Jerry (Jerome Allen) Seinfeld - biography
Jerome "Jerry" Seinfeld (born April 29, 1954) is an American stand-up comedian, actor and writer, best known for playing a semi-fictional version of himself in the situation comedy Seinfeld (1989–1998), which he co-created and co-wrote with Larry David, and, in the show's final two seasons, co-executive-produced.
In his first major foray back into the media since the finale of Seinfeld, he co-wrote and co-produced the film Bee Movie, also taking on the lead role of Barry B. Benson. In February 2010, Seinfeld premiered a reality TV series called The Marriage Ref on NBC. Seinfeld is currently directing his friend Colin Quinn in the Broadway show Long Story Short at the Helen Hayes Theater in New York through January 8, 2010.
Seinfeld was born in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Kalman Seinfeld (d. 1985), was of Eastern European Ashkenazi background and was a sign maker; his mother, Betty (1915- ), is of Syrian Jewish descent. Her family was registered as Turkish. Seinfeld grew up in Massapequa, New York. In September 1959, his mother enrolled him at Birch Lane Elementary School, from which he continued to Massapequa High School. At the age of 16, he spent a short period of time volunteering in Kibbutz Sa'ar in Israel. He went to SUNY Oswego, and after his sophomore year he transferred to Queens College, City University of New York, graduating with a degree in communications and theater.
Seinfeld developed an interest in stand-up comedy after brief stints in college productions. In 1976, right after graduation from Queens College, he tried out at an open-mic night at New York City's Catch a Rising Star, which led to an appearance in a Rodney Dangerfield HBO special. In 1979, he had a very small recurring role on the Benson sitcom as "Frankie", a mail delivery boy who had comedy routines that no one wanted to hear, but he was abruptly fired from the show due to creative differences. Seinfeld has said that he was not actually told he had been fired until he turned up for the read-through session for an episode and found that there was no script for him. In May 1981, Seinfeld made a highly successful appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, impressing Carson and the audience and leading to regular appearances on that show and others, including Late Night with David Letterman.
Seinfeld created The Seinfeld Chronicles with Larry David in 1989 for NBC. The show was later renamed Seinfeld to avoid confusion with the short-lived teen sitcom The Marshall Chronicles and, by its fourth season, had become the most popular and successful sitcom on American television. The final episode aired in 1998, and the show has been a popular syndicated re-run. The show also starred Saturday Night Live veteran Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as well as experienced actors Michael Richards and Jason Alexander. On the show, Seinfeld played a caricature of himself. He has said that his show was influenced by the 1950s sitcom The Abbott and Costello Show. Citing Jean Shepherd as an influence in his commentary for "The Gymnast" episode on "Seinfeld, Season 6," he said, "He really formed my entire comedic sensibility--I learned how to do comedy from Jean Shepherd." Seinfeld also holds the distinction of being the only actor to appear in every episode of the show. From 2004–2007, the former Seinfeld cast and crew recorded audio commentaries for episodes of the DVD releases of the show. Seinfeld himself provided commentary for numerous episodes.
After his sitcom ended, Seinfeld returned to stand-up comedy instead of pursuing a film career as most other popular comedians have done. In 1998, Seinfeld went on tour and recorded a comedy special entitled I'm Telling You for the Last Time. The process of developing and performing new material at clubs around the world was chronicled in a 2002 documentary, Comedian, which focused also on fellow comic Orny Adams, directed by Christian Charles. He has written several books, mostly archives of past routines. In the late 1990s, Apple Computer came up with an advertising slogan called "Think different" and produced a 60-second commercial to promote the slogan which showed people who were able to "think differently", like Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and many others. This commercial was later cut short to thirty seconds and ended up paying tribute to Jerry Seinfeld. This commercial aired only once, during the series finale of Seinfeld.
In 2004, Seinfeld also appeared in two commercial webisodes promoting American Express, entitled The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman, in which he appeared together with an animated rendering of Superman, who was referenced in numerous episodes of Seinfeld as Seinfeld's hero, voiced by Patrick Warburton, who had portrayed David Puddy on Seinfeld. The webisodes were aired in 2004 and directed by Barry Levinson. Seinfeld and "Superman" were also interviewed by Matt Lauer in a specially-recorded interview for the Today show.
On November 18, 2004, Seinfeld appeared at the National Museum of American History to donate the "Puffy Shirt" he wore in the famous Seinfeld episode of the same name. He also gave a speech when presenting the "Puffy Shirt", claiming humorously that "This is the most embarrassing moment of my life."
Seinfeld had a special appearance on May 13, 2006 Saturday Night Live episode as Julia Louis-Dreyfus' assassin. Louis-Dreyfus was the host of that episode and in her opening monologue she mentioned the "Seinfeld Curse". While talking about how ridiculous the "curse" was, a stage light suddenly fell next to her. The camera moved to a catwalk above the stage that Seinfeld was standing on, holding a large pair of bolt cutters. He angrily muttered, "Dammit!", angry that it didn't hit her. Louis-Dreyfus then continued to say that she is indeed not cursed.
On February 25, 2007, Seinfeld appeared at the 79th Academy Awards as the presenter for "Best Documentary". Before announcing the nominations he did a bit of a stand-up comedy routine about the unspoken agreement between movie theater owners and movie patrons. One of the winners of the award was Larry David's now ex-wife, Laurie. On October 4, 2007, Seinfeld made a brief return to NBC, guest-starring in the episode "SeinfeldVision" of 30 Rock as himself.
On February 24, 2008, Seinfeld appeared as the voice of his Bee Movie animated character Barry, at the 80th Academy Awards as the presenter for "Best Animated Short". Before announcing the nominees, he showed a montage of film clips featuring bees, claiming that they were some of his early work (as Barry).
Amidst his spring 2008 tour Seinfeld made a stop in his hometown of New York City for a one-night-only performance on June 2, 2008 at the Hammerstein Ballroom to benefit Stand Up for a Cure, a charity aiding lung cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
In August 2008, the Associated Press reported that Jerry Seinfeld would be the pitchman for Windows Vista, as part of a $300 million advertising campaign by Microsoft. The adverts, which were intended to create buzz for Windows in support of the subsequent "I'm a PC" adverts, began airing in mid-September 2008 and were cut from television after just 3 installments, Microsoft opting instead to continue with the "I'm a PC" advertisements, and instead continued running the Seinfeld adverts on the Microsoft website as a series of longer advertisements.
In March 2009, it was announced that Seinfeld and the entire cast of Seinfeld would be appearing for a reunion in Larry David's HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. The fictional reunion took place in seventh season finale.
Seinfeld appeared on an episode of the Starz original series Head Case. Like many of his previous guest appearances on sitcoms he played himself.
In Australia, Seinfeld appears on a series of advertisements for Greater Building Society, a building society based in New South Wales and south eastern Queensland.His appearance in these adverts were highly publicized and considered a coup for the society, being only the third time Seinfeld had appeared in a television commercial.The adverts were filmed in Cedarhurst, Long Island, with the street designed to emulate Beaumont Street in Hamilton, where the Greater's head offices are located. Seinfeld also wrote the scripts for the fifteen advertisements that were filmed. The adverts largely aired in the Northern New South Wales television market, where the society has most of its branches.
Seinfeld was the first guest of Jay Leno's new talk show, The Jay Leno Show, which premiered on September 14.
Seinfeld was featured on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update sketch to do the "Really!?!" segment with Seth Meyers. Seinfeld is also executive producing and occasionally starring as a panelist in The Marriage Ref. On August 30, 2010, Seinfeld made a notable surprise guest appearance on The Howard Stern Show, repairing the falling out the two had in the early 90s. Jerry appeared on SNY during a Mets game and announced for an inning. Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez, SNY analyists, were very thankful for the opportunity.
Seinfeld is also a bestselling author, most notably for his book Seinlanguage. Released in 1993, the book went on to become a number one New York Times bestseller. The book, written as his television show was first rising in popularity, is primarily an adaptation of the comedian's standup material. The title comes from an article in Entertainment Weekly listing the numerous catch-phrases for which the show was responsible.
In 2002, he wrote a children's book titled Halloween. The book was illustrated by James Bennett. There are also several books about both the sitcom and Seinfeld himself, though many of them are not written by Seinfeld.
Seinfeld wrote the forewords to Ted L. Nancy's Letters from a Nut series of books and Ed Broth's Stories from a Moron. Both authors were rumored to be pseudonyms for Seinfeld or a friend of his. Neither Nancy nor Broth have been seen publicly, although Seinfeld is heavily involved in pitching their books for television. In promoting Broth's book, Seinfeld hosted a toast in the author's honor. Broth did not attend.
Seinfeld also wrote the foreword to the Peanut Butter & Co. Cookbook, from his favorite sandwich shop in New York City.
Seinfeld dated Carol Leifer, a fellow comedian and rumored to be the inspiration for the character of Elaine from his eponymous sitcom Seinfeld, although both parties deny it. When he was in his late thirties, Seinfeld began a romantic relationship with then-seventeen year old high school student Shoshanna Lonstein. A while later, after meeting Jessica Sklar at the Reebok Sports Club, he began dating her. Sklar, a public relations executive for Tommy Hilfiger, had just returned from a three-week honeymoon in Italy with Eric Nederlander, a theatrical producer and scion of a theater-owning family. Sklar divorced Nederlander and married Seinfeld on December 25, 1999. Comedian George Wallace was the best man at the wedding. After the nuptials, Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld bought Billy Joel's Amagansett, Long Island house for $32 million in March 2000.
Seinfeld and his wife have one daughter and two sons. Daughter Sascha was born on November 7, 2000 in New York City, son Julian Kal on March 1, 2003 in New York City,and Shepherd Kellen was born on August 22, 2005 at New York's Cornell Medical Center. His son Julian's middle name is Kal, which is the first name of Seinfeld's father. Kal is also the first name of Seinfeld's hero Kal-El (Superman). Among Seinfeld's best friends are fellow comedians Larry Miller and Mario Joyner.
In 2000, Jessica Seinfeld launched Baby Buggy, a charity that provides clothing and gear for underprivileged women and children. She is the author of the best-seller Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, released by HarperCollins in October 2007.
Seinfeld is recorded as having made several political contributions, including George W. Bush and Al Gore's presidential campaigns in 2000 and subsequently to four Democratic primary candidates in 2000 and 2004.
A fan of the New York Mets, Seinfeld periodically calls Steve Somers' show on WFAN-AM, a sports talk radio station, as "Jerry from Queens." Seinfeld called four innings of a Mets game on SportsNet New York June 23, 2010, reuniting with analyst Keith Hernandez who appeared in the Seinfeld two part episode The Boyfriend.
According to Forbes magazine, Jerry Seinfeld's annual earning from Seinfeld, in 1998, was $267 million, making him the highest-earning celebrity that year. Seinfeld still generates more revenue than most current shows, through syndication and DVD sales. He reportedly turned down $5 million per episode, for 22 episodes, to continue the show beyond its final season. He earned $100 million from syndication deals and stand-up appearances in 2005 and $60 million in 2006. He also earned $10 million for appearing with Bill Gates in Microsoft's 2008 ads for Windows. Between June 2008 and June 2009, Seinfeld earned $85 million, making him the highest-paid comedian during that 12-month period.
Seinfeld, an automobile enthusiast and avid collector, is rumored to own one of the largest Porsche collections in the world. He rented a hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, in Santa Monica, California, for an extended period of time during the 1990s, for storage of some of the vehicles in the collection. After his return to New York City he was involved in an extended dispute with several neighbors over the proposed building of a $1.4 million multi-story garage to contain the cars.
A current tally puts Seinfeld at 46 Porsches. Reporter Paul Bannister reports that his collection includes Porsche 911s from various years, 10 Porsche Boxsters each painted a different color and the famous 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, the same model and pearl-grey color that actor James Dean was driving when he crashed and died. The Discovery Channel television show "Chasing Classic Cars" claims that Seinfeld owns the first and last original Porsche 911s produced. The centerpiece is a $700,000 Porsche 959, one of only 337 ever built. To his initial despair, he was not allowed to drive it as US emission and crash tests were never performed because Porsche refused to donate four Porsche 959s for destruction tests, rendering the car "not street-legal". He imported the car "for exhibition purposes", which stipulates the car may never be driven on American roads. The car was made US street legal in 1999 under the "Show or Display" federal law. In several episodes of Seinfeld, Seinfeld drives a Saab 900 (NG) convertible, but a Porsche-themed painting, depicting a Porsche 904 GTS race car competing in the 1964 Targa Florio race in Italy, is visible on a wall in his apartment, as well as a Porsche racing poster featuring a 550 Spyder depicting the 1958 Targa Florio. In another episode, he is seen hiding behind a red Porsche 911RS parked on the street. In addition, an issue of Excellence, a Porsche-centered publication, is featured prominently on an outdoor magazine rack in one episode and on at least one occasion he is seen reading an issue of Road and Track magazine from circa 1990 with a cover article on the Porsche 964. He also wrote an article for the February 2004 issue of Automobile, reviewing the Porsche Carrera GT. For the story he was awarded Road Pest — Silver at the 2004 International Automotive Media Awards.