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Time’ magazines Jess Cagle just posted a classic Jerry Seinfeld profile online. It covers all the bases: Jerry gets photographed in the New York Transit Museum in an untucked oxford, blue jeans and Dad sneakers; he raves about his kids, his wife, and grimy stand-up bars; he talks up his new film Bee Movie; he makes a few observations on the state of TV (The Sopranos was “a really good sitcom. I watched that show for the jokes”); and, of course, he gets in some great one-liners (on kids: “Why would you want someone in your house that just craps in their pants while they’re looking you right in the eye?”). Then, out of nowhere, things suddenly turn dark, when Seinfeld candidly credits his father’s death for his success.
Seinfeld, who has an older sister, Carolyn Liebling, describes his parents, Kal and Betty Seinfeld, as loving “but not interested in a good way.” Seinfeld’s mother had grown up in orphanages and foster care. His father, who owned a signmaking business, came from a broken home. “They were loners,” says Seinfeld. “They kind of raised us in a very hands-off way. I said, ‘I want to be a comedian.’ They said, ‘Oh, well, we look forward to hearing about it.’” When his father died in 1985, Seinfeld was already a successful comedian who had appeared on the Tonight Show, but “after he passed away, somebody said to me, ‘Now your career is really going to take off,’” says Seinfeld. “In some way the child will sometimes hold back so as not to surpass the father while he’s alive. Maybe it’s the mortality thing. I just started driving a little harder, working a little harder.”
Forget another sitcom: Get this guy a book deal for a memoir! —Logan Hill
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