Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
Curb Your Enthusiasm, American Dad, Law & Order: SVU
Currently Known For:
Those Who Can't
May 31, 1955
Most of the time, you can tell someone is from New York City based off of voice and attitude alone. It’s a bit of a stereotype for most New Yorkers, but sometimes you can end up making a career out of that. One notable New Yorker that’s made a long acting career by playing a lot of characters that you envision when you think of New Yorkers is Susie Essman. The comedienne turned actress has been on screen for more than 30 years, including one comedy series that’s been around for nearly two decades that you might be familiar with.
Essman was born in New York City on May 31, 1955, but was raised just outside of the Big Apple. It was a rather normal upbringing for Essman, who’s parents worked in the fields of medicine and education. Essman was quite the talented performer growing up, making friends and family laugh with quite a bit of ease. After attending college in Harrison, New York, Essman focused a lot of her time on performing stand-up comedy.
“I wanted to be a comedic actress, which is kind of different to being on stage, then one time I was doing stand-up, felt like the kind of thing I should have been doing for years,” she said. “Richard Pryor was my idol when I was growing up, the greatest comic that ever lived. He was everything that a comic should be. I like the people that I grew up with.”
Throughout the 1980s, Essman’s stand-up career started to garner her some notice. Like many that have gotten into comedy, Essman knew that she wanted to add acting to her resume. In what would be her first film role, Essman played a very minor role, but was part of a very big movie. Following the success of the first “Crocodile Dundee”, a second movie starring Paul Hogan as the title character was ordered. The second film was released in 1988, with Essman playing the role of a tour guide. It didn’t get Essman a lot of screen time, but it started off what has become a very long and successful career.
In the same year in which Essman had her first movie role, she also landed a starring role on the show “Baby Boom” as Charlotte Elkman. The series also starred Kate Jackson of “Charlie’s Angels” fame, though it didn’t last for long. NBC aired just eight episodes of the series’ first season, with the final five of the first season not making it to broadcast.
Afterward, Essman would have multiple guest roles on “True Colors” on television, as well as the shows “Ned and Stacey” and “Law & Order”. During the late 1970s, Essman also had her first notable film roles, appearing in both “Volcano” and “What’s Your Sign?” in 1997. Then, when the new millennium started, Essman had her breakout.
In 2000, Essman was cast as Susie Greene, the brash and brutally honest wife of Jeff Garlin’s character Jeff Greene. The role was only scheduled as a guest part, but over the years, Essman stole the scene in just about every performance and had a significant impact in many episodes. The show is still airing to this day (despite having a hiatus), and now Essman is listed on the main cast. During the show’s original run, Essman also had several guest spots on other shows that include “Law & Order” and “Dora the Explorer”.
Also in the 2000s, Essman has added some more movie roles to her resume. This includes movies such as “The Man”, “Keeping the Faith” and “Cop Out”. Most recently, Essman was on the big screen in the 2017 film “Band Aid”. On top of still being on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, Essman has been playing a role as Mrs. Lonstein on the Seth Macfarlane animated series “American Dad”. Over the past few years, Essman has added recurring roles in shows such as “Broad City”, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and is still on the cast of “Those Who Can’t”.
While her character on “Curb” might be a bit of a Jewish stereotype, Essman sees the broad appeal that her character has. “Susie is an iconic Jewish mother in her own right, but all moms are protective and feel injured when their kids don’t behave,” she said. “There are universal aspects about motherhood, and hey, about personhood. People in new York think that the only people who get the show are older Jewish people from the Upper West Side, and that’s just not true. I travel all over the world…and they love us there!”
And sometimes, if she’s in the mood, her character spills over into real life. “I’m in an interesting position because people come up to me, and I’m not always in the mood. I’m going about my life, and I don’t feel like screaming and yelling at them, but some people are so relentless that I end up gladly screaming and yelling at them, and they’re happy,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever gone too far. It seems like I don’t go far enough.”