Remembering Jerry Stiller
What a loss.
I grew up watching Jerry Stiller bring us Arthur Spooner on The King of Queens, a character who became something that only Jerry Stiller could have made him. He was a force like no other; unique and effective.
He seemed to nail every moment onscreen, be it acting big or small; broad or nuanced. There was a nuance in his broadness, and a relatable broadness in his nuance.
Some call Arthur Spooner another Frank Costanza, but he’s not. So much of the difference lies in the heart Jerry brought to the Arthur character.
My dad & I quote Arthur often — so much of that due to Jerry Stiller’s delivery. We’ll continue to forever.
I live near the house in Astoria, Queens, that served as the establishing shot for Frank & Estelle Costanza’s home in Seinfeld. I’m out of the city right now and sad I can’t go see it today in memoriam.
In a wonderful 2010 video from The Daily News, Jerry Stiller visited the Costanza house for the first time. The genuine warmth he exudes in that video is worth watching.
I got to see Jerry Stiller in person when he was on Katie in 2012. He had come on to do a surprise walk-out for Kevin James, but they shot an interview with Jerry in the green room. A crowd of staff formed around the shot like I hadn’t seen before for other guests, just to watch him. He was beloved.
He was not particularly lively in the interview — he was 85 at the time, and his answers ambled and drifted a bit, as they often do at that age — but I hung on his every word, because it’s hard not to with somebody of that kindness, caliber, and legacy; and also because he meant so much to me as Arthur, and I figured the world wouldn’t have him much longer. I’m glad I was wrong about the latter. We had him another 7 years. With work so resonant, we’ll have him forever.