STILLER, BEN (1965– ), U.S. writer, director, actor. Born in New York, n.y., to comedy duo Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara, Stiller attended college at ucla for just nine months, but made his acting debut in New York in John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves (1984). He followed this with his film debut in Fresh Horses (1986). In 1989, he went to work for Saturday Night Live, but lasted only five weeks, describing the backstage atmosphere as "very negative." Stiller returned to Los Angeles, creating a half-hour sketch comedy show, The Ben Stiller Show, which aired on mtv before being picked up by Fox. Although the show was canceled after 12 episodes, it won great critical acclaim, winning a 1993 Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program. Stiller next directed and acted in Reality Bites (1994) (also starring Winona *Ryder, Ethan Hawke, and Janeane Garofalo). He then played a young father searching for his birth parents in the comedy Flirting with Disaster, directed by David O. Russell. The film was both a commercial and critical hit. Two comedies followed: The Cable Guy (starring Jim Carrey and Matthew Broderick), which Stiller directed; and There's Something about Mary, a mega-hit, gross-out comedy in which Stiller starred with Cameron Diaz. Since 2000, Stiller has been incredibly prolific, starring in cult comedies such as Zoolander (2001), flops such as Duplex (2003) and Envy (2004), giant commercial successes such as Meet the Parents (2000) and its sequel Meet the Fockers (2004), as well as being the animated voice of Alex in Madagascar (2005).
[Amy Handelsman (2nd ed.)]