Estelle Harris, Seinfeld And Toy Story Actor, Dies At 93

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Estelle
Harris,
who
hollered
her
way
into
TV
history
as
George
Costanza’s
short-fused
mother
on

Seinfeld

and
voiced
Mrs
Potato
Head
in
the

Toy
Story

franchise,
has
died.
She
was
93.
As
middle-class
matron
Estelle
Costanza,
Harris
put
a
memorable
stamp
on
her
recurring
role
in
the
smash
1990s
sitcom.

With
her
high-pitched
voice
and
humorously
overbearing
attitude,
she
was
an
archetype
of
maternal
indignation.
Trading
insults
and
absurdities
with
her
on-screen
husband,
played
by
Jerry
Stiller,
Harris
helped
create
a
parental
pair
that
would
leave
even
a
psychiatrist
helpless
to
do
anything
but
hope
they’d
move
to
Florida

as
their
son,
played
by
Jason
Alexander,
fruitlessly
encouraged
them
to
do.

Harris’
agent
Michael
Eisenstadt
confirmed
the
actor’s
death
in
Palm
Desert,
California,
on
Saturday
evening.
Viewers
of
all
backgrounds
would
tell
her
she
was
just
like
their
own
mothers,
Harris
often
said.
“She
is
the
mother
that
everybody
loves,
even
though
she’s
a
pain
in
the
neck,”
she
told
the
Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette
in
1998.
The
career-defining
role
came
after
decades
on
stage
and
screen.

Born
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
started
tapping
her
comedic
talents
in
high
school
productions
where
she
realized
she
“could
make
the
audience
get
hysterical,”
as
she
told
People
magazine
in
1995.
After
the
nine-season
run
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
the
popular
Disney
Channel
sitcom

The
Suite
Life
of
Zack
&
Cody
,
among
other
roles.

Daniel
Craig
Tests
Positive
For
COVID-19,
His
Broadway
Show
Macbeth
Cancelled
Through
April
7

Jim
Carrey
Announces
Retirement
From
Acting:
I’ve
Done
Enough,
I
Really
Like
My
Quiet
Life

She
had
stopped
pursuing
show
business
when
she
married
in
the
early
1950s
but
resumed
acting
in
amateur
groups,
dinner
theatre
and
commercials
as
her
three
children
grew
(“I
had
to
get
out
of
diapers
and
bottles
and
blah-blah
baby
talk,”
she
told
People).
Eventually,
she
began
appearing
in
guest
roles
on
TV
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
Emmy
Award-winning
1992
“The
Contest,”
in
which
the
four
central
characters
challenge
each
other
to
refrain
from
doing
what
is
artfully
described
only
as
“that.”
Harris
would
go
on
to
appear
in
dozens
more
episodes
of
the
“show
about
nothing.”
She
seethed
over
snubbed
paella,
screeched
about
George’s
hanky-panky
in
the
parental
bed
and
laid
out
the
spread
for
screen
husband
Frank’s
idiosyncratic
holiday,
Festivus.
“Estelle
is
a
born
performer,”
Stiller
told
The
Record
of
Bergen
County,
N.J.,
in
1998.
“I
just
go
with
what
I
got,
and
she
goes
back
at
me
the
same
way.”

Still,
Harris
saw
a
sympathetic
undertone
to
her
character,
often
saying
Estelle
fumed
out
frustration
at
her
bumbling
mate
and
scheming
slacker
of
a
son.
Viewers,
she
told
an
interviewer
in
1998,
“just
look
at
her
as
being
funny,
cute
and
a
loudmouth.
But
it’s
not
how
I
play
her.
I
play
her
with
misery
underneath.”
She
is
survived
by
her
three
children,
three
grandsons,
and
a
great-grandson.

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