Jerry was born on April 29, 1954 in Brooklyn, NY as Jerome Seinfeld. His father, a professional sign maker named Kalman, had a wonderful sense of humor that piqued Jerry’s interest in comedy at an early age. While Jerry was still young he moved from Brooklyn to Massepequa, on Long Island with his father and the rest of his family—his mother, Betty, and his sister, Carolyn. During high school, Jerry wrestled and earned the nickname “The Jewish Terror.”
Jerry attended the State University of New York at Oswego, but transferred to Queen’s College in New York City after his sophomore year. He majored in Communication and Theater, and it was during his theatrical performances when he officially decided he wanted to go into comedy as a profession. When he told his family about his career choice, they were surprised because Jerry was never very funny around them.
Right after graduating from college in 1976, Jerry performed his first stand-up routine at Catch a Rising Star’s open mic night in Manhattan. Jerry worked a number of odd jobs to pay his living expenses and also worked for free at clubs in hopes of getting a few minutes of stage time-not uncommon for amateur comics. Interestingly, when he was first getting started, his mother and sister told him they didn’t think he would ever be as funny as his father. Nevertheless Jerry persevered, and within a short time his hard work paid off with a spot on a Rodney Dangerfield HBO special, after the legendary comic saw Jerry perform.
The spot gave Jerry credibility as a stand up comedian, and he was able to get stage time at clubs without working behind the scenes. In 1979 he was cast in the sitcom, Benson, as Frankie, a mail delivery boy who told jokes against everyone’s will. Jerry didn’t see eye to eye with the show’s producers about the direction of Frankie’s character, which led to him being fired after only four episodes. According to an interview, featured on his Seinfeld DVDs, he didn’t know until he showed up for rehearsal and wasn’t given a script. Ever since Jerry vowed he would only do another sitcom if given more control over production. His big break came in 1981 when he performed his comedy routine on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and was also a guest on The Merv Griffin Show. In 1984 Jerry landed a minor role in the Danny DeVito film, The Ratings Game, where he played the Network Rep. In 1987 he starred in Jerry Seinfeld, Stand up Confidential, and his witty observational humor made him one of the top comedians in the country. Shortly afterwards, he was approached by executives at NBC and asked to come up with an idea for a sitcom. Given the control he wanted Jerry agreed, but had no ideas. A few months later he bumped into fellow comedian, Larry David, and told him about his meeting with NBC. According to seinfeld-fan.net, the two went out to buy groceries at a Korean fruit stand together. They were picking on some of the items for sale when Larry said to Jerry “You know, this is what the show should be: just two comedians making fun of stuff, walking around talking.” The idea Seinfeld, a show about nothing, was born.
Originally called The Seinfeld Chronicles, Seinfeld got off to a slow start when it first aired in 1989 and didn’t achieve popularity until its second season. The show starred Jerry as himself as well as Jason Alexander (George Costanza), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine) and Michael Richards (Kramer). In the early nineties Jerry published the book Seinlanguage, an adaptation of his material, which went on to become a best seller. Around the same time he was a frequent guest on the Howard Stern Show until Howard made fun of Jerry’s relationship to the young Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss. They were dating, according to jerryseinfeldclub.com, and later engaged but never married. After seven seasons Larry David, who co-wrote, co-produced, and even made small appearances, decided to leave the show. Seinfeld ran two more seasons, and when its final episode aired it was the highest rated show on TV. For more information on Seinfeld please click here.
After Seinfeld ended in 1998 Jerry decided to return to stand up. He met Jessica Sklar at the Reebok Sports Bar, and the two started dating even though she had just married Eric Nederlander two weeks prior. They were married on December 25, 1999 and moved into Billy Joel’s old house in March of 2000, which Jerry bought for the price of 32 million dollars. Jerry’s first child, his daughter Sascha was born in November of 2000. In 2002 Jerry wrote a children’s book called Halloween, and allowed a documentary to be made about his return to stand up with new material. The film, called Comedian, also followed a lesser known comic and contrasted their careers and what they had to do for stage time.
Jerry had his first son in March of 2003 by the name of Julian, and would have his second in August of 2005 by the name of Shepard.
Jerry appeared in a ad campaign for American express in 2004 and went on to make numerous TV appearance including spots on Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and 30 Rock. He even patched things up with Howard Stern and returned to his show. Perhaps most notably, he starred in the animated film Bee Movie, in 2007, as the voice of Barry B. Benson. Most recently Jerry created and co-produced the show The Marriage Ref for NBC which began airing in 2010. According to EW.com’s Popwatch, the reality style show centers around celebrities who discuss ordinary couples’ real life marriage situations. Jerry is quoted as saying “This is not a therapy show, it’s a comedy show.” Jerry Seinfeld still performs his stand up act around the country. He is number 12 on Comedy Central’s list of the all-time greatest stand up comedians.
For other fun facts about Jerry Seinfeld, visit JerrySeinfeldClub.com.