‘Seinfeld’: Why Both Jerry and George’s Fathers Were Recast

by Joe Rutland

Barney Martin and Jerry Stiller are synonymous with playing Morty Seinfeld and Frank Costanza on the classic TV show Seinfeld. Their cranky, cantankerous characters bring fans laughs long after the show left NBC’s primetime lineup. Did you know, though, that they were not the original actors for those roles? Martin would join in Season 2 while Stiller wouldn’t pop up until Season 5. Who originally played the roles and what happened?

Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld Change Dad Actors On ‘Seinfeld’

Actor Phil Bruns originally appears as Morty. John Randolph, another veteran actor, would play Frank. Both were stellar actors with lots of credits to their names. Still, Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, cocreators of the sitcom, just wanted to go in different directions. Bruns only appears in Season 1 while Randolph just had a one-episode appearance. Apparently, David and Seinfeld wanted someone to be a bit harsher in the role of Morty.

If you have spent time watching Martin play Morty, then you know he’s cranky. One episode has him visiting a doctor’s office and making a scene over his lost wallet. How could we also not mention his raincoat racket that Morty was working alongside Kramer, played by Michael Richards? These scenes are iconic ones for fans of Seinfeld. Toss in the interactions between Morty and Helen Seinfeld, played by Liz Sheridan, and you’ve got a highlight reel.

From ‘Festivus’ To ‘His Move,’ Frank Costanza Would Be One Cranky Dude

Now we come to Frank Costanza. It’s hard to believe anyone other than Stiller, a comedy legend, would be in that role. Well, Randolph was until the show made a change. The Randolph characterization was too mild for David and Seinfeld. Out he goes and enters Stiller, who was actually their first choice. But the famed comedian and actor had other priorities when first approached about a role on Seinfeld.

Where do you want to start with Frank? He brings us the miracle of “Festivus” and the airing of grievances. Frank also reminds us not to take “his move” that he uses on Estelle, his wife, played by Estelle Harris. When George, played by Jason Alexander, visits his parents, it usually ends up in a screaming match between parents. Sure, Frank will ding George on the forehead here and there.

What is so amazing is that these two characters, Morty and Frank, are beloved in the Seinfeld world. It was not looking that bright when Bruns and Randolph were around. We get more from ScreenRant. But fans of the show can just tune in and expect to see fireworks when “Dad” shows up. Either one of them.