Jerry Stiller, father of Ben Stiller, passed away of natural causes at the ripe old age of 92. Stiller got his start on the 50s variety show circuit with his wife, Anne Meara, before going on to have an illustrious Hollywood career. But he’ll always be remembered as Frank Costanza, the ill-tempered, loud and demanding father of George on Seinfeld. To celebrate Stiller’s wonderful life, here are six of the best Frank Costanza Seinfeld episodes.
After getting George an interview as a brassiere salesman in a previous episode, Frank’s obsession with female undergarments continues when he and Kramer make a bra for men. Hilarity ensues when the two can’t decide on whether to call their creation the Bro or the Manssiere. Frank’s wife, Estelle, leaves in disgust after walking in on her husband modeling the prototype for Kramer. Kicked out of home and with no place to stay, Frank is forced to live at George’s, and the episode ends with the two in the same bed and Frank offering his son some kasha.
The Fusilli Jerry
With Frank still living at George’s, Kramer offers to drive Estelle home from an eye appointment when he accidentally ‘stops short’ with her. Frank finds out and is enraged (mainly because he invented the move), and confronts Kramer in Jerry’s apartment. The two revive their argument about the Bro/Massiere as Frank screams ‘Assman!’ and lunges at Kramer. A scuffle ensues, ending with Frank falling on the Fusilli Jerry, a statute made of pasta that penetrates his rear end.
Frank’s craziness reaches new heights when it’s revealed he invented his own holiday. Talking with Kramer, he explains that his hate for commercialism led to him create Festivus, a holiday ‘for the rest of us.’ An alternative to Christmas, where an aluminum pole replaces the traditional Christmas tree (‘I find tinsel distracting’), Festivus also involves rituals, such as ‘The Airing of Grievances’ and the ‘Feats of Strength.’ Frank gets his feelings out in the open at dinner (‘I got a lot of problems with you people!’) before challenging George to a fight (‘Stop crying and fight your father!’).
Meeting your partner’s family can be daunting, but imagine having the Costanza’s for parents. When George’s parents meet his fiancé’s parents, the Ross’, it doesn’t take long for things to go off the rails. Frank is particularly embarrassing when he attacks Susan’s dad for revealing movie spoilers, and explains how he finds it perverse that a rooster has sex with chickens and hens. Frank lets his true feelings be known during the car ride home when he complains the Ross’ didn’t serve any cake after the meal (‘Would it kill them to put out a pound cake? Something!’) and shows his pettiness when revealing he took the marble rye bread he brought as a gift. ‘They didn’t forget to put it out! It’s deliberate! Deliberate I tell you!’
The Serenity Now
One of the most quoted phrases in television history, ‘Serenity now’ still has me doubling over with laugher whenever I think of Frank screaming his motto at the top of his voice. Advised by his doctor to repeat the mantra when he’s angry as a way to alleviate stress, it’s not long before Frank begins screaming the words in frustration while throwing his arms in the air. By the end of the episode, Frank has ditched ‘Serenity now’ for ‘Hoochie Mama,’ a phrase he yells at Estelle as she tries to park her car in his makeshift office garage.
George takes an unapproved vacation leading his boss, Mr. Steinbrenner, to believe he’s been murdered. Things escalate when Steinbrenner visits George’s parents to tell them the news. As Estelle cries into a tissue, Frank looks ready to break. Gripping his knees and shaking his head, he launches a tirade at Steinbrenner, not about his missing son, but concerning the Yankees trading Jay Buhner. This is classic Frank, thinking only of himself, something he and George share in common. The best part of the episode is when Frank leaves a voicemail for Jerry: ‘Jerry, it’s Frank Costanza. Mr. Steinbrenner is here, George is dead, call me back.’