Sometimes, our ambitions take far longer to fulfil than we could ever have expected. This was certainly the case for Jennifer Coolidge, who, following years of bit-parts and minor roles, was awarded a Golden Globe for her appearance in Mike White’s The White Lotus. Join us as we revisit Coolidge’s first TV role in a 1993 episode of Seinfeld.
Born in 1961, Coolidge grew up in a working-class family in the small town of Norwell, a short drive from Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating from Emerson College in 1985 and giving up on her clarinet lessons, she moved to Los Angeles only to enrol at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, where she spent the next few years partying at the Palladium, waitressing alongside Sandra Bullock and doing large amounts of cocaine.
“I had such big dreams as a younger person, but they get sort of fizzled by life”, Coolidge said during her Golden Globes acceptance speech. “And then you get older and … Mike White, you’ve given me a new beginning. My neighbours are speaking to me!”
Those big dreams ranged from being the “Queen of Monaco” to being a sought-after dramatic lead with occasional appearances in comedic projects. She was 32 by the time she received her first TV credit in a fifth-season episode of Seinfeld in 1993. The gag is this: she’s a talented masseuse who refuses to give a massage. Jerry is desperate for her touch, but not in the way she’d like. While she tries to sleep with him, all he’s interested in is getting her to rub his shoulders.
Seinfeld opened up a few small parts in films like s A Bucket of Blood, Plump Fiction, and A Night at the Roxbury, none of which received much critical attention. She then landed a recurring role voicing Britanny Murphy’s teacher Luanne in King of The Hill. Her big break came when she was cast as Stifler’s Mom in American Pie, at which point became the mature fantasy of pretty much every hormone-addled teenage boy in America. Her subsequent performance in Legally Blonde, however, made her a gay icon, something Mike White exploited to great effect in the “these gays, they’re trying to murder me” scene in The White Lotus.
You can check out Jennifer Coolidge in Seinfeld above.