‘Seinfeld’ Co-Creator Larry David Was the First Actor to Play Newman Before Wayne Knight

Seinfeld was a sitcom defined by its characters. Who can forget Seinfeld’s talented main cast who have made fans laugh during the show’s run and well into syndication? The show featured so many hilarious characters in main and supporting roles. Some memorable characters popped up multiple times while others like the Soup Nazi only appeared once or twice. 

One of the show’s most well-known and popular characters was Newman. The actor who played the character got famous for that role, but did you know someone else actually played him first? Let’s take a closer look at the show, Newman’s role, and who played him first. 

What was ‘Seinfeld’ about?

Seinfeld revolutionized the sitcom as we know it. It followed comedian Jerry Seinfeld as he dissected the minutiae of everyday life from the comfort of his New York City Upper West Side apartment. The other main members of the cast were Jason Alexander as his best friend George, Michael Richards as the neighbor Kramer, and Julia-Louis Dreyfus as Jerry’s former girlfriend and current pal Elaine. 

The show did a deep dive on social customs, expressions, and other minor things you often wouldn’t give a second thought to. For example, one subplot deals with George causing a rift between a married couple by saying “God bless you” when the wife sneezes. It was social examinations like this that made the show stand out from the rest. 

While the main cast made the show great, it was also buoyed by a strong rotating cast of supporting characters. Secondary characters who would often pop up in multiple episodes made the show’s universe feel a little larger. Some of the more notable supporting characters included George’s dad Frank Costanza, Elaine’s boss J. Peterman, and the squinting mechanic, David Puddy. 

Of course, none of them were as notorious as the show’s most infamous secondary character: Newman. 

Who was Newman? 

Newman was another one of Jerry’s neighbors played by actor Wayne Knight. Newman was Jerry’s sworn nemesis, though no reason for their strife is ever given. Jerry always greeted Newman with the same phrase (“Hello….Newman”) uttered with contempt and disgust. While Jerry despised Newman, Kramer liked him, often getting involved in various hijinks with him. The character was a U.S. postal worker, something that was often poked fun at during the show. 

He may not have been a member of the main cast, but Newman’s presence on the show was an important one. He served as a foil for Jerry, and fans loved their hilarious interactions. One rather memorable subplot involves Newman attempting to steal a lock of Jerry’s hair to prove to their barber that Jerry was getting his hair cut by someone else. 

Newman was one of the more popular characters outside the big four. While Newman is Knight’s most popular role, he’s also appeared in a few notable films as well. Knight had roles in Basic Instinct, Jurassic Park, and Space Jam

Larry David was the first actor to play Newman before Wayne Knight

Larry David speaks onstage during the " " panel discussion at the portion of the 2013 Summer Television Critics Association tour - Day 2 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 25, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.
Larry David | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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It’s impossible to imagine anyone else but Knight in the role of Newman, but Newman’s first mention on the show actually predates Knight’s first actual appearance. According to Thought Catalog, an early-season episode of the show is Newman’s first appearance, but only his voice can be heard. He’s threatening to jump off the roof of their apartment building, while Kramer yells at him from Jerry’s window. The voice of Newman was played by none other than co-creator Larry David

Producers dubbed in Knight’s voice for re-airings of the episode, but on the initial airing, David voiced the postman.