Ben Stiller discussed his late father, Jerry Stiller, and revealed that he was a drastically different parent than his famous “Seinfeld” character.
Stiller and his sister, Amy, joined the hosts of “Stars in the House” remotely to discuss Jerry and his longtime comedy partner and wife, Anne Meara. Inevitably, the brash and often unsupportive father figure he played to Jason Alexander’s character, George Costanza, on “Seinfeld” came up.
The hosts asked Stiller if he ever felt jealous of Alexander for essentially taking over his role as Jerry’s son on the show. Stiller noted that his father’s real-life parenting was far from that of Frank Costanza’s.
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“I never felt that,” Stiller began. “His character on the show, my dad’s character, was so not like my dad. That’s the thing. He was so not like that as a father. I mean literally the opposite.”
Stiller was reminded of a time before he dropped out of UCLA when he wrote a letter to his dad telling him how much he hated being at the university. He explained that Jerry wrote him a thoughtful response letter that he recently uncovered, reminding him of the kind of person his dad really was.
“He wrote me this long letter just about life and about why it’s important to stick things out,” Stiller explained. “It was really… it got very philosophical and just reading it now, I’m like ‘oh my god!’ It was a beautiful thing. He really cared. So he wasn’t that crazy guy at home.”
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The siblings were then surprised by none other than Alexander himself, who joined the video call to share his thoughts on working with Jerry all those years on the hit NBC sitcom.
“Heaven, heaven,” Alexander said of working with Jerry. “He was exactly who Ben and Amy are describing. He was generous and grateful and charming and collaborative and so happy to be there.”
Stiller, who died at age 92 in May, also appeared on “King of Queens” and had countless film and TV roles throughout his decades-long career.
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“I’m sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes,” Ben tweeted at the time. “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.”