Jerry Stiller, who lost his wife and longtime comedy partner, Anne Meara, at age 85 in May, opens up to Closer Weekly for the first time, insisting that the best thing that ever happened in his life was finding her.

“I miss her,” Jerry, 88, who spent 61 years married to Anne, exclusively tells Closer. “She was a presence.”

“There were no walls between us in any way. We both knew what the other was thinking even when we weren’t listening,” he explains. “We also shared the same desire to be in front of an audience and make people laugh.”

jerry stiller and anne meara
Getty Images

Jerry and Anne at a NYC event in 2012.

The couple met in 1953 at a talent agency where Anne was looking for a partner for her vaudeville act. “Anne was as funny as anybody who was considered a giant in comedy back when we started,” Jerry tells the magazine.

While Anne thrived on making people chuckle, it was her and Jerry’s children, Ben, 49, and Amy, 54, who became her greatest joy. “She loved being a mother,” Jerry remembers. “That was even more important to her than being onstage.”

And even though it has been difficult, Jerry says that Anne’s death has brought him even closer to their children, Ben and Amy.

For the full interview with Jerry, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!