Estelle Harris

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Estelle Harris
Estelle Harris - Ponyo - USA premiere.jpg
Harris at the premiere of Ponyo in 2009
Estelle Nussbaum

(1928-04-22)April 22, 1928
DiedApril 2, 2022(2022-04-02) (aged 93)
Occupation(s)Actress, comedienne
Years active1977–2019
Height5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)[1]
Sy Harris
(m. 1953; died 2021)

Estelle Harris (née Nussbaum; April 22, 1928 – April 2, 2022) was an American actress and comedienne, known for her exaggerated shrill, grating voice. She was best known for her role as Estelle Costanza on Seinfeld. Her other roles included the voice of Mrs. Potato Head in the Toy Story franchise, Muriel in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, and Mama Gunda in Tarzan II. During her career, Harris starred in various television commercials.

Early life and education[edit]

Harris was born Estelle Nussbaum in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, New York on April 22, 1928, the younger of two daughters of Isaac ("Ira") and Anna Nussbaum, Polish Jewish immigrants who owned a candy store and soda shop. For many years, her date of birth was mistakenly cited as April 4, 1928. The correct date was not revealed until after her death.[3][4] In 1935, when she was seven years old, the family relocated to Tarentum, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Tarentum High School.[1]


Harris began her career in amateur productions and in dinner theater before moving on to regional theaters and summer stock productions across the country.

She later found success on Madison Avenue as she appeared in as many as 25 national television commercials in a single year, earning her the nickname "Queen of Commercials."

After her children grew up, Harris pursued acting and achieved early success in television commercials, even logging 23 spots in a year at one point. In one of her most-famous commercials, she energetically sang the praises of Handi-Wrap II.[5]

In 1977, Harris began her long format acting career in the film Looking Up about three generations of a working class Jewish family in New York City. She became widely known for her supporting role as Estelle Costanza on Seinfeld. "She is the mother that everybody loves, even though she's a pain in the neck," Harris told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1998. Despite her iconic role, she was highly reclusive.

In Star Trek: Voyager, she portrayed the old woman who was actually a projection of the Nechani Spirits in the third-season episode "Sacred Ground," which aired on October 20, 1996.[6] She played a small role as Bridget in Out to Sea (1997).[6]

In Toy Story 2 (1999), she provided the voice of Mrs. Potato Head and would continue to reprise the role for the rest of the franchise. In 2005, she lent her voice to Mama Gunda in Tarzan II. In The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Harris had a recurring role as Muriel. In 2007, she appeared in Brad Paisley's music video for the song "Online."[7] Harris reprised her role of Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story 3 (2010). She portrayed Bertha Kristal, the mother of CBGB founder Hilly Kristal, in CBGB (2013).

Her other voice work included Lula in Dave the Barbarian, Mama Lipsky in Kim Possible, Thelma in The Proud Family, Mrs. Turtle in Mickey Mouse Works and House of Mouse, Death's mother in Family Guy, the Old Lady Bear in Brother Bear (2003), and Audrey in Home on the Range (2004).[8] She also provided the voice of Marty's wife in the American Dad! episode "In Country...Club."[citation needed] She appeared in Promoted (2015) as Sylvia Silver. Harris retired from acting in 2015.

Harris came out of her retirement to reprise her role of Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story 4 (2019), which was her final film role.

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1952, after moving back to New York, Harris met window treatment salesman Sy Harris at a dance. Six months later, they were married.[2] They had two sons, Eric (born 1957) and Glen (born 1961), and a daughter Taryn (born 1964).[2] Eric is a social worker, Glen is a music promoter who doubled as his mother's unofficial manager, and Taryn is a former Nassau County police officer retired on disability.[2] Harris also had three grandsons and one great-grandson. Once her children started school, Harris pursued acting roles, first in amateur productions, then dinner theatre and commercials.[2]

On September 20, 2001, the couple's car blew a tire and flipped twice, but they managed to escape serious injuries.[9] Sy Harris died on January 11, 2021, predeceasing his wife by one year.[10]

On April 2, 2022, Harris died of natural causes at her home in Palm Desert, California, at the age of 93.[4]



Year Title Role Notes
1984 Once Upon a Time in America Thelma
1988 Stand and Deliver Jackie Harris
1992 This Is My Life Aunt Harriet
1995 Perfect Alibi Aunt Dorothy
The West Side Waltz Estelle
1997 Out to Sea Bridget
1998 Chairman of the Board Ms. Dawn Krubavitch
The Odd Couple II Peaches
My Giant Aunt Pearl
1999 Lost & Found Mrs. Donna Stubblefield
Toy Story 2 Mrs. Potato Head Voice
2000 What's Cooking? Aunt Bea
Dancing in September Sally
Playing Mona Lisa Aunt Velva
2001 Good Advice Iris
2003 Brother Bear Old Lady Bear Voice
2004 Home on the Range Audrey
Teacher's Pet Mrs. June Boogin
2005 Tarzan II Mama Gunda Voice; direct-to-video
2006 Queer Duck: The Movie Mrs. Catherina Duckstein Voice
2007 The Grand Ruth Melvin
2010 Toy Story 3 Mrs. Potato Head Voice
Movin' In Arlene Taylor
2011 Hawaiian Vacation Mrs. Potato Head Voice; short film
Small Fry
2012 Partysaurus Rex
2013 CBGB Bertha Kristal
2015 Promoted Sylvia Silver
2019 Toy Story 4 Mrs. Potato Head Voice; final film role


Year Title Role Notes
1985–1986 Night Court Easy Mary 3 episodes
1987 Married... with Children Delilah Episode: "Al Loses His Cherry"
1990 Mathnet Agnes Episode: "The Case of the Swami Scam"
1991 Brooklyn Bridge Esther Shapiro Episode: "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling"
1992 Law & Order Mrs. Lynn Rachlin Episode: "Intolerance"
Mad About You Mother Thelma Episode: "Sofa's Choice"
1992–1998 Seinfeld Estelle Costanza 27 episodes
1993 Good Advice Ronnie Cohen 5 episodes
1995 Chicago Hope Thelma Johnson (uncredited) Episode: "Heartbreak"
Aladdin Additional voices Episode: "While the City Snoozes"
Timon & Pumbaa Timon's Mother Voice; episode: "Mombasa-In-Law/The Laughing Hyenas: TV Dinner"
In the House Mrs. Claus Episode: "Christmas Story"
1996 Night Stand with Dick Dietrick Mary the Real Mother Episode: "Dick Goes Home"
The Mask: Animated Series Lt. Kellaway's Mother (voice) Episode: "The Mother of All Hoods"
The Tick Arthur's Mother (voice) Episode: "The Tick vs. Dot and Neil's Wedding"
Star Trek: Voyager Old Woman Episode: "Sacred Ground"
1997 Moesha Frances Howie Episode: "Break a Leg"
Living Single Esther Brooks Episode: "Back in the Day"
Cybill Woman Episode: "From Boca, with Love"
1998 Addams Family Reunion Great-grandmother Delilah Addams Television film
Hercules Phil's Mother Voice; episode: "Hercules and the King for a Day"
The Wild Thornberrys Iguana/Turtle Voice; episode: "Eliza-cology"
Godzilla: The Series Old Lady/Receptionist Voice; episode: "What Dreams May Come"
The Rosie O'Donnell Show Herself
1999 The Brothers Flub Additional voices 16 episodes
Sunset Beach Margaret Raynor 3 episodes
The Parkers Miss Agnes Episode: "Scammed Straight"
1999–2000 Mickey Mouse Works Mrs. Tammy Turtle Voice; 4 episodes
2000 Providence Darlene Episode: "Syd in Wonderland"
72nd Academy Awards Mrs. Potato Head Voice; television special
Queer Duck Mrs. Catherina Duckstein Voice; 5 episodes
2001 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Dora Episode: "Sabrina, the Muse"
The Kids from Room 402 Aunt Cookie Voice; episode: "Uncle Bonehead"
Family Guy Death's Mother Voice; episode: "Death Lives"
2002 House of Mouse Mrs. Tammy Turtle Voice; 4 episodes
Weakest Link Herself 1 episode
Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck
2003 Half & Half Grandma Sophie Episode: "The Big Phat Mouth Episode: Part 2"
Regular Joe Aunt Mickie Episode: "Boobysitting"
The Proud Family Helga Voice; episode: "Thelma and Luis"
Test the Nation Herself 1 episode
2004 Kim Possible Mama Lipsky Voice; 3 episodes
Kramer vs. Kramer: Kenny to Cosmo Herself
2004–2005 Dave the Barbarian Lula Voice; 21 episodes
2005 Tripping the Rift Estelle Episode: "Roswell"
Phil of the Future Older Pim Episode: "Maybe-Sitting"
2005–2008 The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Muriel 14 episodes
2006 Mind of Mencia Herself 1 episode
ER Mrs. Dawn Markovic Episode: "Bloodline"
2007 iCarly Mrs. Lydia Halberstadt Episode: "iScream on Halloween"
The Emperor's New School Mrs. Irma Mudka Episode: "The Emperor's New Home School/Mudka's Secret Recipe"
Case Closed Madame Television film
2008 Can You Teach My Alligator Manners? Nana Episode: "Nana's Visit"
2009 American Dad! Marty's Wife Voice; episode: "In Country... Club"
Curb Your Enthusiasm Estelle Costanza / Herself Episode: "The Table Read"
2009–2010 Made in Hollywood Herself 2 episodes
2009–2014 Fanboy & Chum Chum Oz's Mother Voice; 11 episodes
2010 Sonny with a Chance Grace Gallagher Episode: "Random Acts of Disrespect"
The Bonnie Hunt Show Herself 1 episode
KTLA Morning News
Totally Tracked Down
2011 The Looney Tunes Show Sylvester's Mother Voice; episode: "Point, Laser Point"
2012 Futurama Velma Farnsworth Voice; episode: "Near-Death Wish"
2013 The Exes Mother Episode: "Zero Dark Forties"
2014–2015 Jake and the Never Land Pirates Peg-Leg Peg Voice; 3 episodes

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1999 Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue Mrs. Potato Head Film Cutscene Footage


  1. ^ a b Mills, Nancy (October 1, 1995). "A Mother Figure". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Mendoza, N. F. (January 29, 1995). "With An Eye On...Why Estelle Harris wants to be a full-time mom to her boy George on 'Seinfeld'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  3. ^ Traub, Alex; May, Tiffany (April 3, 2022). "Estelle Harris, George's Mother on 'Seinfeld,' Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Grobar, Matt (April 2, 2022). "Estelle Harris Dies: 'Seinfeld's Estelle Costanza, 'Toy Story' Franchise's Mrs. Potato Head Was 93". Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  5. ^ Lane, Barbara Kaplan (August 21, 1994). "AT HOME WITH Estelle Harris; Building a Character as the Mother of TV's All-Time Loser". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Staff (April 3, 2017). "Seven Things You Should Know About Estelle Harris". Star Trek. CBS. Retrieved January 27, 2022.
  7. ^ "Brad Paisley gets in tune with "Online" video". Country Standard Times. June 25, 2007. Retrieved January 19, 2021.
  8. ^ "Estelle Harris (visual voices guide)". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
  9. ^ "Seinfeld and Toy Story star Estelle Harris dies aged 93". The Delta News. April 3, 2022. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
  10. ^ Knapp, JD (April 2, 2022). "Estelle Harris, Seinfeld Star and Toy Story Voice Actress, Dead at 93". Retrieved April 3, 2022.

External links[edit]