The "Real" Seinfeld Characters
The Seinfeld TV show was created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld and was based on some real life characters, events, and locations in and around New York City.
Jerry Seinfeld is a real person of course, but there is also another real guy called Kenny Kramer, who was the actual wacky neighbor of Larry David and became known on the show as Cosmo Kramer (Played by actor Michael Richards, more recently known for his racial outburst at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles). The hyper neurotic character George Constanza (Played by Jason Alexander) is based on Larry David himself. Even co-creator and writer Larry David performed in 28 episodes of Seinfeld as George Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees baseball team, for which George works, further blurring the line between fiction and reality.
The most familiar image to Seinfeld viewers is the exterior shot of a diner, known to Jerry Seinfeld and his friends as Monk's. The diner in question is in reality called Tom's Restaurant, and it is located at 112th and Broadway on Manhattan's Upper West Side. On the show, this is where the gang routinely meets to chat, and it has the distinction of being the only place where Elaine can get her favorite "Big Salad".
The Soup Nazi
Believe it or not, there is also a real "Soup Nazi". His name is Al Yeganeh, and his first business was called Soup Kitchen International, a little place on West 55th Street where he served up his delicious soups. No doubt due to the notoriety of his Seinfeld character (Played on the show by actor Larry Thomas), Al has now created a franchise called The Original Soup Man, with locations all around New York and throughout North America. As for Al Yeganeh's original Soup Kitchen in midtown, it has been closed down, and rumor has it will be turned into a soup museum!
Some people may not realize that the official street address Jerry Seinfeld always used, 129 W. 81st Street, in reality looks nothing like the exterior picture that they would always show on the Seinfeld TV Show. Manhattan's West 81st Street is a fairly narrow, very pretty tree-lined street full of brownstones and quaint buildings, and it is where the real Jerry Seinfeld lived back in his New York stand-up comic days before becoming a big TV star. Meanwhile, Seinfeld co-creator Larry David lived in midtown in a big apartment building on 43rd Street and 10th Avenue. And his real-life wacky neighbor was a guy named Kenny Kramer.
Other Seinfeld Sites and Locations
New York locals know that many of the locations mentioned on Seinfeld exist in reality, from Roosevelt Hospital where Kramer sees the infamous "pig man" to the West Side YMCA where Jerry and George meet baseball player Keith Hernandez. H&H Bagels, Barneys, and the NBC building at Rockefeller Center are also significant Seinfeld landmarks. There are several places that aren't in the same spot as when first mentioned on Seinfeld, but are still in business somewhere in the city, such as the Improv comedy club, the Champagne Video store, and the restaurant Mendy's, where Jerry and fellow comedian Banja argued over whether or not soup counts as a full meal.
A Seinfeld tour operates in New York city - It is hosted by Kenny Kramer (The real person that Cosmo Kramer's character is based on). This 3 hour tour includes a hilarious insight into the Seinfeld show and visits to many of the locations made famous by Seinfeld including the real Soup Kitchen and possibly even meet Al the Soup Man (BTW He doesn't like being called the Soup Nazi). You also get to visit the office building where Elaine Benes worked for Pendant Publishing, Cosmo Kramer had his coffee table book published, and George Costanza had sex on his desk with the cleaning lady. Jerry Seinfeld's official Upper West Side apartment address is also on the tour, but most people don't realize the outside shots seen on TV are actually filmed in L.A. -- you can even see the earthquake plates on the side of the building !
Amazingly, many of the Seinfeld characters are based on real life people. Below is the breakdown of each of the Seinfeld actors, characters, and their counterparts in reality:
Character on Seinfeld
Based On In Real Life
Number Episode Appearances
|Jerry Seinfeld||Jerry Seinfeld||Jerry Seinfeld||175 episodes, 1989-1998|
|Jason Alexander||George Costanza||Larry David||174 episodes, 1989-1998|
|Michael Richards||Cosmo Kramer||Kenny Kramer||173 episodes, 1989-1998|
|Julia Louis-Dreyfus||Elaine Benes||Carol Leifer and Monica Yates||172 episodes, 1990-1998|
|Wayne Knight||"Norman" Newman||Larry's David's Maintenance Man||47 episodes, 1991-1998)|
|Larry David||George Steinbrenner||George Steinbrenner||28 episodes, 1991-1998)|