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Friday, July 8th, 2011

Checking In with…the Girlfriends of George Costanza, Seasons 1-5

Whatever happened to predictability, the milkman, the paperboy, evening TV…and the girlfriends and lovers of George Costanza?

One of Seinfeld’s best unexplained jokes was why dozens of attractive women would fall for guys like Jerry and George. Especially George. (I get the Kramer thing.) With the exception of Susan, who lasted longer than any female should want to in the company of George, seemingly every episode brought a new girlfriend or lover for the diminutive, balding, angry, Yankees-employed momma’s boy. Over this week and next, we’ll see where all the actresses who played them are today, beginning with seasons 1-5.

Tracy Kolis, as Marlene (“The Ex-Girlfriend”)

On Seinfeld: George breaks up with Marlene, because she extends conversations much longer than they naturally should, and then Jerry begins dating her. (Later, in season six’s “The Soup,” Kolis would play a completely different character, Kelly, a Monk’s waitress that George tries to impress.)

Since: her last role was in 1999, as Sheila in the “Wild, Wild Mess” episode of Popular.

Tory Polone, as Carol (“The Phone Message”)

On Seinfeld: Coming home after a date, Carol asks George if he wants to come up to her apartment for some coffee, a clear euphemism for “let’s have sex.” He stupidly declines and doesn’t realize his mistake until the next day. Then come the unanswered phone calls and long, rambling messages…

Since: “The Phone Message” was her lasting acting role.

Christine Dunford, as Leslie (“The Baby Shower”)

On Seinfeld: George considers the worst date of his life to be the one he had with Leslie, when she poured Bosco all over his red shirt during a performance art piece in Brooklyn, and he’s excited to tell her as much during her baby shower, which Elaine is planning at Jerry’s apartment. (Dunford would later appear in season five’s “The Pie” as a saleswoman who works at the store with the Elaine-resembling mannequin.)

Since: Dunford played Det. Kirby McIntire in Hudson Street, the Tony Danza-starring ABC sitcom that ran for one season in 1995-1996. She would later appear in Love & Basketball (as Coach Davis) and an episode of Fraiser (“Guns 'N Neuroses”). She’s a long-time member of the Chicago-based Lookingglass Theatre Company and recently co-founded the Memory Ensemble, an “improvisational theatre experience for persons with memory loss.” Dunford and Jason Alexander reunited in the 2006 film How to Go Out on a Date in Queens.

Valerie Mahaffey, as Patrice (“The Truth”)

On Seinfeld: The woman that checks in to a “depression clinic” after George breaks up with her.

Since: A year after “The Truth” aired, Maheffey won the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Emmy for her performance as Eve on Northern Exposure. In 1997, she starred as Martin Short’s wife in Jungle 2 Jungle and two years later, Mahaffey had a recurring role on E.R. as Joi Abbot. Her two highest profile recent roles are Alma Hodge, the ex-wife of Kyle MacLachlan’s character on Desperate Housewives, and Dr. Ocean on The United States of Tara. She can soon be seen in If I Were You, a film starring Marcia Gay Harden.

Dawn Arnemann, as Monica (“The Café”)

On Seinfeld: Monica asks George to take an IQ test, and he’s so worried that he might disappoint her, he asks Elaine to take it for him instead. Needless to say, the plan backfires.

Since: Arnemann, who appeared in multiple TV movies in the 1980s and 1990s, including Manhunt: Search for the Night Stalker, had her last role in 1997, playing “Woman” in an episode of Cybill. She also played Miss Gladstone on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Susan Diol, as Audrey (“The Nose Job”)

On Seinfeld: Audrey’s one and only flaw: her nose, at least according to George.

Since: An accomplished character actress, Diol’s recurring roles include Beth Calavicci (the first wife of Albert Calavicci, played by Dean Stockwell) on Quantum Leap and Dr. Danara Pel (a Vidiian who suffered from the Phage, a disease that nearly wiped out the entire race) on Star Trek: Voyager. Her last role was in 2009, on an episode of Cold Case. She was married to former-pop star Shaun Cassidy from 1995-2003, and is now with Andy Cadiff, a well-known sitcom director who also helmed 1997’s Leave It to Beaver.

Teri Austin, as Ava (“The Stranded”)

On Seinfeld: For some reason, the beautiful Ava starts coming on to George, her co-worker, at a party he attended with Elaine and Jerry, and she even admits that she wants to make love to him. His response: “I long for you.” The two leave the party, leaving Jerry and Elaine behind. (Austin made her first appearance on Seinfeld in season two’s “The Revenge.”)

Since: Best known as Jill Bennett from Knots Landing (a role that put her on the cover of TV Guide), Austin wracked up numerous guest appearances in the 1990s before shifting her focus to The Amanda Foundation, which provides free spray-neuter service to pet owners who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise. Her goal is to reduce the number of animals that are put to sleep every year. On July 14, the foundation is holding a benefit called “A Night of True Blood Music” with a special appearance by Kristin Bauer van Straten, who plays Pam on True Blood and will later appear on Seinfeld.

Barbara Stock, as Scam Woman (“The Subway”)

On Seinfeld: George meets a woman on the subway, and she takes him to her hotel. When she takes out the handcuffs, a near-naked George thinks he’s in store for something kinky, but she instead robs him, taking $8 from his wallet and his $350 suit from Moe Ginsburg.

Since: Stock, who had previously found fame as Susan Silverman on Spenser: For Hire, would make a few small appearances on shows like Touched by an Angel and Baywatch before retiring from acting in 2001. Her last role: Susan in The Princess and the Marine.

Elizabeth Morehead, as Noel (“The Pez Dispenser”)

On Seinfeld: The pianist whose concert is interrupted by Elaine’s Pez-inflicted laughter.

Since: Outside of a seven-episode role on Flipper between 1996-1998 and a starring role as Karen Blank on Teen NBC’s One World, which lasted from 1998-2001, Morehead has mostly stayed under the radar, with her most recent appearance dating back to 2008, playing Maggie Cooper in The Reflecting Pool. She did have a role in the third Terminator film, however, as Roadhouse Clubber #1. She is also an acclaimed theatre actress.

Maggie Wheeler, as Cynthia (“The Fix-Up”)

On Seinfeld: George and Cynthia have sex in his kitchen, and afterwards, George realizes that the condom Kramer gave him (courtesy of Bob Sacamano, naturally) is defective. Cynthia doesn’t get her period on time, and George becomes ecstatic that his boys can swim. He’s later crushed when she does, meaning she’s not pregnant.

Since: “Hellllllooooo.” Two years after “The Fix-Up,” Wheeler got the role she’s known for today: as Chandler’s on-again, off-again girlfriend Janice on Friends. She appeared in only 19 episodes of the show, but like Puddy, the character became a pop culture sensation. Her other non-Janice work includes playing Patricia Heaton’s friend, Linda, on Everybody Loves Raymond and Trinette on Archer.

Ann Talman, as Robin (“The Good Samaritan”)

On Seinfeld: Robin is married to Michael, but after she sneezes and George says, “God bless you,” and her husband says nothing, she begins to have an affair with George. (Talman would later play an uncredited woman in an exercise video in season four’s “The Trip (Part One).”

Since: In the years since Seinfeld, Talman has become a respected theatre actress, appearing in multiple plays, including The Women and Some Americans Abroad. She is a member of The New Group and Ensemble Studio Theatre.

Heidi Swedberg, as Susan Ross (“The Pitch”)

On Seinfeld: George’s girlfriend, then ex-girlfriend, then girlfriend, then ex-girlfriend, then wife, then ex-wife, when she dies from licking toxic glue on the envelopes of the wedding invitations she’s sending out. In total, Susan appears on Seinfeld 28 times and is the only long-lasting partner of any of the characters, with the possible exception of Elaine and Puddy.

Since: Swedberg continues to act — including recent appearances on Wizards of Waverly Place and Hawthorne — but she’s also a musician, playing the ukulele and fronting the popular kid’s group, Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band. They released their first album, Play!, in 2009. She lives in Los Angeles, isn’t dead, and for some reason, when you Google her name, the first option that comes up is “Heidi Swedberg Feet.”

Maggie Han, as Cheryl (“The Visa”)

On Seinfeld: Jerry has dinner with Cheryl and George, who asks Jerry to not be funny. Jerry fakes a humorless personality, which Cheryl finds appealing.

Since: Before Seinfeld, Han was a reporter for the Harvard Crimson and a model for L’eggs. After Seinfeld, she appeared as a lab assistant in Junior and in an episode of Murder, She Wrote. That role, her last according to IMDb, was in 1996.

Kari Coleman, as Allison (“The Outing”)

On Seinfeld: George needs a reason to break up with Allison, so he decides to “act gay” with Jerry.

Since: Fans of Veronica Mars will recognize Coleman as Deborah Hauser, the health teacher at Neptune High School. Coleman also appeared on Glee as Becky’s mother, Donna, in the “Funeral” episode and will soon be seen as Suzy on Wilfred. In 1998, she also had a starring role in T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous, one of the first actually entertaining IMAX films. She recently contributed to Swift, the newsletter for the James Randi Educational Foundation, an “educational resource on the paranormal, pseudoscientific, and the supernatural.” Coleman considers herself a psychic.

Megan Mullally, as Betsy (“The Implant”)

On Seinfeld: George tags along with Betsy to Detroit for her aunt’s wake, and he tries to get the death certificate to receive a discount on airfare. At the reception, he meets Betsy’s brother, Timmy, who accuses George of a terrible sin: double dipping.

Since: “The Implant” is usually referred to as The Teri Hatcher Episode (“They’re real, and they’re spectacular”), but it’s the other girlfriend who’s had an equally impressive career. In 1998, Mullally began her role as Karen Walker on Will & Grace, a character she would play for eight seasons and 187 episodes. She had her own talk show in 2006-2007, took over for Jane Lynch on Party Down, and has cemented her place in comedy history by appearing as Tammy on Parks and Recreation. She is adorably married to her Parks co-star, Nick Offerman.

Lisa Edelstein, as Karen (“The Mango” and “The Masseuse”)

On Seinfeld: George worries about pleasing her in bed, so much so that he’s suffering from erectile dysfunction, until he eats one of Kramer’s mangoes. (That is not a double entendre.) Karen returns in “The Masseuse,” only to be overshadowed, at least in George’s eyes, by Jerry’s girlfriend, Jodi (Jennifer Coolidge), who won’t give Jerry a massage and doesn’t like George.

Since: Edelstein’s first post-Seinfeld role was on The Larry Sanders Show (as Diane French in “The Mr. Sharon Stone Show”) and her career has continued to increase since. She played Bobbi Bernstein on Sports Night, Brittany Rollins (Rob Lowe’s call-girl) on The West Wing, Cindy McCauliff on Ally McBeal, and, most recently and famously, Dr. Cuddy on House. She also voiced Sharri Rothberg, the woman Roger almost marries to get a blender, on American Dad! In June, it was announced Edelstein left House and will join the cast of The Good Wife for the show’s third season.

Carissa Channing, as Sylvia (“The Cigar Store Indian”)

On Seinfeld: George brings Sylvia over to what she believes to be his house, but is actually his parent’s (“You don't see many guys your age who keep baby pictures of themselves around”).

Since: You have to wonder if Larry and Jerry were impressed by Channing’s role in Frankenhooker when they cast her as Sylvia. She only appeared in two other roles after “The Cigar Store Indian”: as Shelly in an episode of The Second Half and as the voice of “Oosik” and “Vanilla Sundae” for Ace Ventura: The Video Game. How did she get such a gig? Her husband is Jeffrey Steefel, who created the game, along with Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (yes, it exists, and it was released 14 years after the film) and The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of the Angmar.

Jana Marie Hupp, as Sasha (“The Conversion”)

On Seinfeld: The only way Sasha can date George is if he converts to Latvian Orthodox.

Since: Hupp’s most recognizable role is Nancy, the wife of Ed’s best friend on Ed. Other career highlights include playing Mindy in an episode of Friends (“The One with Barry and Mindy’s Wedding”) and a USO girl who danced with John Turturro in Barton Fink.

Rosalind Allen, as Diane (“The Marine Biologist”)

On Seinfeld: In an attempt to do something good for his buddy, Jerry tells college friend Diane that George works as a marine biologist, which eventually leads to, “The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to return soup to a deli.”

Since: Allen played Dr. Wendy Smith on seaQuest DSV, and before that, Bobbi in Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. Her last role was on Titus, back in 2002. She is currently the theatre arts director and a teacher at Oaks Christian School in California, where’s she been employed since 2000.

Karla Tamburrelli, as Daphne (“The Stand-In”)

On Seinfeld: To prove a point about commitment, instead of breaking up with Daphne, George decides to stay with her for as long as possible. Maybe even marry her, if that’s what it comes down to. She leaves him, much to George’s relief.

Since: Three years before “The Stand-In,” Tamburrelli played Daniel Stern’s wife in City Slickers, and in the years following, she padded her resume with roles on Friends (in “The One with the Fake Monica”), The Big Easy (as Darlene Broussard), and Working (as a receptionist, her last role). Tamburrelli was also in the Pulp Fiction spoof, Plump Fiction; she played Sister Ruth, who delivers the fantastic line, “You couldn’t table-dance your way out of a paper bag.”

Melanie Chartoff, as Robin (“The Fire”)

On Seinfeld: When a fire begins at the birthday party of Robin’s young son, Jerry, George panics and pushes women, children, and grandmas out of his way so he can escape the house first. She gives him another change to right his wrong, and he does the same thing again, this time with a prop gun.

Since: Larry David knew Chartoff from their time together on the short-lived Fridays, which is likely how she landed the role of Robin. But Chartoff’s non-Larry David career is quite impressive, too, including voicing Didi Pickles on Rugrats and appearing as Principal Musso on Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. She’s also accomplished something no other Seinfeld actor or actress has: she helped invent something, specifically the Gray Water Recycling System, a device that allowed the reuse of shower and sink water. Chartoff has written humor columns for The Huffington Post and The Jewish Journal, and in 2007, she wrote and starred in Taught 2 Dance, a “silly, bittersweet tale of being born a performer and growing up to become a real person,” according to the show’s description. She also teaches acting, voice acting, and improvisational classes here.

Melora Walters, as Jane (“The Hamptons”)

On Seinfeld: Jerry and Kramer see Jane topless before George does, and she leaves the Hamptons when Jerry’s girlfriend, Rachel, tells her about George’s shrinkage problem.

Since: Walters is a personal favorite of Paul Thomas Anderson, having appeared in three of his films: Hard Eight (as a prostitute), Boogie Nights (as porn star Jessie St. Vincent), and Magnolia (as cocaine addict Claudia Wilson Gator). When she wasn’t working with PTA, she was playing fan-of-poison Wanda Henrickson on HBO’s Big Love and Andrea in The Butterfly Effect. She’s also an established painter, having studied art at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute.

Dedee Pfeiffer, as Victoria (“The Opposite”)

On Seinfeld: “My name is George. I’m unemployed and live with my parents.”

Since: Even living in the shadow of her sister, Michelle, younger sister Dedee has carved out an impressive career herself. Pfeiffer played Cybill Shepherd’s daughter, Rachel, on Cybill, and starred as Sheri Winston on The WB’s For Your Love. She can soon be seen in Based on True Events (its working title was L.A., I Hate You), starring Malcolm McDowell. Vamp, a fine cult classic starring Pfeiffer and Grace Jones, will be released on Blu-Ray later this year.

Josh Kurp never dated George Costanza.

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  • jfruh

    I'm always curious about people who have bit parts on a very high-profile show and then don't really work much afterwards. Do they end up getting regular jobs? Do people at the office occasionally say, "Hey, I know you! You had sex with George Costanza!"

    • Joshua Kurp

      @jfruh But what an amazing backhanded compliment that would be.

  • aha2010
  • kiara ink

    Impressive list. One quibble: Susan and George were never married. She died from the glue before they were wed.

  • Chris.@twitter

    Way back when (2008!) I created a list of Costanza's most attractive lady friends. I say lady friends because really, did George ever really have a "girlfriend?

    http://thepopcorntrick.blogspot.com/2008/10/george-costanzas-top-10-ladies.html

  • Kramer's Apartment

    We actually compiled a complete list of all 47 women that George dates throughout the series. We added a star rating system in the hopes to determine the public's favorite!

    http://kramersapartment.com/characters/george-costanzas-girlfriends/