Jerry and his wife, Anne were part of "The Compass Players" (which later became Second City). Then, as Stiller and Meara, they performed at David Gordon's Phase II in Greenwhich Village. They went on to play record-breaking engagements at Max Gordon's Blue Angel and The Village Vanguard. They toured the country playing "Mr. Kelly's, The Hungry i, The Crescendo, The Flamingo and The Sands, working with Count Basie, The original Supremes, Billy Eckstine and Diahann Carroll. Anne and Jerry performed at The Establishment in London, and appeared thirty-six times on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Jerry made his legit debut in "The Silver Whistle" with Burgess Meredith then appeared with Lawrence Tibbett and Veronica Lake in the National Company of "Peter Pan." T. Hambleton and Norris Houghton cast him as a resident in the first two seasons at the Phoenix Theatre, where he appeared in "The Golden Apple" and later "Coriolanous" for John Houseman. He worked again for Houseman at the Stratford Festival.
Broadway has seen Jerry in "Hurlyburly," directed by Mike Nichols, "The Ritz," "Passione," "The Golden Apple," "Unexpected Guests," "Three Men on a Horse," (with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman), "What's Wrong with This Picture?" and "The Three Sisters."
He toured the boroughs in the first season of Joe Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival. He created the role of Launce in John Guare's musical version of "Two Gentlemen of Verona." He also appeared as Dogberry in "Much Ado About Nothing" with Kevin Kline and Blythe Danner. At Lincoln Center, Jerry appeared in David Mamet's "Prairie Du Chien" for Greg Mosher. He played "Bourbouroche" for Walt Witcover's Masterwork Laboratory Theatre. Jerry played Nathan Detroit in "Guys and Dolls," the first musical produced at the Guthrie Theatre. He played opposite his daughter Amy in "I Ought to be in Pictures" and "Beau Jest" on the Straw Hat Circuit. Jerry starred with Anne in her award winning play, "After-Play," at Theatre Four Off-Broadway.
"Shoeshine," which starred Jerry and his son Ben Stiller, was nominated for an Academy Award in the 1988 Short Subject Category. Other film appearances include "The Taking of Pelham One-Two-Three," "Those Lips-Those Eyes," "Airport '75, "Nadine," "The Ritz," "Hairspray" and "The Pickle." He and Anne starred in the Joan Micklin Silver film, "The Fish in the Bathtub" and Jerry starred in "The Independent" opposite Jeaneane Garafolo, and appeared in the film "Zoolander," directed by and starring son Ben.
On television, Jerry received an Emmy Award-nomination and an American Comedy Award for his role as Frank Costanza on "Seinfeld." He also garnered great praise for his role as the charlatan psychoanalyst, Dr. Tamkin, opposite Robin Williams, in a PBS Great Performance of Saul Bellow's "Seize The Day" produced by Robert Geller. He appeared in "The Hollow Boy" again for Geller. Jerry and Anne starred together in "The Detective" (part of The Sunset Gang on American Playhouse). He appeared in the HBO film "Subway Stories" and as the Devil's Advocate in "Tales From the Darkside" He co-starred on the series "Joe and Sons" and "Tattinger's" and has guest starred on "Murder She Wrote," "Law and Order," " LA Law," "In the Heat of the Night," " Homicide," and "Touched by an Angel." Currently, Jerry‘s voice will soon be heard as Uncle Max in Disney's "Lion King III."
Jerry is a graduate of Syracuse University where he studied with Professor Sawyer Folk and has taught at the Herbert Berghof Studio. His autobiography, Married to Laughter is published by Simon and Schuster and the audio version, read by Jerry, was nominated for a Grammy in the Spoken Word category.