As “Seinfeld” cerebrates the 25th anniversary of its premiere on Saturday, here’s a look back at the now-famous women behind the not-so-great men whose careers took off after their roles as Jerry’s, George’s and Kramer’s girlfriends.
Right before she starred as Monica on “Friends” — another NBC “must see TV” stalwart — Courteney Cox played Meryl, Jerry’s “wife.” Their short-lived fake marriage came to an end when Meryl found out that Jerry was sharing their dry cleaning discount (the reason she pretended to be his wife in the first place) with another woman.
Teri Hatcher, who played Jerry’s busty girlfriend, is responsible for one of the most memorable lines in “Seinfeld” history: “They’re real … and they’re spectacular.” Hatcher reportedly ad-libbed the kicker. The sign-off came when Sidra dumped Jerry after Elaine tried to investigate (face first) if her breasts were real. Coincidentally, future fellow “Real Housewife” Brenda Strong guest starred in another breast-related episode. She was Elaine’s nemesis Sue Ellen, “the bra-less wonder,” who later wore a bra without a top and caused Kramer to have a car accident. He’s unable to prove this in a court of law; Sue Ellen tries on the bra and it doesn’t fit. (“A bra’s gotta fit right up a person’s skin, like a glove!”)
Despite her model good looks, Jerry just couldn’t stick it out with Jillian. “True Blood’s” nearly unrecognizable Kristin Bauer van Straten played a woman with “man hands.” She even opened a beer bottle with her bare bear paws.
Before having to deal with a meth-dealer of a husband on “Breaking Bad,” Anna Gunn had to deal with a jealous boyfriend. Jerry accuses her of being unfaithful when George, while not wearing his glasses, mistakes an overweight cop petting her horse for Amy (Gunn) kissing Jerry’s horse-faced cousin Jeffrey. Her future TV hubby Bryan Cranston had a recurring role on the show as a “dentist to the stars” who converts to Judaism for the jokes.
Even though Megan Mullally was tuned down for the part of Elaine Benes, her small “Seinfeld” role as one of George’s handful of girlfriends raised her profile. She commanded a starting salary of $80,000 per episode five years later on “Will & Grace.” Her character broke up with George after her brother caught George double-dipping a chip during her aunt’s funeral. It wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Betsy always sat on George’s right side — he could only make a move when a woman was on his left.
Christine Taylor appeared as Jerry’s seemingly perfect girlfriend Ellen, who he discovered was a friend-less “loser.” When the stand-up comic’s friends start disliking her and his parents fall in love with her, Jerry decides to call it quits.
Debra Messing landed one of the titular roles on “Will & Grace” a year after appearing on “Seinfeld” as Jerry’s girlfriend. When Messing’s character Beth’s marriage crumbles, Jerry swoops in while Elaine puts the moves on Beth’s husband. However, Jerry eventually dumps her when he realizes she’s an anti-Semite.
Janeane Garofalo played Jerry’s only serious significant other. The serial dater even gets engaged to Jeannie before deciding that he doesn’t want to wed his female counterpart. He also gets cold feet when George breaks their pact to both get married, after his fiancé Susan dies from licking toxic wedding envelopes.
Catherine Keener played the artist responsible for the now-infamous portrait of Kramer. She seems like a catch after giving George tickets to a Yankees game and penning a touching letter to Jerry. But Jerry kicks her to the curb when he discovers that the letter was plagiarized from a Neil Simon play.
Jane Leeves plays Jerry’s virgin girlfriend who breaks up with him in disgust after learning about his no masturbating contest (he was the master of his domain). She ends up sleeping with John F. Kennedy, Jr. instead.
Courtney Cox’s future “Cougar Town” costar Christa Miller appeared as two different characters on “Seinfeld”: George’s girlfriend and bra salesmen Sid Farkus’ boss. George asks Elaine to find out if Paula (Miller) really likes him during their drawing class, Paula says she does, adding “looks aren’t that important to me.” He swallows his pride and stays together with her before dumping her for sucking on his discarded peach pit. “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David later helped her land her “Drew Carey Show” role.
Sarah Silverman’s relationship with Kramer just doesn’t work out as her “jimmy legs” keep him awake at night.
Much like her disposable “Sex and the City” relationships, Kristin Davis had a quick fling with Jerry. The cruel comedian dumps her after she unknowingly uses a toothbrush he accidentally knocked into her toilet. She later dates “hack” comedian Kenny Bania.
Before playing the perfect mom on “Gilmore Girls” and “Parenthood,” Lauren Graham had a storyline with a domineering step-mother on “Seinfeld.” Jerry and Valerie’s mom compete for prominence on her speed dial. She eventually dumps him when he gets excited about being ranked ahead of poison control.
The third “Desperate Housewives” guest star was one of Jerry’s flavors of the week. Marcia Cross played a dermatologist who Jerry dubbed “Pimple Popper M.D.” because she couldn’t stop bragging about saving lives.
Stifler’s future mom made one of her first TV appearances as Jerry’s masseuse girlfriend. She dumps Jerry after he keeps nagging her for a massage. “I will not submit to forcible massage,” she yells.
Lisa Edelstein plays “house” with George in multiple episodes. Karen, the “Risotto Girl,” gets fed up when George continually rejects her sexual advances because he’s busy obsessing about why Jerry’s masseuse girlfriend Joyce (Jennifer Coolidge) dislikes him.