Jerry Stiller in Seinfeld. Fun fact: He is Ben Stiller’s dad.
Jerry Stiller in Seinfeld. Fun fact: He is Ben Stiller’s dad.

Seinfeld star’s one big question

JERRY Stiller - who famously played George Costanza's dad on Seinfeld - says he was always confused about the on-screen family's heritage.

In a video appearance at the Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot gala at the Mandarin Oriental this week, the veteran comic said, "It was never really clear if the Costanzas were Jewish or Italian or what they were. Jason (Alexander, who played George), Estelle (Harris, who played Estelle Costanza) and I were given the name Costanza, which sounds Italian, but there were episodes where I cooked Jewish food and ate knishes and kasha varnishkes in bed."

Stiller added, "When people asked me about this, I would simply say it was because we were a Jewish family in the witness protection program."

A replica of Jerry Seinfeld's apartment is part of a new exhibit on Jewish humour in The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv.

If you're a Seinfeld fan, here are some things you might not know about the hit show.


Jason Alexander wasn't the first choice to play George Costanza.

David Letterman's former musical sidekick, Paul Shaffer, revealed in his autobiography that Jerry Seinfeld originally offered him the role before the show debuted in 1989.

"There's no audition," Seinfeld reportedly said in a message he left for Shaffer.

"You've got the part. Just call us back!"

Shaffer never called him back.


The actor revealed to Access Hollywood that he once told co-creator Larry David that he might walk away from the show.

"Very early on Larry wrote an episode where Elaine and Jerry go to Florida and Kramer and George are not in that episode," Alexander said.

"And when Seinfeld started I had a very successful career in the theatre in New York which is what I thought I was going to be doing all my life. So when I was written out of an episode I came back the next week and I said to Larry, 'Look, I get it. But if you do that again, do it permanently. If you don't need me to be here every week … I'd just as soon go back home and do what I was doing'."


Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza, Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander as George in Seinfeld.
Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza, Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander as George in Seinfeld.



Seinfeld composer Jonathan Wolff rewrote the theme song for every single episode.

"I knew each monologue was going to be different because [Jerry] tells different jokes, so it had to be adjustable," he told Great Big Story.

"I noticed that Jerry has a lyrical delivery to his jokes, and I put a clock on it … and that became the tempo for the theme. The bassline is so simple it can start and stop for his jokes, hold for laughs, and that way I could architect each piece of music for each monologue, Lego-style."


There were 180 episodes in total but Seinfeld has two favourites in particular.

"One was the The Rye, because we got to shoot that at Paramount Studios in LA which was the first time that we thought, 'wow this is almost like a real TV show'," Seinfeld said during a Reddit AMA.

"We hadn't felt like a real TV show, the early years of the TV show were not successful … We felt like we were a weird little orphan show. So that was a big deal for us."

The comedian's other favourite episode is The Pothole.

"Newman drives his mail truck over a sewing machine and his mail truck burst into flames," Seinfeld recalled.

"It was really fun to shoot, and it was fun to set Newman on fire. And he screamed, 'oh the humanity' like from the Hindenberg disaster."


Jerry Seinfeld with Wayne Knight who played Newman.
Jerry Seinfeld with Wayne Knight who played Newman.



Carol Leifer was a writer on Seinfeld and told that friends would always pitch ideas to her for potential storylines.

"When you write on Seinfeld, the bane of any writer's existence was people coming up to you and saying, 'Oh I've got the best idea for a Seinfeld episode'," Leifer said.

But every now and then they gave her some gold.

"I have a friend from high school who said she had a great Seinfeld idea. She said, 'We had a dinner party the other night and these people brought a bread to serve at the dinner and I forgot to put the bread out and I noticed at the end of the night they took the bread home'.

"I remember saying to my friend, 'You know what? I'm going to pitch to Larry and Jerry because I think there's something there'. And sure enough when I pitched it to them, Larry David was like, 'That's a show. We're definitely doing something with that', and that became the episode called The Rye."


As Seinfeld revealed during a Reddit AMA, they decided to scrap an episode in which Jerry was going to buy a handgun.

"We started making it and stopped in the middle and said 'this doesn't work'," he said.

"We did the read-through and then cancelled it. A lot of other stuff happened, but trying to make that funny ended up being no fun."


As Jennifer Keishin Armstrong revealed in her book Seinfeldia, the people who made the show hated the whole "show about nothing" thing.

Seinfeld writer Peter Mehlman told Armstrong, "It created a kind of misnomer about the show".

"I mean, it was the only show on TV that wasn't about nothing! Seinfeld was taking on issue after issue after issue, and not even consciously. Just because, you know, Elaine dating a guy who's anti-abortion - it's funny!"


The taping of the final episode of Seinfeld which aired on Thursday, May 14, 1998.
The taping of the final episode of Seinfeld which aired on Thursday, May 14, 1998.


The only line that Jerry Seinfeld likes to quote from the show is: "If you're one of us, you'll take a bite".

"It's a very obscure line," Seinfeld said on Reddit, "but George was working at some company where they all had lunch together, and he wasn't trying the apple pie, and the boss finally says, 'If you're one of us, you'll take a bite.'

"A lot of times kids won't want to try certain foods, and so I'll use that line."


Kramer, who was played by Michael Richards, would charge through Jerry's apartment door with such force that the crew had extra hinges on standby in case he broke the door.


Jason Alexander told Howard Stern that the show's creators decided to kill off the character of Susan because the cast had a hard time working with actor Heidi Swedberg.

"They [Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus] go, 'You know what? It's f**king impossible. It's impossible,'" Alexander said.

"And Julia actually said, 'Don't you want to just kill her?' And Larry [David] went, 'Ka-bang!'"

He later apologised for telling the story on radio.

Heidi Swedberg as Susan Biddle Ross in Seinfeld.
Heidi Swedberg as Susan Biddle Ross in Seinfeld.


NBC's former president of entertainment offered Jerry Seinfeld more than $US100 million to make another season of the show.

"We offered him $5 million an episode," Warren Littlefield told Fox News.

"We went in there with a staggering sum and there was tremendous confidence that no one could walk away from it. He came to me and said, 'I don't have a life, I'm not married, I don't have kids.' We gave it everything we had, he was tempted, but in the end it was a quality of life decision."


Patrick Warburton, who played Puddy, told that Jerry Seinfeld gave all of the cast members a gift after taping the final episode.

"We all got a lovely Cartier watch that said Seinfeld underneath," the actor revealed.

This article originally appeared on The New York Post and was reproduced with permission

5 myths about The Northern Star we want to bust

5 myths about The Northern Star we want to bust

OPINION: Our journos have been covering news that matters on the Northern Rivers...

Qld opening with NSW now in doubt

Qld opening with NSW now in doubt

Queensland border: Opening with NSW in November may be in doubt