, “I remember him watching the play. And I sang some song in it, and I remember him having this big smile. It wasn’t a laugh, but it was him just appreciating seeing his kid performing. I think he just loved seeing his kids act, and do their thing.”

When Ben at around the age of 8 decided he wanted to be a director, Jerry “really supported that” and bought his son a camera and editing equipment. Ben further explained that when he and his sister Amy, a comedian, both decided to go into show business, Jerry felt “overprotective” and “concerned” about the rejection his children may face, but “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.”

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“If my dad could have been there with us every step of the way, he would pull every string that he could possibly pull, and open every door he could possibly open,” Ben added. “And, again, he was like that with anybody. If you met somebody on the street and they said they were a fan and they were interested in acting, he’d talk to them for twenty minutes about it. For real. He was that guy.”

“They were always so supportive,” Ben said about his parents. “And I think I was the one going through my own things, trying to figure out ‘How do I individuate?’ or ‘How do I become what I want to become?’ But my dad was so loving. His love for his kids is so strong that it didn’t matter what I was going through — he could absorb it.”

Ben also talked to the The New Yorker about Jerry’s iconic character in “Seinfeld,” the short-tempered and vocal Frank Costanza. Ben said unlike his father’s character on the show, Jerry “never once raised his voice to me, ever, as a kid. Ever.”

He concluded by saying about his parents, “I feel like what I take away from them is this deep love and support that they always had. At the end of the day, it’s what you have inside, what you feel inside of your parents, that you keep with you. And so I hope, at the end of the day, that’s what I can leave my kids.”

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