Estelle Harris of 'Seinfeld' and 'Toy Story' Dies at 93
Estelle Harris, the actress best remembered for her inimitably flustered portrayal of Estelle Costanza on "Seinfeld," has died. She was 93.
Deadline reports she died of natural causes in Palm Desert, California, and was with her son, Glen Harris, at the time. Harris said of his mom, "Her kindness, passion, sensitivity, humor, empathy and love were practically unrivaled, and she will be terribly missed by all those who knew her."
Her death came just a few weeks before her 94th birthday.
Harris was born Estelle Nussbaum on April 22, 1928, in NYC.
While raising her children, she enjoyed success on the stage, making her film debut in 1977's "Looking Up."
She was in demand as a character actress who could always play characters, popping up on such series as "Night Court" (1985 & 1986), "Married... with Children" (1987), "Brooklyn Bridge" (1991), "Law & Order" (1992), "Mad About You" (1992), and "Star Trek: Voyager" (1996).
Her first series-regular job was on the short-lived "Good Advice" (1993), but she was already busy making TV history on 27 episodes of "Seinfeld" (1992-1998) as George Costanza's (Jason Alexander) high-strung mother. The fictional Estelle endured catching her son pleasuring himself with her copy of Glamour magazine, lying hungry in a hospital bed as he furtively ogled her attractive roommate receiving a sponge bath, and having Kramer (Michael Richards) seemingly "stop short" with her. Mrs. Costanza also faced marital strife with her husband Frank (the late Jerry Stiller) — a man known to wear a cape, to require a "man-ziere," and who once sit down hard on a sculpture made of fusilli.
Upon hearing of her death, Alexander tweeted, "One of my favorite people has passed - my tv mama, Estelle Harris. The joy of playing with her and relishing her glorious laughter was a treat. I adore you, Estelle. Love to your family. Serenity now and always. #RIPEstelleHarris."
One of my favorite people has passed - my tv mama, Estelle Harris. The joy of playing with her and relishing her glorious laughter was a treat. I adore you, Estelle. Love to your family. Serenity now and always. #RIPEstelleHarris
Harris was immediately recognizable in all her TV work, but also did a number of movies, including appearing in the gangster epic "Once Upon a Time in America" (1984), in "Stand and Deliver" (1988), and as the voice of Mrs. Potato Head in "Toy Story 2" (1999), "Toy Story 3" (2010), "Toy Story 4" (2019), plus multiple projects and shorts related to the series.
"Toy Story 4" became her final work.
On top of episodic TV and films, Harris was the "Queen of Commercials." Deadline reports she booked upwards of 25 spots a year at her peak.
Harris was preceded in death by her husband of almost 60 years, Sy Harris, in January 2021. She is survived by her three children, three grandsons, and her great-grandson.