Liz Sheridan, the veteran actress best known for playing Jerry Seinfeld’s mother Seinfeld which also went on again ALF and appeared in several Broadway shows, died today in New York City. She was 93.
Her longtime friend and representative Amanda Hendon told Deadline that Sheridan died overnight in her sleep from natural causes.
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Sheridan was already a veteran TV and film actress when she was cast as the grumpy neighbor Raquel Ochmonek on NBC’s ALF, appears in about three dozen episodes from 1986-90. Shortly after, she landed the role of Helen Seinfeld, the adoring, protective, and occasionally confused mother of Jerry Seinfeld’s Jerry. She appeared in more than 20 episodes ranging from episode 2 – “The Stakeout” at the beginning of season 2 – to the 1998 finale.
During SeinfeldSheridan stood for Mrs. Stillman’s voice in the animated sitcom from 1994-98 Life with Louie, with Louie Anderson in the lead role.
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She was a longtime dancer and also performed on Broadway, including opposite Christopher Lloyd and a young Meryl Streep in the 1977 musical Happy ending.
Sheridan later wrote a book about his 1950s romantic relationship with James Dean. Published in 2000, Dizzy and Jimmy: My life with James Dean – A love story depicted their love affair from when the NYC dancer met the 21-year-old Indiana father-in-law boy who had come to New York via Hollywood.
She has also long been close friends with The witch star Elizabeth Montgomery.
Sheridan, born April 10, 1929 in Rye, NY, began her screen career with guest recordings on series such as Kojak, The White Shadow and Give me a break! and had small roles in the Madonna movie Who is that girl and features Star 80 and Jekyll & Hyde: Together Again. She continued to guest appear on television through the mid-1980s in popular programs, including One day at a time, three are a crowd, scarecrow and Mrs. King, Three’s a Crowd, The A-Team, Newhart, Remington Steele, Moonlight and Murder, she wrote before she lands her recurring concert as the eccentric and spy-loving Raquel on ALF.
All that would lead to her signature role on Seinfeld, which became the most popular sitcom in the 1990s and remains a popular pop culture favorite in rebroadcasts. Her Helen Seinfeld character was the prototype who loved mother, and when she heard that “Crazy” Joe Devola was “after” her beloved son in the episode “The Wallet” from 1992, she was disbelieving that there was anyone who did not like Jerry.
“Mom, I know it can be hard for you to understand, but I’m sure there are a lot of people who do not like me,” Jerry told her. Helen’s predictable response was, “No, that’s not true. You’re a wonderful, wonderful boy. Everyone likes you. It’s impossible not to like you. Impossible!”
Seinfeld debuted on NBC as the summer replacement with the title Seinfeld Chronicles in July 1989, when stand-up comedy was hot and comics landed TV concerts. From there, the “show about nothing” went uphill, but landed the plum afterwards-Cheers 21.30 Thursday the following spring. The show’s popularity grew with each subsequent season and finally broke into the post-season Top 25 on the Nielsen rankings in 1992-93 after Cheers packed his 12-season run.
Seinfeld took over Cheers’ 21.00 slot for the 1993-94 season and finished the ranked No. 3 among all primetime shows. It would be No. 1 or No. 2 overall for the remainder of its nine-season term ending in 1998.
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Sheridan was the last surviving “parent” from Seinfeld. Estelle Harris, who played George Costanza’s mother Estelle, died last week, and Jerry Stiller, who played Frank Costanza, died in 2020. Barney Martin, who played Sheridan’s husband on screen, Morty Seinfeld, died in 2005.
Sheridan would continue to work in film and television through the 2000s, with roles in films including Now that you know, end the deal and play the game and guest recordings on TV series incl speak up and American father!
Sheridan leaves behind her daughter and son-in-law.