Liz Sheridan Dies: ‘Seinfeld’ Mom & ‘ALF’ Actress Was 93

·3 min read

Liz Sheridan, the veteran actress best known for playing Jerry Seinfeld’s mother on Seinfeld who also recurred on ALF and appeared in several Broadway shows, died today in New York City. She was 93.

Her longtime friend and rep Amanda Hendon told Deadline that Sheridan died overnight in her sleep of natural causes.

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Sheridan and Michael Richards in ‘Seinfeld’ - Credit: Everett Collection
Sheridan and Michael Richards in ‘Seinfeld’ - Credit: Everett Collection

Everett Collection

Sheridan already was a veteran TV and film actress when she was cast as the grumpy neighbor Raquel Ochmonek on NBC’s ALF, appearing in about three dozen episodes from 1986-90. Soon after that, she landed the role of Helen Seinfeld, the adoring, protective and occasionally bemused 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 Seinfeld‘s run, Sheridan provided the voice of Mrs. Stillman in the 1994-98 animated sitcom Life with Louie, starring Louie Anderson.

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A longtime dancer, she also appeared on Broadway, including opposite Christopher Lloyd and a young Meryl Streep in the 1977 musical Happy End.

Sheridan later wrote a book about her 1950s romantic relationship with James Dean. Published in 2000, Dizzy and Jimmy: My Life with James Dean – A Love Story chronicled their love affair from when the NYC dancer met the 21-year-old Indiana farm boy who had come to New York via Hollywood.

She also was longtime close friends with Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery.

Born on April 10, 1929 in Rye, NY, Sheridan began her screen career with guest shots on such series as Kojak, The White Shadow and Gimme a Break! and had small roles in the Madonna film Who’s That Girl and features Star 80 and Jekyll & Hyde: Together Again. She continued to guest on TV through the mid-1980s on popular shows including One Day at a Time, Three’s a Crowd, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Three’s a Crowd, The A-Team, Newhart, Remington Steele, Moonlighting and Murder, She Wrote before landing her recurring gig as the eccentric and spy-happy Raquel on ALF.

All that would lead to her signature role on Seinfeld, which became the most popular sitcom of the 1990s and remains a quotable pop-culture favorite in reruns. Her Helen Seinfeld character was the prototype doting mom, and when she heard that “Crazy” Joe Devola was “after” her beloved son in the 1992 episode “The Wallet,” she was incredulous that there was anyone who didn’t like Jerry.

“Ma, I know this may be hard for you to understand, but I am sure there are many people who do not like me,” Jerry told her. Helen’s predictable reply was: “No, it’s not true. You’re a wonderful, wonderful boy. Everybody likes you. It’s impossible not to like you. Impossible!”

Sheridan and Philip Bruns, the original Morty Seinfeld, in “The Stakeout” (1990) - Credit: Everett Collection
Sheridan and Philip Bruns, the original Morty Seinfeld, in “The Stakeout” (1990) - Credit: Everett Collection

Everett Collection

Seinfeld debuted on NBC as a summer replacement titled The Seinfeld Chronicles in July 1989, when stand-up comedy was hot and comics were landing TV gigs. From there, the “show about nothing” had an uphill climb but landed the plum post-Cheers 9:30 p.m. Thursday slot the following spring. The show’s popularity increased with each ensuing season, finally breaking into the postseason Top 25 in the Nielsen rankings in 1992-93 after Cheers wrapped its juggernaut 12-season run.

Seinfeld took over Cheers’ 9 p.m. slot for the 1993-94 season and ended it ranked No. 3 among all primetime shows. It would rank No. 1 or No. 2 overall for the rest of its nine-season run, wrapping in 1998.

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Sheridan was the last surviving “parent” from Seinfeld. Estelle Harris, who played George Costanza’s mother Estelle, died just last week, and Jerry Stiller, who played Frank Costanza, died in 2020. Barney Martin, who played Sheridan’s onscreen husband Morty Seinfeld, died in 2005.

Sheridan would continue to work in film and TV through the 2000s, with roles in films including Now You Know, Closing the Deal and Play the Game and guest shots on TV series including Numbers and American Dad!

Sheridan is survived by her daughter and son-in-law.

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