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Estelle Harris, George’s mother in ‘Seinfeld’, dies at 93

Estelle Harris, who made her way into the hearts of millions of “Seinfeld” fans as Estelle Costanza, died Saturday in Palm Desert, Calif. She was 93 years old.

Her son Glen Harris announced the death in a statement sent by Ms Harris’ agent.

In 27 episodes – starting in 1992 during the fourth season of “Seinfeld”, around the time the show became a pop culture sensation, and until its final episode in 1998 – Ms. Harris embarrassed and harangued his son, one of the four main characters, George Costanza (Jason Alexander) and his father, Frank (Jerry Stiller).

During her character meltdowns, often in response to slights and breaches of decorum, Ms. Harris unleashed a cry that had the urgency of a dying hyena. His comedic style sparked paranoia and outrage in response to transgressions like his son continuing to wear the same button-up shirt five years after buying it.

Estelle Nussbaum was born on April 4, 1928 in New York City, where her Polish-Jewish parents owned a candy store. She spent much of her childhood in Tarentum, Pennsylvania, a small mining town. There she endured anti-Semitic taunts but found an outlet in stage performances. Her father, who she said “spoke King’s English”, insisted that she take elocution lessons from an early age.

She moved back to New York in her late teens and later married Sy Harris, a window treatment salesman. They had three children and for a time Mrs Harris was a homemaker.

She worked her way through community theaters and TV commercials before her big break on “Seinfeld.” She went on to take on other prominent roles as a character actress for the Shrill and the Unhinged, including in the “Toy Story” film franchise, for which she provided the voice of Mrs. Potato Head.

She is survived by her children, three grandsons and a great-grandson.

A full obituary will be published soon.


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