Estelle Harris


Hey, Jerry.

Hey, George.

Did you hear my mother died?


How did you know? I didn’t tell you yet!

George, you were shouting “GEORGE COSTANZA IS FREE, BABY!” past my apartment this morning! What else could that possibly mean?

Yeah… you’re right.

Well well, your parents reunited again…

Don’t ruin this moment for me, Jerry!


Actress Estelle Harris made her name in the 90s as the wife of two of the all-time-great grouches in entertainment – Jerry Stiller’s Frank Costanza in hit sitcom Seinfeld, and Don Rickles’s Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story animated film series. Whereas her two famous “husbands” were major showbiz figures enjoying a resurgence with a new generation, Harris didn’t begin acting until the late 70s after her children reached school age. For the first 15 years of her career, she was largely restricted to bit-part roles and commercials, a realm she was so prolific in that she was nicknamed the “Queen of Commercials”.

It wasn’t until Seinfeld that she achieved widespread recognition. Cast as George Costanza’s hilariously obnoxious carrot-top mother Estelle (a name already decided upon before she was cast), her debut episode was her personal favourite – classic The Contest, where the gang is inspired to “master their domains” after Estelle catches George pleasuring himself and is hospitalised from the shock. She went on to be one of the most prominent secondary characters, frequently chastising George and arguing with Frank, and particularly loathing the Seinfeld parents. His parents living nearby is a routine source of chagrin for eternally-pathetic George, who even has to temporarily live with them again when in between jobs.

The Costanzas joined the Seinfelds as the only parents of a main character to appear in a recurring capacity,* and deservedly so given the comedy chops of both Stiller and Harris. She held her own alongside the more seasoned Stiller, with her shrill shrieks of “GEORGE!” as memorable to series viewers as Frank shouting at the slightest agitation, and how well they complemented one another further enhanced classic Frank-centric scenes such as Festivus or SERENITY NOW! From a creepy doll resembling her driving both George and Frank insane to her outrage at seeing Frank try on a man bra to being convinced that Cosmo “Assman” Kramer is making a pass on her due to a recent eye job, there was no shortage of great Estelle-related moments.

Harris carried over her distinctive voice to Mrs. Potato Head, though personality wise the character was a sharp contrast from Estelle Costanza. Whereas the Costanzas were in a never-ending race to out-crank one another, Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story instead served as a good-natured counterweight to the acerbic Mr. Potato Head, who embodied the insult comedy that Rickles was a master of. Fully introduced in Toy Story 2, her most prominent role was in Toy Story 3, where her left-behind eye under Andy’s bed proves crucial to the plot.

She remained active with a variety of voice and live action roles for the next twenty years, which concluded with Toy Story 4. Her third biggest role was apparently as snarky maid Muriel in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, an aughties Disney Channel sitcom. As fellow 2022 DDP graduate Meat Loaf once said…

Estelle Harris died shortly before her 94th birthday and leaves Liz Sheridan the last surviving parent of a main Seinfeld character. John Key’s List and Perhaps’ Pointless Punts both feel some serenity now with the points.

*There were plans to make Elaine’s dad, played by Laurence Tierney, recurring, but they were quickly scrapped after Tierney stole a butcher knife from the show set and, when caught, made Psycho-esque sounds and motions with the knife to Jerry Seinfeld’s face. No, really.

Estelle Harris
22 April 1928 – 2 April 2022, aged 93
2 TEAMS (💀💀💀💀💀 5 POINTS)