Jerry Seinfeld

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This article is about the comedian. For the character he portrays on Seinfeld, see Jerry Seinfeld (character).
Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld by David Shankbone.jpg
Jerry Seinfeld at the Tribeca Film Festival 2010
Birth name Jerome Allen Seinfeld
Born (1954-04-29) April 29, 1954 (age 60)
Brooklyn, New York, US
Medium Television, stand up
Alma mater Queens College
Years active 1976–present
Genres Observational comedy, political satire, black comedy
Subject(s) American culture, American politics, avant-garde, human behavior, gender differences, everyday life
Spouse Jessica Seinfeld
(1999–present; 3 children)
Notable works and roles Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld
Signature Seinfeldsignature.svg
Emmy Awards
Outstanding Comedy Series
1993 Seinfeld
Golden Globe Awards
Best Actor – Musical or Comedy Series
1994 Seinfeld
Screen Actors Guild Awards
Outstanding Ensemble – Comedy Series
1995 Seinfeld
1997 Seinfeld
1998 Seinfeld
American Comedy Awards
Funniest Male Performer in a TV Series (Leading Role) Network, Cable or Syndication
1992, 1993 Seinfeld
Comedy Club Stand-Up Comic – Male
1988 Lifetime Achievement

Jerome Allen "Jerry" Seinfeld (born April 29, 1954) is an American comedian, actor, writer, and television/film producer, best known for playing a semi-fictional version of himself in the sitcom Seinfeld (1989–1998), which he co-created and co-wrote with Larry David. For the show's final two seasons, they were co-executive producers.

In his first major foray back into the media since the finale of Seinfeld, he co-wrote and co-produced the 2007 film Bee Movie, also voicing the lead role of Barry B. Benson. In February 2010, Seinfeld premiered a reality TV series called The Marriage Ref on NBC. Seinfeld directed Colin Quinn in the Broadway show Long Story Short at the Helen Hayes Theater in New York which ran until January 8, 2011. More recently, Seinfeld has been the creator and host of the web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Seinfeld is known for specializing in observational humor, often focusing on personal relationships and uncomfortable social obligations. In 2005, Comedy Central ranked Jerry Seinfeld 12th out of 100 as the greatest comedians of all time in its five-part special The 100 Greatest Standups of All Time.[1]

Early life[edit]

Jerry Seinfeld was born in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. His father, Kálmán Seinfeld (1918–1985), was a sign maker of Hungarian Jewish[2][3] descent;[4] his mother, Betty (née Hesney; born 1915),[5] is of Syrian Jewish descent; her family lived in Aleppo.[6]

Seinfeld grew up in Massapequa, New York and attended Massapequa High School.[7] At the age of 16, he spent a short period of time volunteering in Kibbutz Sa'ar in Israel.[8] He went to SUNY Oswego, and after his second year he transferred to Queens College, City University of New York, graduating with a degree in communications and theater.[4]

Career beginnings[edit]

Seinfeld developed an interest in stand-up comedy after brief stints in college productions.[9] In 1976, after graduation from Queens College, he tried out at an open-mic night at New York City's Catch a Rising Star, which led to an appearance in a Rodney Dangerfield HBO special.[4] In 1979, he had a small recurring role on the sitcom Benson, playing Frankie, a mail delivery boy who had comedy routines that no one wanted to hear. However, Seinfeld was abruptly fired from the show due to creative differences.[4] Seinfeld has said that he was not actually told he had been fired until he turned up for the read-through session for an episode, and found that there was no script for him.[10] In May 1981, Seinfeld made a successful appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, impressing Carson and the audience and leading to regular appearances on that show and others, including Late Night with David Letterman.[4]

Seinfeld[edit]

Main article: Seinfeld
Seinfeld with Julia Louis-Dreyfus at the 1997 Emmy Awards

Seinfeld created The Seinfeld Chronicles with Larry David in 1988 for NBC. The show was later renamed Seinfeld to avoid confusion with the short-lived teen sitcom The Marshall Chronicles. By its fourth season, it had become the most popular and successful sitcom on American television. The final episode aired in 1998, and the show has been a popular syndicated re-run.

Along with Seinfeld himself, the show starred Saturday Night Live veteran Julia Louis-Dreyfus and experienced actors Michael Richards and Jason Alexander. Alexander played George, a caricature of Larry David. Seinfeld holds the distinction of being the only actor to appear in every episode of the show.[11]

Seinfeld has said that his show was influenced by the 1950s sitcom The Abbott and Costello Show. In the "Seinfeld Season 6" DVD set, commenting on the episode "The Gymnast", Seinfeld cited Jean Shepherd as an influence, saying, "He really formed my entire comedic sensibility—I learned how to do comedy from Jean Shepherd."

From 2004–2007, the former Seinfeld cast and crew recorded audio commentaries for episodes of the DVD releases of the show. Seinfeld himself provided commentary for numerous episodes.

Post-Seinfeld[edit]

1998–2006[edit]

After his sitcom ended, Seinfeld returned to comedy instead of continuing his acting career. In 1998, he went on tour and recorded a comedy special, entitled I'm Telling You for the Last Time. The process of developing and performing new material at clubs around the world was chronicled in a 2002 documentary, Comedian, which also featured fellow comic Orny Adams and was directed by Christian Charles. Seinfeld has written several books, mostly archives of past routines.

In the late 1990s, Apple Computer came up with the advertising slogan "Think different" and produced a 60-second commercial to promote the slogan. This commercial showed people who were able to "think differently", such as Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and many others. It was later cut short to 30 seconds and altered such that Seinfeld was included at the end, whereas he hadn't been in the original cut. This shorter version of the commercial aired only once, during the series finale of Seinfeld.[12]

Seinfeld at the 1997 Emmy Awards.

In 2004, Seinfeld also appeared in two commercial webisodes promoting American Express, titled The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman. In these, Seinfeld appeared together with an animated rendering of Superman, who was referenced in numerous episodes of Seinfeld as Seinfeld's hero, voiced by Patrick Warburton, who had portrayed David Puddy on Seinfeld. The webisodes were directed by Barry Levinson. Seinfeld and "Superman" were also interviewed by Matt Lauer in a specially-recorded interview for the Today show.

On May 13, 2006, Seinfeld had a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live as host Julia Louis-Dreyfus' assassin. Louis-Dreyfus in her opening monologue mentioned the "Seinfeld Curse". While talking about how ridiculous the "curse" was, a stage light suddenly fell next to her. The camera moved to a catwalk above the stage that Seinfeld was standing on, holding a large pair of bolt cutters. He angrily muttered, "Dammit!", upset that it didn't hit her. Louis-Dreyfus then continued to say that she is indeed not cursed.

2007[edit]

On February 25, 2007, Seinfeld appeared at the 79th Academy Awards as the presenter for "Best Documentary". Before announcing the nominations, he did a bit of a stand-up comedy routine about the unspoken agreement between movie theater owners and movie patrons.

On October 4, 2007, Seinfeld made a brief return to NBC, guest-starring as himself in the 30 Rock episode "SeinfeldVision".[13]

2008[edit]

On February 24, 2008, at the 80th Academy Awards Seinfeld appeared as the voice of his Bee Movie animated character Barry, presenting "Best Animated Short". Before announcing the nominees, he showed a montage of film clips featuring bees, claiming that they were some of his early work (as Barry).

On June 2, 2008, amidst his spring 2008 tour, Seinfeld made a stop in his hometown of New York City for a one-night-only performance at the Hammerstein Ballroom to benefit Stand Up for a Cure, a charity aiding lung cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

In August 2008, the Associated Press reported that Jerry Seinfeld would be the pitchman for Windows Vista, as part of a $300 million advertising campaign by Microsoft. The ads, which were intended to create buzz for Windows in support of the subsequent "I'm a PC" advertisements, began airing in mid-September 2008. They were cut from television after just 3 installments; Microsoft opted to continue with the "I'm a PC" advertisements[14] and run the Seinfeld ads on the Microsoft website as a series of longer advertisements.[15]

2009[edit]

In March 2009, it was announced that Seinfeld and the entire cast of Seinfeld would be appearing for a reunion in Larry David's HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. The fictional reunion took place in the seventh season's finale.

Seinfeld appeared on an episode of the Starz original series Head Case. As was the case in many of his previous guest appearances on sitcoms, he played himself.

In Australia, Seinfeld appears on a series of advertisements for The Greater Building Society, a building society based in New South Wales and southeastern Queensland.[16] His appearance in these ads was highly publicized and considered a coup for the society, being only the third time Seinfeld had appeared in a television commercial.[17] The advertisements were filmed in Cedarhurst, Long Island, with the street designed to emulate Beaumont Street in Hamilton, where the Greater's head offices are located.[18] Seinfeld also wrote the scripts for the 15 advertisements that were filmed. The ads largely aired in the Northern New South Wales television market, where the society has most of its branches.

Seinfeld was the first guest on Jay Leno's talk show, The Jay Leno Show, which premiered on September 14, 2009.

2010s[edit]

Seinfeld was featured on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update sketch to do the "Really!?!" segment with Seth Meyers. He executive produced and occasionally starred as a panelist in The Marriage Ref. On August 30, 2010, Seinfeld made a notable surprise guest appearance on The Howard Stern Show, repairing the falling out the two had in the early 90s.

Seinfeld toured the US in 2011 and made his first appearance on stage in the UK in 13 years. In July 2011, he was a surprise guest on The Daily Show, helping Jon Stewart to suppress his urge to tell "cheap" "Michele Bachmann's husband acts gay" jokes.[19] Seinfeld also launched a personal archives website at JerrySeinfeld.com and appeared in the HBO special Talking Funny with fellow comedians Chris Rock, Louis C.K., and Ricky Gervais in the same year.

In 2012, he began an Internet comedy series titled Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.[20] In 2013, Seinfeld is reportedly working with rapper Wale on his fourth studio album, The Album About Nothing.[21] In June 2013, he appeared on rapper Wale's album The Gifted, on the song "Outro About Nothing".[22]

During a January 2014 interview on the “Boomer & Carton” show on radio station WFAN, Seinfeld revealed that a Seinfeld project was being developed in which Alexander will play George Costanza character alongside other “Seinfeld” characters, as well as David. Rumors of a potential reunion were triggered by a photograph that appeared on Twitter in which Seinfeld and Alexander are walking into "Tom's Restaurant," the famous diner from the Seinfeld series.[23]

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee[edit]

In 2012, Seinfeld started a web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, in which he would pick up a fellow comedian in a different car each episode and take him or her out for coffee and conversation. The initial series comprised ten 7- to 25-minute episodes. Season 2 (2013) had six episodes, with guests including Don Rickles and David Letterman.[24]

In 2013, Seinfeld was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for the series.[25] When criticized in early 2014 for the lack of women and non-white comedians in the series, he responded, "Who cares? ... You're funny, I'm interested. You're not funny, I'm not."[26]

Influences[edit]

Seinfeld has said his comic influences include Jean Shepherd, [27] Bill Cosby,[28] George Carlin,[29] Jay Leno,[30] Robert Klein,[29] Abbott and Costello,[31] and Ricardo Montalban.[32]

Among those who say that they have been influenced by Seinfeld are Judd Apatow[33] and Kevin Hart.[33]

Dennis Miller has called him "probably the greatest joke writer ever. ... I find interviews with Jerry to be about as illuminating as anybody in the culture. ... He's probably the funniest comedian of our generation."[34]

Books[edit]

Seinfeld wrote the book Seinlanguage, released in 1993. Written as his television show was first rising in popularity, it is primarily an adaptation of the comedian's standup material. The title comes from an article in Entertainment Weekly listing the numerous catch-phrases for which the show was responsible.[35] In 2002, he wrote the children's book Halloween. The book was illustrated by James Bennett.[36]

He wrote the forewords to Ted L. Nancy's Letters from a Nut series of books and Ed Broth's Stories from a Moron.[37] Seinfeld also wrote the foreword to the Peanut Butter & Co. Cookbook.

Personal life[edit]

Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld in 2010.

Years before Seinfeld was created, Seinfeld dated Carol Leifer,[38][39] a fellow comedian and one of the inspirations for the Seinfeld character of Elaine.[40][41] When he was in his late 30s, Seinfeld began a four-year romantic relationship with then-17-year-old high school student Shoshanna Lonstein.[42]

In August 1998 Seinfeld met Jessica Sklar at the Reebok Sports Club and they began dating. Sklar, a public relations executive for Tommy Hilfiger, had just returned from a three-week honeymoon in Italy with Eric Nederlander, a theatrical producer and scion of a theater-owning family. Sklar divorced Nederlander—she explained in a 2007 interview that they had been engaged in couples therapy sessions prior to their marriage—and married Seinfeld on December 25, 1999.[43][44] Comedian George Wallace was the best man at the wedding.[45]

After the nuptials, Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld bought Billy Joel's house in Amagansett, Long Island for US$32 million after news of the couple's interest in the property became public in 2000.[46][47]

As of January 2014, the Seinfelds have one daughter and two sons. Their daughter Sascha was born in 2000;[48] their first son Julian Kal was born in 2003;[49] and their second son Shepherd Kellen was born in 2005—all in New York City, U.S.[50][51] Julian's middle name Kal is the first name of Seinfeld's father and also the first name of Seinfeld's hero Superman, aka Kal-El. Among Seinfeld's best friends are fellow comedians Wallace, Larry Miller, and Mario Joyner.[52]

In 2000, Jessica Seinfeld launched Baby Buggy, a charity that provides clothing and gear for underprivileged women and children. She is also the author of the best-seller Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, released by HarperCollins in October 2007.[53]

Seinfeld is recorded as having made several political contributions, including George W. Bush and Al Gore's presidential campaigns in 2000, and subsequently to four Democratic Party primary candidates in 2000 and 2004.[54]

Seinfeld stated that he dabbled in Scientology during his 20s,[55] although he says he was never in the organization.[56][57] The association came to light in 1992.[56]

A fan of the New York Mets, Seinfeld periodically calls Steve Somers' show on WFAN-AM, a sports talk radio station, as "Jerry from Queens".[58] Seinfeld called four innings of a Mets game on SportsNet New York on June 23, 2010, reuniting with analyst Keith Hernandez, who appeared in the Seinfeld two part episode, "The Boyfriend".[59]

In December 2012, Seinfeld said that he had been practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) for 40 years. He promoted the use of the technique in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder with Bob Roth of the David Lynch Foundation in December 2012 on the Good Morning America television show,[60] and also appeared at a 2009 David Lynch Foundation benefit for TM, at which former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr appeared.[61]

Personal wealth[edit]

According to Forbes magazine, Seinfeld's annual earning from Seinfeld in 2004 was US$267 million, placing him at the top of the celebrity "money rank" that year.[62] He reportedly turned down US$5 million per episode, for 22 episodes, to continue the show for a tenth season.[63]

Seinfeld earned US$100 million from syndication deals and stand-up appearances in 2005 and US$60 million in 2006.[64][65] He also earned US$10 million for appearing with Bill Gates in Microsoft's 2008 advertisements for Windows.[66]

Between June 2008 and June 2009, Seinfeld earned US$85 million, making him the world's highest-paid comedian during that 12-month period.[67] In 2013, Forbes documented Seinfeld's annual income as US$32 million.[68] In mid-2013, Seinfeld disputed Forbes' claims regarding his income and net worth on the radio show of Howard Stern.[69] On 21st May 2014, with an estimated net worth of $820 million, he emerged as the wealthiest actor alive according to the Wealth-X Hollywood and Bollywood Rich List. [70]

Car collection[edit]

Seinfeld, an automobile enthusiast and avid collector, owns a large Porsche collection.[71] He rented a hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, in Santa Monica, California, for an extended period of time during the 1990s for storage of some of the vehicles in the collection.[citation needed]

One tally has Seinfeld owning 46 Porsches.[72] Paul Bannister has written that Seinfeld's collection includes Porsche 911s from various years, 10 Porsche Boxsters each painted a different color, and the famous 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, the same model and pearl-grey color that actor James Dean was driving when he crashed and died.[73] The Discovery Channel television show Chasing Classic Cars[which?] claims that Seinfeld owns the first and last air-cooled Porsche 911s produced. The centerpiece is a $700,000 Porsche 959, one of only 337 built. He was not allowed to drive it, due to the fact that the car was "not street-legal", which is because US emission and crash tests were never performed for the model since Porsche refused to donate four Porsche 959s for destruction tests. He imported the car "for exhibition purposes", on the stipulation that it may never be driven on US roads.[73] The car was made US street legal in 1999 under the "Show and Display" federal law.[74][75] Seinfeld wrote an article for the February 2004 issue of Automobile, reviewing the Porsche Carrera GT.[76]

In 2008, Seinfeld was involved in a car accident when the brakes on his 1967 Fiat 500 failed and—to avoid an intersection—he pulled the emergency brake while turning sharply, ultimately causing the car to come to a stop on its side. Seinfeld was unhurt.[77]

Credits[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
1984 The Ratings Game Network Rep
1999 Pros & Cons Prison Man No. 2
2002 Comedian Himself
2004 A Uniform Used to Mean Something Himself
Hindsight Is 20/20 Himself
2007 Bee Movie Barry B. Benson Voice, Producer, Co-writer
Nominated – Producers Guild of America Award for Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award – Animated
Nominated – Kids Choice Award for Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie
2014 Top Five

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1980 Benson Frankie
1989–1998 Seinfeld Jerry Seinfeld American Comedy Award for Funniest Male Performer in a TV Series (1992, 1993)
Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series (1993)
Golden Globe Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (1995, 1997, 1998)
Nominated – American Comedy Award for Funniest Male Performer in a TV Series (1996, 1999)
Nominated – Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996)
Nominated – Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series[78] (1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998)
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (1996)
1993, 1998 The Larry Sanders Show Himself
1997 NewsRadio Himself
1998 I'm Telling You for the Last Time Himself
2000 Dilbert Comp-U-Comp
2004 Curb Your Enthusiasm Himself (cameo)
2004 Jeopardy Himself
2007 30 Rock Himself ("SeinfeldVision")
2009 Curb Your Enthusiasm Himself
2010 The Marriage Ref Executive Producer
2012–present Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (web series) Himself
2012, 2014 Louie Himself
1999, 2013 Saturday Night Live Himself Appeared in opening monologue of episode 736, hosted by Adam Levine, in a parody of "The Voice"

Writing credits for Seinfeld[edit]

The list below only includes episodes mainly written by Seinfeld, as he (and Larry David in Seasons 1 through 7) rewrote the drafts for each episode.

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

Season 6

Season 7

References[edit]

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  11. ^ Jason Alexander did not appear in "The Pen"; Julia Louis-Dreyfus did not appear in the pilot, "The Trip, Part 1", or "The Trip, Part 2"; and Michael Richards did not appear in "The Chinese Restaurant" or "The Pen".
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