We have some sad news to report this morning. Estelle Harris, the longtime actress known for her instantly-recognizable, piercing voice, which she leant to roles including Mrs. Potato Head in the “Toy Story” franchise and George Costanza’s mother (also named Estelle) on NBC’s “Seinfeld,” has died. She was 93.
Her agent, Michael Eisenstadt, confirmed her death to USA TODAY.
The actress’ son Glen Harris told Deadline and Forbes she died Saturday evening. “Her kindness, passion, sensitivity, humor, empathy and love were practically unrivaled, and she will be terribly missed by all those who knew her,” he said.
Harris was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, but told TMZ at the time that doctors “got it all out.”
With a nasally, high-pitched voice that was instantly recognizable, Harris had more than 100 acting credits across her 45-year film and TV career. She frequently made it known that she wanted to appear as a series regular on shows, but not star in one.
Born Estelle Nussbaum in New York City on April 4, 1928, to Polish immigrant parents who owned a candy store, Harris grew up in a Pittsburgh suburb before moving back to New York and marrying her longtime husband, Sy Harris.
She spent years participating in community theater and appearing in commercials – some of her notable campaigns include Kool-Aid, Glad, SOS Pads and Cabbage Patch Kids – before her breakout role on “Seinfeld” in 1992.
Another one of Harris’ best known roles: Mrs. Potato Head in the “Toy Story” franchise, opposite Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), who died in 2017.
On Disney Channel’s “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” she played apathetic hotel housekeeper Muriel, whose catchphrase was “I’m not cleaning that up.” Harris acted and voiced several other Disney shows and films, such as “Kim Possible,” “The Proud Family,” “Sonny With a Chance,” “Phil of the Future,” “Tarzan 2” and “Brother Bear.”
Harris also made cameos on “Law & Order,” “Married … With Children,” “Night Court,” “Star Trek: Voyager,” “House of Mouse,” “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “ER” and “Futurama.”
Her most recent credit was 2019’s “Toy Story 4.”
Despite a career of often loud, over-the-top characters, Harris maintained she wasn’t as confrontational or argumentative as her onscreen persona suggested.
“I speak out, but I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings,” she told the Tribune. “We’re all in this together. We all have to face death, so the easier we can make it for one another the better.”
Our hearts and prayers go out to Estelle’s family and friends. She definitely will be missed.
Originally posted on USA Today
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