Liz Sheridan

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Liz Sheridan
Liz Sheridan in an episode of ALF
Elizabeth Ann Sheridan

(1929-04-10)April 10, 1929
DiedApril 15, 2022(2022-04-15) (aged 93)
Years active1950s–2010
Known for
Dale Wales
(m. 1985; died 2003)

Elizabeth Ann Sheridan (April 10, 1929 – April 15, 2022) was an American actress. While best known for her roles as the nosy neighbor, Mrs. Ochmonek, on the sitcom ALF (1986–1990), and Jerry's mother, Helen, in Seinfeld (1990–1998), her decades-long career was extensive and included work on the stage and on large and small screens.[1]

Early life[edit]

Sheridan was born in Rye, New York, on April 10, 1929.[2] Her father, Frank Sheridan, was a classical pianist; her mother, Elizabeth Poole-Jones, was a concert singer. She was raised by her mother in Westchester County, New York, after her parents' separation.[3] As a child, she was given the nickname "Dizzy",[3] a shortened version of "Dizabeth", which is how her sister managed to pronounce her name when they were young.[4]


Sheridan began her professional life as a nightclub dancer and singer in the 1950s,[2] and spent much of her early career living and working in the Caribbean.[5][3] In the late 1960s, back in New York City, she performed in one of Julius Monk's annual cabaret reviews at Plaza 9, located in the Plaza Hotel.[citation needed] She also appeared in plays and musicals on Broadway, co-starring with Meryl Streep and Christopher Lloyd in the 1977 musical, Happy End, before moving to Los Angeles.[6][7] Working in Hollywood, she came to prominence in supporting roles in over a dozen feature films and 60 prime time network television movies, mini-series, and series including Kojak,[3] Archie Bunker's Place,[8] St. Elsewhere,[9] Newhart,[8] Moonlighting,[10] The A-Team, Who's the Boss, Hill St. Blues,[8] Cagney & Lacey, Family Ties,[11] Murder, She Wrote, and Double Rush.[8] Her first major role was playing the nosy neighbor Raquel Ochmonek on the NBC TV series ALF, from 1986 to 1990.[12]

Following that she secured her most renowned and long-lived role, as Jerry's "protective, Florida-living mom", Helen, on Seinfeld.[13][14] She appeared in all nine seasons, from 1990 to 1998, the only actor to do so apart from the four leads,[15] and was the last surviving actress to play one of the parents of the Seinfeld main cast members.[13][16]

In 2009, with Andy Griffith and Doris Roberts, Sheridan co-starred in the feature film Play the Game, a romantic comedy about a widowed grandfather who learns dating tricks from his serial romancer of a grandson. The film received attention for containing a sex scene between Sheridan and Griffith.[17][18]

Personal life[edit]

While working as a dancer in New York City nightclubs, Sheridan met the then-unknown James Dean. She wrote a book, Dizzy & Jimmy: My Life with James Dean: A Love Story, chronicling their time together in the early 1950s.[2] In it, she describes them as each other's first romantic love. "We had great times... We didn't want to be apart. We found a place and lived together... before he really hit it big."[19] At one point in their relationship, they found themselves traveling to Ohio with Major League Baseball player Clyde McCullough. During the trip, as they discussed baseball, she realized that if she and Dean were married she would be known as "Dizzy Dean", evoking thoughts of the baseball player of the same name.[3]

Dean pursued work on the stage in New York City, with film roles in Hollywood soon to follow. Without sure footing or a serious plan, forging a future was not an option, thus bringing about the end of their relationship.[20][21] "He was being hauled away into this career, and I couldn't follow him," she said in an interview.[22][23]

Early in 1953, Sheridan departed New York City for the Virgin Islands.[5] She lived for over a decade in St. Thomas and later Puerto Rico. She earned a living as a dancer and also by singing and playing piano. Together with a neighbor who had a dance troupe, she won a dance contest she choreographed for the first Carnival in St. Thomas. She also earned a $600 purse finishing first in a horse race, atop her stallion, Generalé.

After a brief engagement to Justus Villa (aka Pancho), she realized she didn't want to marry him, broke it off, and returned, for a time, to New York City. There, at a party, she again met Dean. Afterwards, in a cab, he told her, "Nothing's lost between us. It never will be. You're a part of me and I'm a part of you. I take you with me wherever I go." That was the last time she saw him.[24]

Back in the Caribbean, she met jazz musician [William] Dale Wales (1917–2003)[25][26] in Puerto Rico. They shared a life from 1960 until his death in 2003; they wed in 1985.[3] Their daughter Stephanie is a photographer.[27] Sheridan said, "I'm so unmotherly, I cannot tell you. I'm still a flower child somewhere. My daughter was more my friend than my daughter most of her life."[28]

Sheridan and actress Elizabeth Montgomery were friends, and were respectively known together as Dizzy and Lizzie. Montgomery only took on the nickname "Lizzie" following her performance in the Emmy Award-winning TV movie, The Legend of Lizzie Borden[4][21] The pair adored horses and together they frequented the Santa Anita race track.[29][30]

Sheridan died on April 15, 2022, at her home in Manhattan, at the age of 93.[2][3][13][16]



Year Title Role Notes
1982 Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again[8][31] Mrs. Larson
1983 Star 80[31][32] Makeup Woman
1984 Nickel Mountain[32][10] Reception Nurse
1985 Avenging Angel[31][10] Nurse
1985 School Spirit[32][10] Mrs. Kingman
1986 Legal Eagles[31][32] Juror
1987 Who's That Girl[31][32] Nurse #1
1992 Only You[10] Mrs. Stein
1992 Wishman[31][32] Ms. Finger
1993 Brainsmasher... A Love Story[10] Ma Molly
1995 Forget Paris[32][10] Woman in Car
1996 Wedding Bell Blues[8][10] Mrs. Samuel Levine
1996 A&P Hi-Ho Lady Short film
1997 Always Say Goodbye[8][10] Muriel Evans
2002 Now You Know[10] Grandma
2004 Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes[32][10]
2007 The Blacksmith and the Carpenter[33] God's Wife Voice
Short film
2009 Play the Game[8][32] Edna Gordon
2010 Trim[8] Helen


Year Title Role Notes
1977 Kojak[3] Rose Episode: "Kojak's Days: Part 1"
1981 The White Shadow[12] Restaurant Customer Episode: "B.M.O.C."
1981 Archie Bunker's Place[8] Lady Episode: "Billie"
1982 World War III[32][10] Naomi Glass Miniseries
1982 Gimme a Break![8] Nurse Whales Episode: "The Emergency"
1982 In the Custody of Strangers[32][10] Caseworker Television film
1982 Tucker's Witch[34] Secretary Episode: "Big Mouth"
1983 St. Elsewhere[9] Dr. Susan Mauri Episode: "The Count"
1983 Oh Madeline Mrs. Phelps Episode: "Mummy Dearest"[35]
1983 Scarecrow and Mrs. King[12] Lydia Lowell Episode: "If Thoughts Could Kill"
1983 One Day at a Time[8] Mrs. Muller Episode: "The Dentist"
1983, 1985 The A-Team[8][10] Hildegard Henderson / Tina Lavelle 2 episodes
1984 Second Sight: A Love Story[32][10] Mrs. Carlisle Television film
1984 Three's a Crowd[12] Miss Rockwell Episode: "Daddy's Little Girl"
1984 The Cartier Affair[32][10] Miss Carpenter Television film
1984 Riptide Everitt's Secretary Episode: "Father's Day"[36]
1985 Sins of the Father[32][10] Middle-Aged Woman Television film
1985 It's Your Move Eunice Episode: "A Woman Is Just a Woman"[37]
1985 Newhart[8] Mrs. Spencer Episode: "Look Homeward, Stephanie"
1985 Moonlighting[10] Selma Episode: "Pilot"
1985 Generation[32] Clara Television film
1985 Santa Barbara[11] Nurse Greta Bayley 3 episodes
1985 Brothers Zelda March Episode: "Happy Birthday, Baby Brother"[38]
1985 Who's the Boss?[8] Gertrude Episode: "Custody: Part 2"
1985, 1986 Remington Steele[11] Greta Swenson / Woman in Hallway 2 episodes
1986 Hill Street Blues[3][8] Dorothy Miskin Episode: "I Want My Hill Street Blues"
1986 Cagney & Lacey[10][11] Dr. Vernon Episode: "Sorry, Right Number"
1986 Kate's Secret[32] Evelyn Television film
1986 The Magical World of Disney Hostess Episode: "Sunday Drive"[32][10]
1986 A Year in the Life[32] Lois Episode: "The First Christmas"
1986–1990 ALF[8][11] Raquel Ochmonek 34 episodes
1987 Warm Hearts, Cold Feet[32][10] Amanda McPherson Television film
1988 The Secret Life of Kathy McCormick[32][10] Mrs. Van Adams Television film
1988 Family Ties[8][11] Ginny McCoy Episode: "Heartstrings: Part 3"
1989 It's a Living[8] Sophie Episode: "Matchmaker, Matchmaker"
1990 Piece of Cake[32] Mrs. Katz Television film
1990 Good Grief[39] Widow Blackwell Episode: "Warren Learns to Fly"
1990 Dr. Ruth's House[32] Jessica Dimmesdale Television film
1990, 1994 Empty Nest[10] Mrs. Coover / Elspeth 2 episodes
1990–1998 Seinfeld[3] Helen Seinfeld 21 episodes
1991 Changes[8][32] Mrs. Hahn Television film
1991 Murder, She Wrote[8][10] Rose Tessler Episode: "Bite the Big Apple"
1992 Melrose Place[40] Woman Shopper Episode: "My Way"
1994 Blossom[10] Mrs. Walker Episode: "Blossom Gump"
1994–1997 Life with Louie[32] Mrs. Stillman 7 episodes
1995 Double Rush[8] Marge Episode: "Slamming Into a Car Isn't Good"
1995 Sliders[8][10] Miss Miller Episode: "Prince of Wails"
1995 Deadline for Murder: From the Files of Edna Buchanan[8][32] Wendy Padison Television film
1995 Cleghorne![8][10] Madame Bourreau 2 episodes
1997 A Match Made in Heaven[8][32] Ruthie Klein Television film
2005 Complete Savages[8][10] Mrs. O'Hara Episode: "Crimes and Mini-Wieners"
2005 Numbers[8] Landlady Episode: "Bones of Contention"
2007 American Dad![8] Mrs. Rothberg (voice) Episode: "An Apocalypse to Remember"


  • Sheridan, Liz. (2000) Dizzy & Jimmy: My Life with James Dean: A Love Story. New York: HarperEntertainment. ISBN 0-0603-9383-1


  1. ^ "Liz Sheridan Dies: 'Seinfeld' Mom & 'ALF' Actress Was 93". Deadline Hollywood. April 15, 2022. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d Holub, Christian (April 15, 2022). "Liz Sheridan, Jerry's doting mom on Seinfeld, dies at 93". Entertainment Weekly.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Genzlinger, Neil (April 15, 2022). "Liz Sheridan, Who Played Jerry Seinfeld's Mom, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Pilato, Herbie J. (2012). Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade. pp. 6, 358, 366. ISBN 978-1-58979-749-9.
  5. ^ a b Sheridan, Liz (2000). Dizzy & Jimmy: My Life with James Dean: a Love Story. New York, NY: Harper Entertainment. p. 298. ISBN 978-0-06-039383-0.
  6. ^ "Liz Sheridan". Internet Broadway Database.
  7. ^ "Happy End". Internet Broadway Database.
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  12. ^ a b c d Pedersen, Erik (April 15, 2022). "Liz Sheridan Dies: 'Seinfeld' Mom & 'ALF' Actress Was 93". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
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  14. ^ Driscoll, Molly (June 8, 2013). "The 20 Best TV Sitcoms Of All Time". Business Insider.
  15. ^ Seinfeld Season 9: Notes About Nothing – "The Blood" (DVD). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. 2007.
  16. ^ a b Andrew, Scottie (April 15, 2022). "Liz Sheridan, 'Seinfeld' actress, dead at 93". CNN.
  17. ^ Ebert, Roger (August 26, 2009). "Andy Griffith and Seinfeld's mom: I would really rather not know". Roger Ebert.
  18. ^ Saslow, Rachel (August 18, 2009). "Media Scan: A Movie About Aging, a DVD for Exercise, a Book About Dieting". Washington Post.
  19. ^ "Liz Sheridan Interview". YouTube. November 11, 2009. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021.
  20. ^ Spoto, Donald (1996). Rebel: The Life and Legend of James Dean. New York City: Harper Collins. pp. 95–122. ISBN 978-0-06-017656-3.
  21. ^ a b Leslie, Paul (March 2, 2012). "Liz Sheridan Interview on The Paul Leslie Hour". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021.
  22. ^ Lipton, Michael A. (June 24, 1996). "An Affair to Remember". People magazine. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  23. ^ Winkler, Peter (2016). The Real James Dean: Intimate Memories from Those Who Knew Him Best. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-61373-472-8.
  24. ^ Sheridan, Liz (2000). Dizzy & Jimmy: My Life with James Dean: a Love Story. New York, NY: Harper Entertainment. pp. 306–319. ISBN 978-0-06-039383-0.
  25. ^ "Dale Wales". My Heritage.
  26. ^ Kelley, Robin (2009). Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original. New York, NY: Free Press. pp. 227, 229. ISBN 978-0-684-83190-9.
  27. ^ "About". Stephanie Wales Creative Imagery. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  28. ^ Vancheri, Barbara (May 10, 1998). "Liz sheridan: she'll be watching at home when the curtain falls". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. G-10.
  29. ^ Pilato, Herbie J. (2013). The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: A Guide to Her Magical Performances. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-1-58979-824-3.
  30. ^ Pilato, Herbie J. (2012). Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade. pp. 291, 293. ISBN 978-1-58979-749-9.
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  33. ^ "Liz Sheridan". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on April 18, 2023. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  34. ^ Lentz, Harris M. (1989). Science Fiction, Horror & Fantasy Film and Television Credits Supplement: Through 1987. McFarland. p. 833. ISBN 978-0-89950-364-6.
  35. ^ "Oh Madeline – Season 1, Episode 2: Mummy Dearest". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  36. ^ Abbott, Jon (September 12, 2009). Stephen J. Cannell Television Productions: A History of All Series and Pilots. McFarland. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-7864-5401-3.
  37. ^ "It's Your Move". BBC One. June 23, 1986. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  38. ^ "Brothers – Season 2, Episode 12: Happy Birthday, Baby Brother". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  39. ^ TV Guide. Vol. 38. Triangle Publications. 1990. p. 91.
  40. ^ Crowther, Linnea (April 15, 2022). "Liz Sheridan (1929–2022), Jerry's mom on "Seinfeld"". Retrieved April 16, 2022.

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