‘Seinfeld’ Featured Several Sneaky Cameos from Its Creator Larry David

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by David Hume Kennerly/ Getty Images)

Larry David is famous for playing himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm. But there was a time when he could blend into a scene. During his time as showrunner of Seinfeld, David inserted himself into several episodes of the popular sitcom. He appeared — or can be heard — in 40 episodes of Seinfeld during its 180-episode run. They make re-watching episodes of the hit NBC sitcom into a “Where’s Waldo” adventure as you notice him.

Most famously, David played the voice of George Steinbrenner, the combative and cantankerous owner of the New York Yankees. Though, there was a practical reason for that. The real Steinbrenner couldn’t act. Larry David told Rich Eisen that they invited the Yankees’ owner on Seinfeld in 1995, but “he was so bad, you couldn’t use it.”

“It was much better from behind with my voice than actually seeing the real guy,” David laughed.

He also appeared in an episode as Frank Costanza’s lawyer. A man who doesn’t conform to traditional fashion trends by wearing a cape. The character goes unnamed in the episode, but it’s hard to forget the superhero moment near the end (spoiler alert).

Those are the obvious ones. But you probably missed the dozens of other times he was on the show. He sells a regal-looking George Costanza a stick of gum in “The Gum,” and he shows up in the background as an extra in “The Trip,” the fourth-season episode where Los Angeles police believe Kramer is the “Jigsaw Killer.”

Sharp-eared listeners can hear his voice throughout the series in some of the most iconic scenes. He’s the man who yells out “Is anybody here a marine biologist?”

Larry David On How He and Jerry Seinfeld Created the Show

People often say Seinfeld is a show about nothing, but that’s not accurate. The show is about how nothing — the little mundanities of life — is everything. Those small moments are the things we all have in common. Larry David said he and Jerry Seinfeld came up with the idea for the show when they realized there was nothing like that on television. He explained to Rolling Stone that the idea for the show began in a grocery store.

“We were in a grocery store and talking about the different products on the shelves, and we were making each other laugh,” he said. “Then we both realized that this is the kind of dialogue we never really heard on television, or even movies, for that matter. So that was sort of the basis — that was just the way we communicated and the things that we talked about.”

David didn’t want to be in the show, though the character of George Costanza is famously based on him. He also put a lot of his own life into the show. Several of his own experiences ended up as episodes. For instance “The Contest,” where the characters see who can go the longest as, ahem, “master of your domain” came from real life.

Larry David had a similar contest with a friend. Which, he pointed out, that he won “handily.”