While 92 is a accomplishment, and he has lived a life worth worth celebrating, his passing is another blotch on an already dark and surreal time for us.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mr. Stiller a number of times over the years at Nutmeg on various projects. He was as sweet as you could imagine from visit one. On his second visit, while I was still in Studio B, he came into the room and sat down to a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin. We chatted for a moment, and then as I was prepping our session he started talking behind me. “You know what I like about working with you? I don’t feel like I’m coming in to work. It feels more like you’re preparing a nice, warm meal to enjoy!” I was flattered.
A while later, he came in with his wife to record the sequel to the animated feature ‘Planes: Fire and Rescue’. They played a pair of RVs named Harvey and Winnie. It was my first and only time to watch them both in action, and it was as amazing as you’d expect. It prompted me to search online for any and all clips of them doing what they do. They were just magical together. Like so many actors, Jerry was a bit more quiet when he wasn’t “on”. That was not the case with Anne Meara. She was on fire from the moment she entered the room!
On the day they recorded together, they played so well off each other that there are probably more outtakes than there are scripted takes. They could have carried that movie! At the end of the session, the director said “We’ll have you back in over the summer for ADR and pickups”, to which she quickly replied with perfect comedic timing “if we’re still HERE!!” Sadly, when that time came, she wasn’t able to come back in and passed shortly after that.
My favorite memory of Jerry was when he came in with Anne, and spotted his favorite muffin waiting for him. Everyone was ready to get rolling- but to the confusion of everyone in the room, he started asking questions about his character. Even Anne quipped “what’s to know? Let’s get in the booth!” But he had questions- and shot me a look that said “help me out here!” So I suggested maybe we run the animatics so he could watch the scenes. He smiled a bit as if to say thanks. I realized that what he really wanted was some time to enjoy his muffin and coffee.
As lucky as I feel to have worked with him and gotten to know him in the limited way I did, I envy those that got to work with them on longer term TV shows and projects. Thanks for the memories, and a lifetime of laughs left behind. I’ll certainly take time out today to watch some classic clips. RIP to one of my favorite entries into the Faster and Funnier gallery and books.