Married to Laughter: A Love Story Featuring Anne Meara

Jerry Stiller, Author
Jerry Stiller, Author Simon & Schuster $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-684-86903-2
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Hardcover - 576 pages - 978-0-375-43092-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-52759-9
Compact Disc - 978-0-553-71217-9
Paperback - 348 pages - 978-0-684-86904-9
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Longtime comedic actor Stiller, noted for his performances with wife Anne Meara and for his turn as the combustible Frank Costanza on Seinfeld, offers engaging reflections on his life and work, plus anecdotes about a range of showbiz personages. Stiller's comedic impulses stem from childhood in poor Jewish neighborhoods in New York, where comedian Eddie Cantor's TV appearances could bring peace to Stiller's fractious parents. While Stiller doesn't overanalyze himself, he acknowledges a need for audience approval, something his more relaxed wife doesn't need as desperately. When the couple met, both were struggling actors, but Meara charmed Stiller with her spontaneous wit and optimism: she proposed to him. Striving to be ""in the moment"" and to bond with their audiences, the two didn't find instant success as a duo, though later their performances in nightclubs and on the Ed Sullivan show and their commercials for Blue Nun wine (the first successful comedic commercials) brought them celebrity. Still, an actor's path is unpredictable. Stiller found a second wind in the past decade when he was called to play Frank Costanza. ""I can't do this guy subdued,"" Stiller declared to Seinfeld creator Larry David; his years of experience paid off in a memorable character that earned Stiller an Emmy nomination. Stiller says he's still learning about himself through his acting. Though he works less often with his wife, the two have strengthened their marriage by finding new curiosity in each other. Some readers might want to learn more about some aspects of Stiller's life, like his showbiz children (Amy and Ben), but he comes off as an endearing fellow who deserves his success. Agent, Peter Matson. 100,000 first printing. (Sept.)
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