Jerry and his wife, Anne were part of "The Compass Players" (which later became Second City). Then they performed at David Gordon's Phase II in Greenwhich Village. They went on to play record-breaking engagements at Max Gordon's Blue Angel and The Village Vanguard. They toured the country playing Mr. Kelly's
, The Hungry
, The Crescendo
, and The Flamingo and The Sands
. Anne and Jerry performed at The Establishment
in London, and appeared thirty-six times on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Jerry made his legit debut in The Silver Whistle
with Burgess Meredith and then appeared with Lawrence Tibbett and Veronica Lake in the National Company of Peter Pan.
T. Hambleton and Norris Houghton cast him as a resident in the first two seasons at the Phoenix Theatre, where he appeared in The Golden Apple
and later Coriolanous
for John Houseman. He worked again for Houseman at the Stratford Festival.
Broadway has seen Jerry in "Hurlyburly," directed by Mike Nichols, "The Ritz," "Passione," "The Golden Apple," "Unexpected Guests," "Three Men on a Horse," (with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman), "What's Wrong with This Picture?" and "The Three Sisters."
which starred Jerry and his son Ben Stiller, was nominated for an Academy Award in the 1988 Short Subject Category. Other film appearances include The Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three, Those Lips-Those Eyes, Airport '75, Nadine, The Ritz, Hairspray
and The Pickle.
He and Anne starred in the Joan Micklin Silver film, The Fish in the Bathtub
and Jerry starred in The Independent
opposite Jeaneane Garafolo, and appeared in the film Zoolander,
directed by and starring son Ben.
On television, Jerry received an Emmy Award-nomination and an American Comedy Award for his role as Frank Costanza on Seinfeld.
He also garnered great praise for his role as the charlatan psychoanalyst, Dr. Tamkin, opposite Robin Williams, in a PBS Great Performance of Saul Bellow's Seize The Day
produced by Robert Geller. He appeared in The Hollow Boy
again for Geller. Jerry and Anne starred together in The Detective
(part of The Sunset Gang on American Playhouse). He appeared in the HBO film Subway Stories
and as the Devil's Advocate in Tales From the Darkside
He co-starred on the series Joe and Sons
and has guest starred on Murder She Wrote, Law and Order, LA Law, In the Heat of the Night, Homicide,
and Touched by an Angel.
Jerry is a graduate of Syracuse University where he studied with Professor Sawyer Folk and has taught at the Herbert Berghof Studio. His autobiography, Married to Laughter is published by Simon and Schuster and the audio version, read by Jerry, was nominated for a Grammy in the Spoken Word category.