Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
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Speaking of “Seinfeld”, it was the popular show about nothing that dominated the ratings game for NBC from 1989 to 1998, with more than 76 million people watching the memorable finale. That meant that more than half of the people in the United States that had a television were locked into the series finale, making it the fourth most watched series finale ever.
The show centered around four neurotic characters named Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld), Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), George (Jason Alexander) and Kramer (Michael Richards). They often found themselves in awkward situations in New York City and pointing out the small annoyances in people that they have met or been in relationships with. It was relatable to a lot of people, which is why the show is still popular in syndication to this day and continues to pump out millions of dollars in revenue.
Thanks to “Seinfeld”, we still have a lot of quotes that we hear in pop culture today. If you have ever heard one of your friends or family members refer to “man hands” or “hellooooo” or “double dipper,” then you can bet it’s a “Seinfeld” reference. It’s one of the biggest pieces of television history.
Some of the more endearing characters on “Seinfeld” were the parents of the show. Jerry’s parents (Barney Martin and Liz Sheridan) and George’s parents (Jerry Stiller and Estelle Harris) were the two pairs that were featured the most. Kramer’s parents were never featured on the show (since much of his backstory was never explained anyway), but you probably don’t remember seeing Elaine’s parents all that much.
In the second season, you get to see one of Elaine’s parents for the first time, but it’s only her father in the form of Lawrence Tierney playing Alton Benes in “The Jacket”. Julia Louis-Dreyfus suggested that Mary Tyler Moore portray her mother, but the character was not added. The original plan was to have Tierney be a bit of a recurring character, but his behavior on set would wind up keeping his character off of the show.
Tierney had played a bit of a hard nosed guy throughout much of his early movie roles such as “Born to Kill” and “Dillinger”. He ended up being just as intense in those movies as he was in real life. During filming of one of the scenes, Tierney had swiped away one of the knives in the apartment setting of the show and stuffed it in his jacket. When Jerry Seinfeld saw it and confronted him, Tierney made a motion like he was going to stab Jerry, playing it off as a joke.
While Tierney thought he was being harmless, many members of the cast and crew were frightened by his actions. Tierney would never be invited back into the show, but for co-creator Larry David, he used Tierney as a bargaining chip. If any of the actors on set would start to rile up any drama, David would tell them that if they don’t straighten up then he will write an episode where their character has to spend a lot of alone time with Tierney.
As usual, David was only joking when he said that he would bring Tierney back as an enforcer of sorts, but it was effective nonetheless. As for the episode, it was a big success as it was watched by about one-sixth of all television sets in the United States and is remembered to this day by the catchy tune “Master of the House” that was sang by George Costanza and then eventually Tierney’s character.
“Seinfeld” certainly had a lot of memorable one-off and recurring characters, though Alton Benes isn’t usually listed among some of the best. Though we will always have Tierney singing the tune during the ending credits and the on-set anecdote of Seinfeld asking Tierney “Hey Lawrence, what do you got there in your jacket?”