Seinfeld featured many guest stars during its nine-season run including Bette Midler. The award-winning actor and singer-songwriter played softball with George Costanza (Jason Alexander) and Jerry Seinfeld in a season 6 episode of the sitcom.
‘Seinfeld’ had trouble getting guest stars
It’s hard to imagine Seinfeld having a tough time landing guest stars. After all, it’s an iconic series and considered by many to be one of the greatest TV shows of all time. But when Seinfeld was in its infancy, getting actors to play a one-off character proved difficult, Seinfeld writer and comedian Carol Leifer told WBUR.
Even though their parts may not have been the most substantial, guest stars delivered some of Seinfeld’s memorable quotes. Before starring in Desperate Housewives, Teri Hatcher famously delivered the line, “And, by the way, they’re real and they’re spectacular,” on Seinfeld.
Bette Midler’s friend wrote for ‘Seinfeld’
The entertainment industry is small. So small that a longtime friend of Midler’s wrote episodes of Seinfeld.
As Liefer recalled, the show had been struggling to find a guest star to appear in the season 6 finale, Seinfeld Season 6 Episode 24: “The Understudy.”
“But it’s hard to believe that in 1995, which is when we shot ‘The Understudy’, it was a little difficult to get a guest star to commit to being on Seinfeld,” Leifer said. “And we really went after a lot of big actresses who passed on it.”
How did Midler end up on Seinfeld? She helped out a friend who’d been working on the show. Seinfeld reached out to the Hocus Pocus star about making an appearance. It just so happened, Midler knew one of the writers of the episode and agreed to do a guest spot.
Leifer continued, calling Midler “amazing” for agreeing to be on Seinfeld.
“The writer that I wrote that episode with, Marjorie Gross, who’s sadly since passed on, she was an old friend of Bette Midler,” Leifer said. “And when we reached out to Bette Midler, having been friends with Marge and going so far back with her, she was like, ‘Oh, absolutely I’ll do it. And I’m happy to do it.’”
“So it was that connection that made us land the amazing Bette Midler,” Leifer added.
‘Guest stars were always important’ on ‘Seinfeld’
Leifer, who served as a writer on Seinfeld Seasons 5-7, discussed the show’s guest stars with WBUR.
“The guest stars were always important,” she said. “And, as it turns out, there were so many guest stars that went on to have huge careers,” she added, noting Bryan Cranston’s turn as Jerry’s dentist.
Cranston would go on to earn critical acclaim in Breaking Bad, earning multiple Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Walter White.
Cranston’s not the only actor Seinfeld featured on their way to the top. Before getting cast as Lorelai Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, Lauren Graham played Jerry’s girlfriend, Valerie, in a 1997 Seinfeld episode.
Brad Garrett, Courteney Cox, Jon Favreau, and Mariska Hargitay are just a few other actors to appear on Seinfeld.