Anne Meara, 85*, and John Nash, 86

anne-meara-nyt.jpgAnne Meara, the longtime comedian and actress in Hollywood and on stage, died Saturday at age 85. Her family, which includes her husband and comedy partner Jerry Stiller and son Ben Stiller, announced that she had died but gave no other details. A statement released to Associated Press said that Jerry Stiller was Meara’s “husband and partner in life.” The statement added, “The two were married for 61 years and worked together almost as long.” The New York Times says that she died in Manhattan.

(* Fixed her age. My mistake. At least I erred in the younger direction.)

From the NYT obit:

Ms. Meara was an experienced but relatively unknown stage actress when she joined forces with Jerry Stiller, as members of the Compass Players, an improvisational theater troupe that evolved into Second City (where another male-female team, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, had gotten their start), and later on their own as Stiller and Meara. The duo began performing in New York nightclubs in 1961 and within a year had become a national phenomenon.

But even during the heyday of Stiller and Meara, Ms. Meara also pursued a separate career as an actress. She had already amassed an impressive list of stage credits before beginning her comedy career, including an Obie Award-winning performance in “Mädchen in Uniform” in 1955 and roles in several Shakespeare in the Park productions. (She was a witch in “Macbeth” in 1957.)

She later appeared both on and off Broadway, in films, and especially on television, where she was seen on a wide range of series, from “Rhoda” and “Archie Bunker’s Place” on CBS to “Sex and the City” and “Oz” on HBO.

A tall redhead with a brassy voice and a self-confident demeanor, Ms. Meara was a natural for comedy but frequently played dramatic parts as well. “Comedy, drama, it’s the same deal,” she said in an interview for the Archive of American Television in 2008. “You don’t really act differently; you just make adjustments.”

John Nash, Jr. and his wife Alicia were killed on Saturday when their taxicab crashed on the New Jersey Turnpike, throwing both of them out of the vehicle. Nash, 86, was the genius mathematician and 1994 Nobel Prize winner whose severe mental illness was the subject of a book by Sylvia Nasar and the Oscar-winning best picture of 2002, “A Beautiful Mind.” Jennifer Connelly won the supporting actress Oscar for her portrayal of Alicia Nash, who was 82 at her death. Russell Crowe was nominated for his portrayal of John Nash in the lead role. The taxi driver said he lost control of his cab and was not arrested.

"Dr. Nash was widely regarded as one of the great mathematicians of the 20th century, known for the originality of his thinking and for his fearlessness in wrestling down problems so difficult few others dared tackle them," the New York Times writes. Early in his professional life, John Nash was a consultant at Rand in Santa Monica.

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