'Seinfeld' Mom Liz Sheridan, Who Wrote of an Affair with James Dean, Dies at 93
Liz Sheridan, noted as one of TV's most beloved moms for her performance on "Seinfeld," has died at 93.
Sheridan reportedly died in her sleep Friday — five days after her birthday, and on the birth anniversary of her best friend, the late Elizabeth Montgomery — of natural causes.
Born April 10, 1929, in NYC, she spent her youth as a dancer.
As she would recount in the 2000 memoir "Dizzy & Jimmy: My Life with James Dean — A Love Story," she met future film icon James Dean when he was 20 and she was 21.
According to Sheridan, she and Dean had a passionate affair during which they lived together and he proposed marriage, all right before he took off for Hollywood and superstardom. She turned him down, instead taking work in the West Indies.
Sheridan returned to the U.S. and racked up dozens of appearances on episodic TV, starting with "Kojak" in 1977.
On Broadway, she worked with Christopher Lloyd and Meryl Streep in 1977's Happy End," as well as in other productions.
She also appeared on such shows as "Archie Bunker's Place" (1981), "St. Elsewhere" (1983), "Oh Madeline" (1983), the pilot episode of "Moonlighting" (1985), and "Remington Steele" (1985-1986).
From 1986-1990, she played nosy neighbor Mrs. Ochmonek on 34 episodes of "ALF," but it was her stint as Helen Seinfeld that earned her TV immortality. In spite of being so closely associated with the series that it stunted her ability to get work after the series ended, she was only on 21 episodes — but was the only recurring character to appear in all eight seasons, and also had the distinction of appearing on the first and last episodes.
As Jerry's doting mom, she memorably chastised him when he humbly noted that not everybody likes him ("Doesn't like you? How could anyone not like you?"), was a thorn in Elaine's side over the sweltering temperature inside the Seinfelds' Del Boca Vista home ("Mrs. Seinfeld, please, I am begging you: Put the air conditioner on!" "You're hot?"), and reacted to a false rumor that her son was gay with one of the series' most famous catchphrases: "Not that there's anything wrong with it."
Post-"Seinfeld," Sheridan made a popular Denny's commercial with Barney "Morty Seinfeld" Martin, and appeared in a number of films and TV shows, including providing the voice of Mrs. Stillman on "Life with Louie" (1994-1997) and playing a woman who slips an aging suitor a Viagra in the indie "Play the Game" (2009), Andy Griffith's final film.
Sheridan was preceded in death by her husband, jazz trumpeter and writer Dale Wales, in 2003. The couple had been together for over 40 years. She is survived by their daughter.