Jerry Stiller Once Chased a Kid Through New York For Stealing Ben Stiller’s Bike

People continue telling funny, heartwarming stories about Jerry Stiller in the weeks since his passing on May 11. His son, Ben, has one of the largest archives of Jerry Stiller stories.

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Ben went on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on May 20 to tell more. He went all the way back to childhood to tell a story about how his father ont only took care of him, but looked out for other kids too.

How a kid became the perp in a Jerry Stiller chase

Ben told the story of how another kid stole his bike. Remember, before cell phones, a bike was a child’s lynchpin to everything until they could drive.

“Growing up in the ’70s in New York, first of all it was a whole other world,” Stiller told Fallon. “I had my bike stolen when I was about 11 years old, 11 or 12 in Riverside Park. I was with a friend and this kid came over and said, ‘Hey, can I take a ride on your bike?’ My friend said that kid was cool. The kid took the bike and never came back.”

Jerry Stiller immediately took Ben Stiller to buy a new back

Jerry was already a good provider by the time Ben was a kid. His comedy act with his wife, Anne Meara, already put food on the table before they had kids.

So my dad took me to buy another bike, to buy a secondhand bike, get a Schwinn three speed,” Stiller said. “We were at the bike store on Amsterdam Avenue and I saw the kid who took my bike riding on my bike. I said, ‘Dad, that’s the kid.’”

Jerry would not let this bicycle thief get away with it. 

Jerry Stiller
Jerry Stiller | Mike Pont/Getty Images

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“He started running after the kid,” Stiller said. “He chased him down. The kid’s riding the bike and saw that my dad’s running after him, like three, four blocks on Amsterdam Avenue and turned down 86th Street. A long run. He used to run at the Y all the time so he’d trained for it I guess.”

Ben Stiller says his dad had a touching change of heart

Jerry caught up with the bicycle thief and went in to confront him. Ben waited outside, but all he knows is something changed his father’s mind. 

Jerry Stiller | Brian Ach/Getty Images for Henri Bendel

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“The kid went into this lower level of a walkup on 86th Street,” Stiller said. “My dad said, ‘Wait here. I’m going to go in.’ He went in. 10 minutes go by and he comes out and he doesn’t have the bike. He said, ‘We’re going to let him keep the bike. He needs it. I’ll go get you another one.’ He let the kid keep the bike because he felt bad. I wasn’t happy at the time. I wanted my bike back.”

Jerry Stiller was a good grandpa too

When Ben had children, Jerry was a good grandfather to them too. He came to Ella Stiller’s fourth grade play, although he had some notes for the class when it was over. 

Ben Stiller and Ella Stiller | Bruce Glikas/WireImage

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“Afterwards I said, ‘Dad, what did you think?’” Stiller said. “And he said, ‘I didn’t care for it. I didn’t care for it.’ ‘Dad, What are you talking about?’ He goes, ‘Ella had the commitment and she was shining up there, but I didn’t feel the rest of the kids were up to it.’ He wasn’t kidding and my mom was like, ‘Jerry, what the hell are you talking about? It’s a fourth grade play.’ ‘I just didn’t feel it.’ It really bothered him.”