Jerry Stiller may have only played a supporting role in the widely-popular sitcom series Seinfeld, but his on-screen persona as the hilariously high-strung Frank Costanza has created some of the show’s most iconic moments. On 11 May 2020, Hollywood mourned the death of the man, who breathed his last at the age of 92.
Ben Stiller, son of the late comic veteran and a comedic actor in his own right, announced the death on Twitter. In the post, he paid tribute to his father, and confirmed that the latter had passed away from natural causes.
The news saw a great outpour of love messages from other celebrities, including actress Julia Louis Dreyfus, who played Elaine on Seinfeld, and Jason Alexander, Stiller’s on-screen son. “He was perhaps the kindest man I ever had the honour to work beside,” the latter wrote. “He made me laugh when I was a child and every day I was with him. A great actor, a great man, a lovely friend … Yeah. I adored this man.”
The man behind the show, Jerry Seinfeld himself, dedicated two tweets to Stiller: one of him holding Stiller and wife Anne Meara’s 1967 comedy album, and another one of his enduring legacy as a top-tier comedian.
After Seinfeld ended its nine-year run, Stiller played another sitcom dad role in The King of Queens, where he was unsurprisingly well-loved. Leah Remini, who was his daughter in the show, sent her “thoughts and prayers” to Ben and his older sister.
“I was lucky enough to work with Jerry Stiller, playing his daughter for 9 years on The King of Queens, but even luckier to know him, the man, the husband, the father, the grandfather…You will be so very missed Jerry,” she captioned.
Ben also received much support from the industry, with comedian Ricky Gervias replying that he was “so sorry for [his] loss”, and actor Hank Azaria writing, “He was a lovely man – always so kind to me. Condolences Ben.” Azaria and Ben have starred together in several movies, such as Night at the Museum and Dodgeball.
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, meanwhile, expressed in a tweet, “Sending you love Ben. What a giant. So grateful for him, and Anne [Meara], and you.”
A great sitcom figure, and an even greater comedian, Stiller has brought much light and laughter into the entertainment industry. The comic veteran may no longer be in this world, but his legacy will most definitely live on in different forms.