Ben Stiller says father Jerry was funny till the end but 'his body was kind of at that point where it was time'
Ben Stiller recently opened up about being beside his late father Jerry Stiller in the final moments before he died earlier this month at the age of 92.In an interview with the New Yorker, the actor said he was fortunate enough to be able to visit his father during the last few days of his life even amid the ongoing pandemic.
"Just due to the fact that he didn’t have a coronavirus-related illness, and he had been ailing for a while, we were able to be with him, which I’m very, very grateful for," he said.
When the 'Meet the Parents' actor was asked to describe how his comedian father was holding up in the last moments, Ben said that Jerry's funny bone was intact till the end. "He was just slowing down a lot, and he was dealing with a lot of issues. And so the last week or two were tougher for him. But he went peacefully, and he had a sense of humor, for sure, until the end. I hesitate to call it a sense of humor. He was just funny, and so he was always himself. He was almost ninety-three, and I think his body was kind of at that point where it was time," he said.
Ben also dished on how the household was like when he and his sister Amy Stiller were growing up with their parents, both of whom were in showbiz.
"Growing up with them, we were always around their process of working together, because they worked together at home. And so I don’t ever remember a moment of thinking, Oh, they’re funny. I remember watching them onstage and seeing them perform and get laughs, and do their act. I remember, as a kid, enjoying watching that and thinking, Oh, this is kind of cool that everybody thinks my parents are funny. And it was exciting," he said.
He added: "My sister and I really enjoyed watching them perform. But, as parents, they’re always your parents. I think we had our progression of the relationship that you have with your parents, as you go through childhood and adolescence, and all the different aspects of it. But, honestly, when I think about it, it’s really when I got a little bit older, when I was a teenager, that I was able to really appreciate their humor. And then, really, as I got much older and was able to have a perspective, I was able to really see outside of the lens of just being their kid."
Jerry lost his wife, Anne Meara, in 2015 after consecutive heart attacks. Ben said his father regretted the fact that he will be remembered by most people for playing George Costanza’s dad in 'Seinfeld' and not for the work he did with his wife as a comedy team.
"I think the only thing that might have bothered him a little bit was that he wanted people to remember his work with Anne, because he loved my mom so much. I think that would be the only aspect of it. He would be, like, 'But, Anne—Anne is amazing.' And I can understand that, because they did such incredible work together over the years," Ben said.