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Anne Meara, Half Of Husband-Wife Comedy Team, Dies At 85

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The actress and comedian Anne Meara has died at the age of 85. She became famous as one half of the comedy team Stiller and Meara. Here's NPR's Bob Mondello.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: In their comedy routines, husband and wife Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara generally played characters much like themselves - he, short and Jewish, she, tall and Catholic.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANNE MEARA: It's really nice though, you know, how all our holidays come at the same time.

JERRY STILLER: Oh, yeah, yeah.

MEARA: I love that one you folks have around Christmas time. What do you call it? You know, the one with all the candles - Chanukkah. That's beautiful.

(LAUGHTER)

STILLER: Oh, you mean, Hanukkah?

MEARA: Yeah, Hanukkah.

STILLER: No, Hanukkah. The C-H is pronounced (imitating Chet).

MEARA: Oh, I see. Well, merry Christmas.

(LAUGHTER)

MONDELLO: The team of Stiller and Meara became a national phenomenon in the 1960s in nightclubs, on TV and in radio ads for Blue Nun Wine.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO AD)

MEARA: See I'm having some friends over for smorgasbord - some shrimps, a little cheese, some meatballs. What kind of wine can you serve with all those things?

STILLER: May I suggest you have a little Blue Nun at your smorgasbord?

MEARA: Oh, I don't think she'd have a very good time. Besides, it's going to be all couples.

MONDELLO: Though they were hugely successful together, from the start, they also worked separately. Meara appeared in character parts in the movie "Fame" and the soap opera "All My Children." She was nominated for four Emmy awards and won a Writers Guild Award as co-writer of the TV movie "The Other Woman." Late in life, she became a successful off-Broadway playwright, and in the last few years, she appeared with her husband in a series of web videos made by their son, actor and director Ben Stiller. Bob Mondello, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: May 25, 2015 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story misspelled Anne Meara's first name.