"No soup for you!"
The Costanza Suit
So, we all know that the character of Jerry was based on the actor who played him, Jerry Seinfeld, but what about his co-creator Larry David? It’s long been known to super fans that George Costanza was David’s representation on the show — but he wasn’t the only inspiration for the character.
It turns out that George’s last name, “Costanza,” was the same as an old friend of Seinfeld’s, Mike Costanza. At a certain point in the show’s run, the real Costanza tried to sue NBC for a hundred million dollars for using his name and likeness. The court didn’t buy it (it’s a last name after all) and the case was thrown out before it went too far.
As it turns out, the judge ended up ruling that Costanza had missed the statute of limitations, as he didn’t sue within one year following the show’s debut. You snooze you lose!
But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t able to capitalize on it somehow: Mike Costanza released a book called The Real Seinfeld: As Told by the Real Costanza. You can even buy it on Amazon for the Seinfeld fan in your life who has everything else!
Kramer vs. Kramer
Mike Costanza wasn’t the only name-spiration for a Seinfeld character. Kramer’s name was also taken from someone Larry David knew: his old neighbor, Kenny!
The show handled this one a bit differently and paid Kenny Kramer $1,000 to use his name on the show.
A stand-up comedian in real life, Kenny Kramer lived across the hall from Larry David in a federally subsidized apartment building in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. Among the real-life traits the fictional Kramer took from the real one are hot tubs, golf, and trying to pitch weird inventions and strange ideas.
The real-life Kramer went on to develop the “Kramer Reality Tour,” which took guests around New York City to visit the real sites and inspirations used in the show.
A Festivus for the Rest of Us
The Costanza Christmas alternative “Festivus” has become quite the cultural phenomenon over the years since its first appearance in Seinfeld‘s December 1997 episode, “The Strike.” Considering the quirkiness of the holiday, many fans thought that it could only come from the brains of the writers and the Seinfeld universe. It turns out that is only partially true.
Festivus did come from writer Dan O’Keefe, but only because his own family actually celebrated the alt-holiday in their own home throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The O’Keefe Festivus was reportedly even more out-there than the Costanza version, though! In real life, Dan’s dad first invented the holiday to celebrate the anniversary of the first date he ever went on with his wife.
What a way to honor that legacy by watching it turn into an international phenomenon years after you coined it as a cute way to charm your wife! Love it.