Comedian Anne Meara was born in a Brooklyn hospital on Sept. 20, 1929 to first-generation children of Irish immigrants Mary Dempsey and Edward Joseph Meara, a rising star in the American Standard Co. — which at that time made radiators and sanitary plumbing equipment. She spent the first few years of her life in Queens at 100-15 198 St. in Hollis, on a 40-by-100-square-foot lot with a big backyard to play in, before moving out to 69 Hempstead Ave. in Rockville Centre, Long Island in 1935.
On Oct. 15, 1940, Anne’s mother committed suicide. Her father quickly sent Anne off to Catholic boarding school, but she headed for Greenwich Village to study at the Herbert Berghof HB Studio as soon as she turned 18. She also enrolled in a dramatic workshop at The New School, where she met fellow actor Jerry Stiller. The two created a comedy act, fell in love and married in 1954.
Anne and Jerry appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in 1963, becoming the biggest husband/wife comedy team since Burns and Allen. Audiences found them interesting because of their ancestry — Jerry was Jewish and Anne was Irish. Their act broke up in 1970 and they explored other projects. They later said they “didn’t know where the act ended and our marriage began.” They had two children: Amy, born 1961, and Ben, born 1965. Ben became a comedian like his parents, and named his son, born in 2005, Quinlin Dempsey in honor of Anne’s mother.
Anne passed away on May 23, 2015 at age 85; Jerry followed May 11, 2020 at age 92. Anne’s childhood Hollis home was appraised at $664,000 in 2019.