Actress comedian writer Anne Meara got a beautiful send off this afternoon at a star studded memorial service on Broadway. Among those who toaster her at the Eugene O’Neill Theater were husband Jerry Stiller, kids Ben Stiller and Amy Stiller, and stars like Liam Neeson, Bob Saget, 89 year old actress Charlotte Rae, director Peter Farrelly, singer Peter Yarrow, writer Donald Margulies, “Sex and the City” producer Michael Patrick King, and the Stillers’ Nantucket neighbor Judy Collatz. In the audience: Cynthia Nixon, Larry David, Robert Klein, and dozens of others.
The nearly two hour presentation was elegant, funny, and funny as Meara’s many fans paid tribute to her sense of humor, her great heart, and her salty tongue. The “F” word was dropped many times, often quoting Meara herself.
The very last speakers were sister and brother Amy and Ben Stiller, who obviously adored their mother.
“I find myself imagining how she’d react to things going on in the world, like this whole Trump thing,” Ben Stiller said. “She had no patience for Donald Trump, ever since he closed down the 72nd exit to the West Side Highway. I continually hear her saying Putz in my head. Weirdly I feel closer to her because of this so I’m enjoying watching him,” he paused. “I’m also realizing how truly, deeply I love her, so deeply and how much her life has filled me, and her shadow has loomed over me. And that’s what you want from a parent, that there’s no hiding from their imprint.”
The final speaker was Jerry Stiller, Meara’s lifelong partner in comedy and marriage. Ben and Amy stood on either side of Stiller, who’s a little fragile now and white haired at 88 years young.
Jerry recalled that their 60 plus appearances on “Ed Sullivan” may have been because Sullivan was married to a Jewish woman– and he probably related to the Stiller and Meara marriage which was also Jewish and Irish.
Stiller said at one point after they skyrocketed to success Meara insisted they have kids. “Either we have kids or it’s over,” Meara told him. “And Bingo,” he said, pointing to his kids. “We had two kids, and I was the father of one,” he cracked, sending the memorial audience into convulsions.
Among the performers: a musical number that featured Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jody Eisenstein-Miracle, Ben Stiller’s actress wife Christine Taylor and their daughter Ella singing “The Body Electric” from the movie “Fame,” which featured Meara.
“She was more than just a comedian and actress, she was something so far up there that someday we’ll all know all about it,” Jerry concluded.