When comedy legend Jerry Stiller passed on March 11, 2020 at age 92 I meant to write a tribute article, but I was preoccupied with all that was happening early on with the COVID-19 pandemic and still is, to some extent.
During these COVID-19 pandemic days, we can all use a laugh. Jerry Stiller is a man who made me laugh often whether it was as Frank Costanza on "Seinfeld" or as Arthur Spooner on "King of Queens."
Stiller was born at Unity Hospital in Crown Heights. He lived in Williamsburg and then moved to East New York. After East New York he moved with his family to the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
He will forever be remembered for such memorable episodes on Seinfeld where he was the founder of the holiday Festivus. Or in the episode where he repeats his infamous phrase; "Serenity Now."
In the King of Queens he was equally as funny as Arthur Spooner. And also as Maury Ballstein in Zoolander (2001) he will make you laugh yet again. That's a movie he did with his famous comedic son Ben Stiller.
When I think of Ben Stiller I often think of the radio commercials he did for Amalgamated Bank. He was also part of a well-known comedy team with his wife Ann Meara in the 1960s. In 1986, they had their own TV sitcom The Stiller and Meara Show . Stiller played the deputy mayor of New York City and Meara his wife, played a TV commercial actress.
Stiller and Meara also made frequent TV appearances on shows such as the Ed Sullivan Show.
Stiller it should be known, served in World War 11. After the war went on to graduate from Syracuse Univerrsity earning a Bachelor's degree in Speech & Drama.
Other famous Brooklyn-born list of people is long and includes: Jackie Gleason, Danny Kaye, Moe & Curly of the Three Stooges, Chuck Connors, Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Jimmy Kimmel, Vince Lombardi, Vinnie Testaverde, Phil Rizzuto, Tommy Davis, Connie Hawkins, Chris Mullin, Carmelo Anthony, Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan and Dr. Anthony Fauci to name a few.
Though I was a proud Manhattan resident for 12 years, I was equally as proud to say I was born in Brooklyn. I lived in Brooklyn for the first seven years of my life in the Avenue J section near Brooklyn College and later in the Sunset Park (53rd St. & 6th Avenue).
I attended PS 94 and remember as a kid going to Sunset Park with my mother and little cousins to cool off in their large water sprinkler version of a pool. It was how us city kids survived the hot summers. As a teenager, I spent three summers at my Uncle's house in Gerritsen Beach. As an adult, I worked at the Brooklyn Army Terminal for three years.
Who would have imagined the two family house my grandparents bought in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn for $11,000 in 1940’s would eventually sell for $2,525,000.
No matter who I meet or work with, there’s never any hesitation when asked; Where were you born? I say Brooklyn with pride.