A Seinfeld Legend Has Died

By Michileen Martin | 3 weeks ago


Liz Sheridan — best known as the lead character’s mother Helen on the hit sitcom Seinfeld — has died. According to Deadline, Sheridan’s representative and friend Amanda Shendon said she died in her sleep Friday morning in New York City of natural causes. The actress was 93 years old.

Between 1990 and 1998, Liz Sheridan appeared as Jerry Seinfeld’s mother on Seinfeld over 20 times, including in the series finale. According to THR, she holds the distinction of being the only recurring actor on the sitcom to appear at least once in every season. Her character was known for having an absolutely spotless view of her son, often saying “How could anyone not like him?” She often appeared alongside the late Barney Martin, who played her husband Morty. Just about every scene in which Morty was speaking to someone on the phone, Helen shows up speaking on the same phone line.

She was so closely associated to her Seinfeld role that in 1998 Liz Sheridan told Entertainment Weekly it was making it next to impossible for both her and Martin to find work outside the sitcom. She did continue to make screen appearances however, mostly in one-offs or small movie roles, until 2010.

Beside Seinfeld, Sheridan made another big splash in the sitcom world as Raquel Ochmonek on ALF — the show about the mild-mannered family, the Tanners, who harbor a wise-cracking, cat-eating alien in their home. Ochmonek is the classic nosy neighbor always suspicious of the Tanners and trying to unearth their secrets. She constantly drops in on them without warning and even spots ALF in the premiere episode.

liz sheridan alf
Liz Sheridan on ALF

Long before she was playing wife to either Morty Seinfeld or Trevor Ochmonek (John LaMotta), Sheridan was stepping out with one of the most legendary names in Hollywood — she was the lover of James Dean. In 1996 she told People that they were both just starting their careers when it happened, and that they were one another’s first loves. She wrote about her times with the tragic actor in the 2000 memoir Dizzy & Jimmy: My Life with James Dean. In 2012, Sheridan was a guest on The Paul Leslie Hour podcast, where she talked about her efforts to get her memoir adapted to the big screen.

Sheridan began her show business career as a singer. After turning down a proposal of marriage from James Dean, she moved to the Virgin Islands and worked singing and playing the piano. Around 15 years later she returned to New York City and started doing work on the stage. Along with other productions, she worked with Meryl Streep and Christopher Lloyd in 1977 on the musical Happy End.

The news of Liz Sheridan’s passing comes only a couple of weeks after the death of Estelle Harris, another Seinfeld star. Along with being a hotly sought after voice actor Harris played George Costanza’s mother Estelle on the sitcom. In fact, with Sheridan’s passing goes the last of the actors who played the Costanza/Seinfeld parents. Barney Martin passed away in 2005 while Jerry Stiller — who played George’s father Frank, known far and wide as the creator of Festivus, the holiday “for the rest of us” — died in 2020.