Anne Meara

Biography: A loopy standup comedian, actor and writer, Meara paired with her husband Jerry Stiller and became something of a staple on the American comedy scene beginning in the late 1950s. Sometimes viewed as the common man's Nichols and May, Stiller and Meara, with their schmaltzy Brooklyn-accented gags and skits, worked the early comedy circuit that spawned such talents as Bill Cosby and Joan Rivers, and included such venues as The Village Gate and The Blue Angel. Achieving something of a record with 34 appearances on the legendary Ed Sullivan variety show on CBS, they formed a production company in the early 1960s to write, produce and record a series of innovative and award-winning TV and radio commercials. Their loving but sarcastic rendition of the Irish-Catholic wife and the Jewish husband never really seemed to date.
The red-haired, Brooklyn-born Meara began her career in off-Broadway theater, appearing as the Nurse in the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of "Romeo and
A loopy standup comedian, actor and writer, Meara paired with her husband Jerry Stiller and became something of a staple on the American comedy scene beginning in the late 1950s. Sometimes viewed as the common man's Nichols and May, Stiller and Meara, with their schmaltzy Brooklyn-accented gags and skits, worked the early comedy circuit that spawned such talents as Bill Cosby and Joan Rivers, and included such venues as The Village Gate and The Blue Angel. Achieving something of a record with 34 appearances on the legendary Ed Sullivan variety show on CBS, they formed a production company in the early 1960s to write, produce and record a series of innovative and award-winning TV and radio commercials. Their loving but sarcastic rendition of the Irish-Catholic wife and the Jewish husband never really seemed to date.
The red-haired, Brooklyn-born Meara began her career in off-Broadway theater, appearing as the Nurse in the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of "Romeo and Juliet" (1957), a role she reprised for a 1988 production. She made her TV bow in the series "The Greatest Gift" (NBC, 1954), appeared in the groundbreaking off-Broadway production of "Ulysses in Nighttown" (1958) with Zero Mostel and made her Broadway debut starring in John Guare's award-winning farce "The House of Blue Leaves" (1970). But it was with Stiller--in cabarets, recordings, TV and radio skits--that she became best-known through the 1960s and '70s.
Eventually, Meara began to work independently of Stiller. She had roles in the films "The Out-of-Towners" (1970, typically billed as "Irate Woman") and "Lovers and Other Strangers" (1970). Meara was a nun in the comedy "Nasty Habits" (1976), gave an unusual--and revealingly effective--dramatic turn in the thriller "The Boys From Brazil" (1978), portrayed a feisty teacher in the popular teenage dance drama "Fame" (1980) and also appeared in the low-budget comedies "The Longshot" and "The Perils of P.K." (both 1986). After appearing with Stiller in the comedy about comedy "That's Adequate" (1989), Meara hit the big-time again with Penny Marshall's heartwarming psychodrama "Awakenings" (1990). She and daughter Amy Stiller were directed by her son Ben Stiller in his feature film debut, "Reality Bites" (1994).

On TV, Meara appeared on numerous specials and had continuing roles on "Rhoda" (CBS, 1974-78); "Archie Bunker's Place" (CBS, 1979-83) as the bar cook; as a grandmother on "Alf" (NBC, 1986-90); and as painter Eldin Bernecky's mother on "Murphy Brown" (CBS, 1994). Meara starred in two series: the short-lived "The Corner Bar" (ABC, 1973), and in the first network series to feature a woman lawyer, "Kate McShane" (1975).

The mid-1990s were a good time for her, not only because of son Ben's success (and her husband's role on the TV show "Seinfeld"), but her own renaissance onstage. She made her Off-Broadway debut as a playwright with the comedy/drama of two couples, "After-Play" (1994-95). Meara subsequently joined the cast and in late 1995, Stiller did as well, but, for a change, not as her husband. As a playwright, though, her second effort, "Down the Garden Path" did not fare as well with critics when it opened Off-Broadway in fall 2000.
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Anne Meara's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average career score: 53
Highest Metascore: 74 Awakenings
Lowest Metascore: 36 Fired!
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 8
  2. Negative: 1 out of 8
8 movie reviews
Title: Year: Credit: User score:
48 Planes: Fire & Rescue Jul 18, 2014 Winnie 4.9
36 Fired! Feb 2, 2007 Herself tbd
47 Like Mike Jul 3, 2002 Sister Theresa / Sister Theresa tbd
74 Judy Berlin Feb 25, 2000 Bea tbd
44 Southie May 28, 1999 Mrs. Quinn tbd
74 Awakenings Dec 20, 1990 Miriam / Miriam tbd
58 Fame May 16, 1980 Mrs. Sherwood tbd
40 The Boys from Brazil Oct 6, 1978 Mrs. Curry tbd