Top 20 Pre-Fame Celebrity Appearances On Seinfeld

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Top 20 Pre-Fame Celebrity Appearances On Seinfeld

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dai
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 20 Pre Fame Celebrity Appearances On Seinfeld. For this list, we'll be looking at actors who made guest spots on the famed sitcom Seinfeld before they had their big break. This means we won't be including celebrities who were already known from other TV and film appearances. As much as we loved seeing Courteney Cox as Jerry's girlfriend Meryl, she was already established as Lauren Miller on “Family Ties.” Our countdown includes Jon Favreau as Eric the Clown, Debra Messing as Beth Lukner, Bob Odenkirk as Ben, Sarah Silverman as Emily, and more!
Transcript

#20: Jennifer Coolidge as Jodi

"The Masseuse"

Before she was Stifler’s mom or doing the “bend and snap,” Coolidge began her career in several small voice acting and television roles. “Seinfeld” was actually Coolidge’s first television appearance, as she plays a masseuse who is dating Jerry. With a long string of romantic partners, the comedian always found some amusingly shallow reason to end the relationship. In Jodi’s case, George obsesses over why she doesn’t like him, while Jerry keeps dropping less-than-subtle hints that he wants a massage from her. Needless to say, Coolidge wasn’t around for the long haul!

#19: Lauren Graham as Valerie

"The Millennium"

Leading up to her starring role on “Gilmore Girls,” Lauren Graham had plenty of small turns on a variety of NBC shows. ​​In 1997, the coffee-drinking fast-talker who we know as Lorelai Gilmore was another one of Jerry’s love interests. Taking on the part of Valerie, Graham’s on-screen quirk was that she constantly rearranged people on her “speed dial.” After a particularly bad date, Jerry begins to obsess over his lowly position on Valerie’s telephone list. His fixation on the ranking soon leads to an uncomfortable battle with Valerie’s stepmother for the number one spot.

#18: Maggie Wheeler as Cynthia


"The Fix-Up"

We almost didn’t recognize Janice without her trademark earsplitting voice! Two years before she first debuted as Chandler’s insufferable girlfriend on “Friends,” Maggie Wheeler played Elaine’s friend Cynthia. In the episode “The Fix-Up”, Elaine and Jerry conspire to set up Cynthia and George when the two complain about being single. Even after finding out that George is unemployed and balding, Cynthia agrees to see him. To everyone’s surprise, their relationship blossoms after a pregnancy scare brings out Costanza’s noble side. Unfortunately, in classic “Seinfeld” fashion, Cynthia seems to rethink her decision when she sees George’s terrible table manners.

#17: Peter Krause as Tim

"The Limo"

Even with leading roles in shows such as “Six Feet Under,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” and “Parenthood,” Krause made his mark on “Seinfeld” as a somewhat sinister character. When Jerry and George decide to impersonate a man named O’Brien in order to take a limo from the airport, they are led to believe they’re being taken to see the Knicks play at Madison Square Garden. Instead, they’re surprised when two new passengers get into the car. Tim and Eva are big fans of O’Brien, who turns out is the leader of a Neo-Nazi union. Despite his few lines, Krause brings an unnerving energy to this hilarious, yet uncomfortable, scene.

#16: Lisa Edelstein as Karen

“The Mango” & “The Masseuse”

Appearing in two episodes as George’s girlfriend, Edelstein’s Karen was more than another one of his fleeting, failed relationships. George even comes to the conclusion that he loves her. Why? Because he will clean his bathtub before she comes over, of course. However, when George constantly talks about how Jerry’s girlfriend, Jodi, doesn’t like him, Karen provides an ultimatum - her or Jodi. Not surprisingly, George chooses the latter. As for Edelstein, she would become Dr. Lisa Cuddy on seven seasons of “House.” Not too shabby!

#15: Bob Odenkirk as Ben


“The Abstinence”

As a writer for “Saturday Night Live” in the late eighties and early nineties, as well as the co-creator of “Mr. Show with Bob and David”, Odenkirk surely knows his comedy. Before he was the confident and cunning Saul Goodman, this early stint saw a young Bob Odenkirk as a Elaine’s boyfriend, a bumbling, incompetent medical student. In this 1996 episode, Elaine seems to be more attracted to the fact that Ben is almost a doctor. She brags about this in spite of the fact that he failed his medical exam three times. She gets a taste of reality when someone collapses at the diner, and Ben is completely useless. Luckily, Odenkirk is a more than capable comedian!

#14: Brad Garrett as Tony

“The Bottle Deposit”

With animated shows such as “Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling” under his belt, Brad Garrett was mostly known for his voice work early in his career. But, in this 1996 episode, Garrett made his mark as a mechanic obsessed with Jerry’s Saab. The actor’s natural deep voice and imposing figure made him a perfect fit for this slightly menacing character. He’s deeply frustrated by Jerry’s neglect of the car and takes matters into his own hands. In the same year that he appeared on “Seinfeld”, Garrett started his nine year run on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Talk about a sitcom success story!

#13: Mariska Hargitay as Melissa Shannon

“The Pilot”

With a range of television appearances in the 80s and 90s, it’s no surprise that the tough Olivia Benson also made her way into the “Seinfeld” universe. By the end of the fourth season, Jerry and George finally get the green light from NBC to film the pilot for their “show about nothing”. As the two start auditioning actors, the lovely Melissa Shannon reads for the part of Elaine. When she makes a few funny remarks at George’s expense, he cuts her audition short. Even though Elena Wohl’s character gets the part in the end, we wish we got a bit more of Melissa in this episode. Thanks a lot George!

#12: Peter Dinklage as James’ Telephone Voice

“The Wink”

You’d be forgiven if you didn’t initially catch this actor’s contribution to “Seinfeld” in the first minute of the episode “The Wink”. Years before he was known as Tyrion Lannister, Dinklage had an uncredited role as the voice of Elaine’s wake-up caller, James. However, when Elaine decides to meet James in person, he’s played by Brian McNamara. Dinklage’s deep and captivating voice was essential to the premise of the episode, though. In the same year as this season 7 cameo, Dinklage made his film debut in the dark comedy “Living in Oblivion.” The rest, as they say, is history.

#11: Michael Chiklis as Steve Pocatello

“The Stranded”

Given his hard-hitting performance as Detective Vic Mackey on “The Shield,” it’s hard to imagine Michael Chiklis in a comedic role – or with hair for that matter. Chiklis gave an outrageous performance on “Seinfeld,” however, as Steve Pocatello. After hosting Jerry at a party, Steve takes Seinfeld up on his offer to stop by his apartment when in New York, making himself right at home when he gets there by ordering up a prostitute. Jerry not only has to pay for the pretty woman’s services, but also pays an even heftier price when the cops show up. Suddenly, Kramer starts to seem like an ideal houseguest by comparison.

#10: Sarah Silverman as Emily

“The Money”

Following up her short stint on “Saturday Night Live,” Sarah Silverman landed a guest role as Kramer’s girlfriend, Emily. While the sex is pretty all right, Emily gets just a little too clingy for Kramer’s taste when spending the night. Fed up with her Jimmy legs, Kramer manages to convince Emily that they’d be better off sleeping alone. When Kramer becomes paranoid that somebody’s breaking into his apartment, though, he starts to desire somebody to cuddle with at night. Alas, Emily has also flip-flopped. Fortunately, they find the solution in a set of separate beds.

#9: Jeremy Piven as Michael Barth (George)

“The Pilot”

If you go back and watch this classic “Seinfeld” episode, you might not even recognize Jeremy Piven. As Michael Barth, Piven plays an actor who auditions to play George in the “Seinfeld” show within a show. Sporting a balding head, glasses, and a dumpy persona, he seems like a dead ringer for George, even if the real George can’t see the resemblance. Evidence of Piven’s commitment to character is seen already in this early role, and was fleshed out completely in the career-defining character of Ari Gold in “Entourage.” Of course Ari has a much fouler mouth on him.

#8: Denise Richards as Molly Dalrymple

“The Shoes”

She may’ve only appeared on-screen for a couple minutes, but this brief appearance on “Seinfeld” may be one of Denise Richards’ most memorable roles. As the daughter of an NBC executive overseeing Jerry’s pilot, she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time for George, who can’t help but sneak an extended peak when the fifteen-year-old displays her cleavage. For the record, Richards was 22 at the time. The hapless George is caught in the act as Bob Balaban delivers one of the show’s most hilarious lines. George got a good look and he probably got an even better look if he ever saw “Wild Things.”

#7: Debra Messing as Beth Lukner

“The Wait Out” and “The Yada Yada”

If you’re a fan of “Will & Grace,” you’ll be happy to know that Megan Mullally wasn’t the only cast member to land on “Seinfeld”. And while Jerry dated an assortment of actresses that would eventually become household names, Debra Messing proved to be one of the most memorable objects of his affection as Beth. Although she’s originally spoken for, Jerry eagerly waits for Beth’s marriage to crumble so he can score a date. It takes a couple of episodes, but Jerry finally gets an opening to ask Beth out. At first, they seem to be a match made in heaven, both being anti-dentites and all. Jerry begins to second-guess their relationship, however, upon realizing Beth is also a racist and anti-Semite. Whoa, did that really come out of Grace Adler’s mouth?

#6: Kristin Davis as Jenna

“The Pothole” and “The Butter Shave”

Kristin Davis went on to have intercourse with lots of men in “Sex and the City.” Even before getting her big break as Charlotte York, though, Davis was no stranger to putting unsanitary objects in her mouth – hi-yo! In the “Seinfeld” episode “The Pothole,” Davis plays Jenna, the latest in a long line of Jerry’s girlfriends. Jerry dooms their relationship upon dropping her toothbrush in the toilet and retrieving it. Jenna then proceeds to obliviously brush her teeth. While they make up after the incident, Jerry can’t bring himself to stay with a woman he’s seen covered in toilet water. Jenna will have to settle for Bania.

#5: Jane Leeves as Marla

“The Virgin”

As one of Jerry’s more memorable girlfriends, Marla was an English closet designer who also happened to be a virgin. In season four, she’s subjected to the group’s strange antics when she finds out about their “contest” of self-denial and dumps Jerry on the spot. Luckily for her, when John F. Kennedy Jr. comes to see Elaine, he arrives just in time to comfort Marla and sweep her off her feet. Like some other stars on this list, Jane Leeves landed her best-known role on another sitcom shortly after this “Seinfeld” guest spot. As the eccentric Daphne Moon, Levees became a fixture on a little show titled “Frasier.”

#4: Teri Hatcher as Sidra Holland

“The Implant”

Even with eight seasons on “Desperate Housewives” under her belt, Teri Hatcher will always be best remembered for her unforgettable appearance on “Seinfeld” as Sidra. Jerry is immediately drawn to Sidra’s natural beauty, until he finds out that her breasts may not be all that natural. Just when Jerry is about to uncover the truth firsthand, bad timing gets in the way as usual. Before walking out on Jerry, however, Sidra lets him know what he’s missing. That’s got to be among the show’s most quotable lines, which was partially ad-libbed by Hatcher. And it comes back when you least expect it…

#3: Patrick Warburton as David Puddy

Various episodes

Yeah, that’s right. Even though he only appeared in 10 episodes, this actor made a lasting impact as Elaine’s on-and-off-again boyfriend, Puddy. From his face painting to his constant high-fives, this is one recurring character we won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Warburton’s baritone, monotonous voice made his character’s quirks even more hilarious. Puddy’s weird habits deeply frustrate Elaine to no end, but she simply couldn’t stay away from him. Since “Seinfeld”, you might recognize Warburton for his many voice acting roles, such as Joe Swanson on “Family Guy” and Kronk in “The Emperor’s New Groove”!

#2: Jon Favreau as Eric the Clown

“The Fire”

Before directing box office hits like “Elf” and “Iron Man,” Jon Favreau was primarily known for being a character actor. One of Favreau’s earliest acting gigs was as Eric, a clown hidden under a rainbow wig and makeup. Despite his profession, Eric isn’t especially fun-loving or friendly. He doesn’t even know who Bozo is, much to the shock of George. Even if Eric doesn’t make the kids laugh until they drop dead, though, he does save their lives when he puts out a fire with his clown shoes. George on the other hand, isn’t quite as calm in a crisis.

#1: Bryan Cranston as Dr. Tim Whatley

Various episodes

From Hal Wilkerson to Walter White, Bryan Cranston has hit it out of the park with one great character after another. Interestingly, other “Breaking Bad” stars have made guest appearances on “Seinfeld,” such as Anna Gunn and the aforementioned Bob Odenkirk One notable role that helped launch Cranston to mainstream popularity was Tim Whatley. Whether making out with Elaine, having kinky sex in his office, or converting to Judaism for the jokes, it was always fun when this dentist popped up. This can be attributed to both Cranston’s performance and the “Seinfeld” writers’ ability to squeeze grade-A material out of even the most minor characters.
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