Jewish American actress Estelle Harris, known for her role as Estelle Constanza on the popular sitcom Seinfeld, passed away on Saturday at the age of 93.
Harris died at home in Palm Desert, California, of natural causes, her son Glen Harris told The Hollywood Reporter. She was to turn 94 on April 4.
In addition to her role on Seinfeld, Harris was known for her voiceover work, including a memorable turn as the overbearing Mrs. Potato Head in Pixar’s Toy Story franchise.
Harris also played Aunt Harriet in Nora Ephron’s directorial debut This Is My Life (1992), opposite Julie Kavner, and appeared opposite Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in two films: in Out to Sea (1997), as an acerbic cruise-ship guest, and in The Odd Couple II (1998).
Harris was born Estelle Nussbaum in New York City to candy-store owners Isaac and Anna Nussbaum. After becoming a full-time mother and homemaker, she raised three children before deciding to make a living as an actor.
Harris made it to the big screen in 1977, winning small roles in Looking Up and Summerdog. Next, she appeared as an unfeeling mother in Sergio Leone’s epic gangster film Once Upon a Time in America in 1984.
At the prompting of one of her sons, who had freelanced as a publicist, Harris made the jump to the sitcom world in 1985, securing a three-episode arc on NBC’s Night Court.
In 1992, Harris portrayed a nagging mother on NBC’s Mad About You, which would presage her role on Seinfeld, where she became widely known for playing Estelle Costanza. She appeared in 29 episodes of that series. She joined the rest of the Seinfeld cast on a 2009 episode of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.
She first appeared as Mrs. Potato Head in Toy Story 2 (1999), and reprised the role in the following two sequels and in several short films.
Harris married Sy in 1953, and they had two sons, Eric and Glen, and a daughter, Taryn.