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Half-Jewish (and then some!): Ben Stiller

Benjamin Edward "Ben" Stiller (born November 30, 1965) is an American comedian, actor, writer, film director, and producer. He is the son of veteran comedians and actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.

After beginning his acting career with a play, Stiller wrote several mockumentaries, and was offered two of his own shows, both entitled The Ben Stiller Show. After acting in a few films, Stiller had his directorial debut with Reality Bites, and has since written, starred in, directed, and/or produced over fifty films and television shows. His films have grossed more than $2.1 billion, with an average of $78 million per film. In 2008, he starred in the film Tropic Thunder, which he also co-wrote, co-produced, and directed.

Stiller is a member of the comedic acting brotherhood colloquially known as the Frat Pack. With multiple cameos in music videos, television shows, and films, he may be best known for his roles in There's Something About Mary, Meet the Parents, Zoolander, Dodgeball, Tropic Thunder and Night at the Museum. Throughout his career, he has received several awards and honors including an Emmy Award, several MTV Movie Awards, and a Teen Choice Award.

Stiller was born in New York City. His father, Jerry Stiller, is Jewish and his mother Anne Meara, who is of Irish Catholic background, converted to Judaism after marrying his father. His parents frequently took him on the sets of their appearances, including an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show when he was six. He admitted in an interview that he considered his childhood unusual: "In some ways, it was a show-business upbringing—a lot of traveling, a lot of late nights—not what you'd call traditional." His sister, actress Amy Stiller, has made appearances in many of his productions, including The Ben Stiller Show as the Bride of Frankenstein, Reality Bites as a psychic phone operator, and most recently, Tropic Thunder as a script supervisor.

He displayed an early interest in film making and made Super 8 movies with his sister and friends. At 10 years old, he made his acting debut as a guest on his mother's television series Kate McShane. In the late 1970s he performed with the New York City troupe NYC's First All Children's Theater, performing in several roles, including the title role in Clever Jack and the Magic Beanstalk. After being inspired by the television show Second City Television while in high school, Stiller realized that he wanted to get involved with sketch comedy.

Stiller attended the Cathedral School in and graduated from the Calhoun School in New York in 1983. He started performing on the cabaret circuit as opening act to the cabaret siren Jadin Wong. Stiller then enrolled as a film student at the University of California, Los Angeles. After nine months, Stiller left school to move back to New York City. He made his way through acting classes, auditioning, and trying to find an agent.

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