Estelle Harris, ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Toy Story’ actor, dies aged 93

As middle-class matron Estelle Costanza, Harris left a memorable mark on her recurring role on the great ’90s sitcom Seinfeld.

As middle-class matron Estelle Costanza, Harris left a memorable mark on her recurring role on the great ’90s sitcom Seinfeld.

Estelle Harris, who screamed her way into TV history as George Costanza’s short-haired mother in “Seinfeld” and the voice of Mrs. Potato Head in the “Toy Story” franchise, has died. She was 93.

As middle-class matron Estelle Costanza, Harris left a memorable mark on her recurring role on the great 90s sitcom. With her high-pitched voice and humorously overbearing demeanor, she was an archetype of maternal outrage.

By exchanging insults and absurdities with her on-screen husband, played by Jerry Stiller, Harris helped create a parent couple that would leave even a psychiatrist helpless to do anything but hope they’d move to Florida—if their son , played by Jason Alexander, encouraged them to no avail.

Harris’s agent, Michael Eisenstadt, confirmed the actor’s death Saturday night in Palm Desert, California.

Viewers of all backgrounds would tell her she was like their own mother, Harris often said.

“She’s the mom everyone loves, even though her neck hurts,” she told the… Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1998.

The career-defining role came on stage and screen after decades. Born on April 22, 1928 in New York City, Harris grew up in the city and later in the Pittsburgh suburb of Tarentum, Pennsylvania, where her father owned a candy store. She began to use her comedic talents in high school productions, where she realized she could “make the audience hysterical,” as she said. People magazine from 1995.

After the nine seasons of “Seinfeld” ended in 1998, Harris continued to appear on stage and screen. She voiced Mrs. Potato Head in the 1999 animated blockbuster “Toy Story 2” and played the recurring character Muriel in Disney Channel’s hit sitcom “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” among other roles.

She had stopped pursuing show business when she got married in the early 1950s, but returned to acting in amateur groups, dinner theater and commercials when her three children grew up (“I had to wear diapers and bottles and blah blah baby talk,” she shared. . People).

She eventually began guest-starring on television shows, including the legal comedy “Night Court,” and in films, including director Sergio Leone’s 1984 gangland epic, “Once Upon a Time in America.” Her “Seinfeld” debut came in one of the show’s most celebrated episodes: the 1992 Emmy Award-winning “The Contest,” in which the four lead characters challenge each other not to do what is artfully described as “that.” Harris would appear in dozens more episodes of the ‘show about nothing’. She cooked over the dull paella, screeched over George’s handkerchief in the parental bed, and laid down the bedspread for Festivus, her husband Frank’s idiosyncratic holiday.

“Estelle is a born artist,” Stiller told The Record of Bergen County, NJ in 1998. “I just go with what I have, and she returns to me the same way.” Still, Harris saw a sympathetic undertone to her character, often saying that Estelle was furious with her bumbling partner and wily sloth of a son.

Viewers, she told an interviewer in 1998, “just see her as funny, cute, and a rowdy woman. But I don’t play her that way. I play her with misery underneath.” She is survived by her three children, three grandsons and a great-grandson.

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