AN Omagh man has spoken about his family’s heartwarming connections to the famous American actor and comedian, Jerry Stiller, who died last week at the age of 92.
Ray Moore, who lives on the Tamlaght Road, revealed that his daughter Mairead was part of a team of carers who looked after Mr Stiller in his Manhattan apartment for several years up until his death.
Perhaps better known to younger generations as Ben Stiller’s dad, Jerry was very much a star in his own right. He enjoyed a long career on stage and screen, forming a popular comedy duo with his wife, Anne Meara, who died in 2015.
In later years, he starred alongside Ben in such films as Zoolander and also The Heartbreak Kid, where they played father and son.
Talented musician Mr Moore is himself well-known across Ireland from his days playing in various showbands, including The Plattermen.
Due to a number of health problems in more recent times, the 77-year-old is taking life easier these days.
But he couldn’t say no when his daughter called him up from New York and asked him to play a few tunes for Jerry via the FaceTime video calling app.
Explaining how it came about, Mr Moore said, “Mairead rang me one day. I’d just got a new piano and I said to her, ‘Wait until you hear this’ and started to play. It was just an ordinary video call.
“Then, a couple of months later, she rang me and asked me to play a couple of tunes for Jerry, to cheer him up. I said, well surely.
“So, I played for about an hour or more and he sang along with me. They were all old songs from the 30s, 40s and 50s.
“He said to me at the end of it, ‘I gotta get you over to the studio in New York. You do your thing in the studio and I’ll tell a few stories. We’ll record it and we’ll give it to all the old folks. We’ll give them good memories like you done for me today’.”
Although sadly that never got to happen, Mr Moore played piano for the star on two further video calls.
He was sorry to learn of Mr Stiller’s death at the start of last week.
“Jerry was such a nice old man, very funny too. He may have been famous, but he was very down-to-earth when he was talking to me,” Mr Moore added.
Paying tribute to his father on Twitter, Ben Stiller wrote, “I’m sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes. He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad.”