Seinfeld fans mourn sad loss of Estelle Harris

The West Australian
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Estelle Harris rose to fame as George Costanza's short-fused mother on TV sitcom Seinfeld.
Camera IconEstelle Harris rose to fame as George Costanza's short-fused mother on TV sitcom Seinfeld. Credit: AP

Actor Estelle Harris, best known for playing George Costanza’s mother on popular sitcom Seinfeld has died at the age of 93.

Her son Glen Harris said the New York-born star died of natural causes at home in Palm Desert, California on April 2, two days before what would have been her 94th birthday.

Harris also provided the voice of Mrs. Potato Head in the Toy Story animated film franchise.

“It is with the greatest remorse and sadness to announce that Estelle Harris has passed on this evening at 6.25pm,” her son told Deadline.

“Her kindness, passion, sensitivity, humor, empathy, and love were practically unrivalled, and she will be terribly missed by all those who knew her.”

While she acted in more than 100 films in a career spanning 45 years, Harris often played maternal figures on screen — none more famous than the shrill-voiced Estelle Costanza in close to 30 episodes of Seinfeld between 1992 and 1998.

She starred opposite Jerry Stiller, who played her equally abrasive husband Frank Costanza and died in 2020.

The two showbiz veterans provided many of Seinfeld’s most hilarious moments, mostly at the expense of the long-suffering George.

Estelle Harris as Estelle Costanza, Jason Alexander as George Costanza and Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza.
Camera IconEstelle Harris as Estelle Costanza, Jason Alexander as George Costanza and Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza. Credit: NBC/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Harris was born in Manhattan to Polish immigrants, who ran a lolly shop.

In 1953, she married Sy Harris, the couple had three children: Eric, Glen and Taryn.

After acting in community theatre while raising her family, Harris got her start on Looking Up and then Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America before landing a three-episode deal on Night Court.

She eventually found stardom with roles in The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, iCarly, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Proud Family, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and more.

VideoFriends and fellow actors have remembered comedian and star of Seinfeld Jerry Stiller, who passed away aged 92

But Harris will forever be remembered for her scene-stealing turns as the melodramatic and obnoxious Estelle Costanza from Seinfeld.

“I’m the universal mother,” she told the Chicago Tribune in 1995.

“Black people, Asians, WASPs, Italians, Jews — they all say ‘Oh, you’re just like my mom’. That makes me feel good.”

Harris also lent her unique voice to Madison Avenue, featuring in as many as 25 commercials a year.

She is survived by three children and three grandchildren and a great grandson.

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