You made him sandwiches in the middle of the night. You took away his manhood.
August 26, 2010 7:33 AM   Subscribe

My assignment for the day was to photograph Jerry Stiller in front of The Costanza House in Astoria, Queens. As we pulled up to the house he decided to ring the doorbell not knowing if anyone would answer. Story from the Daily News.
posted by thisisdrew (34 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
"This is the happiest day of my life. You really made my day," 84-year-old Bessie said.
posted by msconduct at 7:38 AM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It would have been cuter if the couple had no idea who he was, or what Seinfeld was. Either cute or just plain mean
posted by wheelieman at 7:39 AM on August 26, 2010


Why did they use a real house for that? Too expensive to maintain an infrequently-used set?
posted by DU at 7:39 AM on August 26, 2010


I hate to contradict Mr. Stiller - who has given my wife and I so much pleasure over the years. But Estelle Costanza was not a good cook. Thus spake Frank:

[Your dry omelette] sucks. Your meatloaf is mushy, your salmon croquettes are oily, and your eggplant Parmesan is a disgrace to this house.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:41 AM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


On his way back to Manhattan, Stiller seemed just as thrilled by the experience.

"This is probably the best thing I ever did in my life," he said.


Someone better tell Ben not to read this story.
posted by spicynuts at 7:41 AM on August 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


But Estelle Costanza was not a good cook.

I read that as he was referring to the actress who played her.
posted by spicynuts at 7:42 AM on August 26, 2010



Why did they use a real house for that? Too expensive to maintain an infrequently-used set?


RTFA...it was only used for exterior shots.
posted by spicynuts at 7:42 AM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I did RTFA but I guess I missed that part.

Miller and Meara on What's My Line.
posted by DU at 7:43 AM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read that as he was referring to the actress who played her.

It's possible that he meant Estelle Harris. But since Estelle Costanza does make paella in one episode, I don't think so.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:46 AM on August 26, 2010


And the article does specify "referring to Costanza's wife". But it's the Daily News - so no one could blame you for not trusting their reporting.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:53 AM on August 26, 2010


That was very sweet. It's the sort of thing I would be terrified to do -- just knock at a stranger's door, even if you've sort of got an in. But there is some power to it.

I recall reading about when Lux Interior and Poison Ivy from The Cramps started going out, instead of dates they would go around to houses and knock at the doors and explain they were looking to buy old records, and they would ask if the people in the house had any they wanted to sell -- especially real oddities. They were amazed by the number of people who invited them in and how gracious and friendly they were.

Perhaps I should consider something like that. It's always useful to do something that terrifies you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:57 AM on August 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


I read that Bruce Springsteen, circa The River, met a fan on the street and then accepted their invitation to go to their house and meet their mother. The Boss described the fan entering the house and shouting, "Mom, I've got Bruce Springsteen here."

That must have been fun for all concerned.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:03 AM on August 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


There's two similar stories I know. The first is about Mr. Rogers:

Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS exec’s house, he heard the limo driver was going to wait outside for 2 hours, so he insisted the driver come in and join them (which flustered the host). On the way back, Rogers sat up front, and when he learned that they were passing the driver’s home on the way, he asked if they could stop in to meet his family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life—the house supposedly lit up when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano and bantered with them late into the night. Further, like with the reporters, Rogers sent him notes and kept in touch with the driver for the rest of his life.

The second is about Humphrey Bogart:

One story has Bogart losing his way home after an all-night drinking session. Finding himself in an unfamiliar Hollywood suburb as dawn rose, he spied a woman cooking breakfast in a house and peered in through the window.

"My God," she cried out to her husband. "It's Humphrey Bogart!"

"What about him?" her husband shouted back.

"He's in our front yard." "Well, invite him in." Bogart sat down for breakfast with the couple and their children, wolfing down bacon and eggs while mesmerising them with tales of Hollywood.

When he'd finished he stood up, said thank you politely and then walked out the way he'd come in.


They're very different stories, but I like them both about equally.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:37 AM on August 26, 2010 [41 favorites]


A few years ago my wife, son and I went to Ireland with my mom to see where she grew up. We walked down a street (Strand St. in Tralee, for those playing at home) and stood in front of her childhood home. It took a bit of nerve but we eventually knocked on the door only to find nobody was home. She then decided to knock on the neighbor's door.

My mom hadn't lived there since probably the early 1950s but an old man answered the door and said "You're [my mom's name]!" He still recognized her after 60 years or so, even though she was probably at most 20 when he last saw her. He then invited us in for an awkward fifteen minutes in his tiny little house and back to his garden where we could catch a glimpse of the back of my mom's house.

It was very strange, meeting an old man and his wife in another country and having them invite us inside their home, not out of some sense of obligation, but because welcoming people is just sort of what you do.

We also walked around her elementary school, which kind of made my head explode.
posted by bondcliff at 8:38 AM on August 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I hate to contradict Mr. Stiller - who has given my wife and I so much pleasure over the years. But Estelle Costanza was not a good cook. Thus spake Frank:

[Your dry omelette] sucks. Your meatloaf is mushy, your salmon croquettes are oily, and your eggplant Parmesan is a disgrace to this house.


Seems to me it's possible that Frank Costanza would, in a fit of vein-popping rage, unfairly say this even if his wife had been making him uniformly delicious meals their entire married life.
posted by aught at 8:50 AM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


We also walked around her elementary school, which kind of made my head explode.

I drove across (part of) the country last year with my then-10 year old and on the way back stopped at MY childhood home and elementary school. The school was unchanged. The house was for sale, was radically altered and had an abandoned RV in the back. I wish I hadn't seen it.
posted by DU at 8:52 AM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Miller and Meara on What's My Line.

At one point in this clip, Miller mentions their son "Benjy".
posted by DU at 8:53 AM on August 26, 2010


Well, they should count themselves lucky the visit was in August. Later in the year, it would've been nothing but Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength.

"I got a lot of problems with you people! And now, you're gonna hear about it. You, Kruger. My son tells me your company stinks! You couldn't smooth a silk sheet if you had a hot date with a babe...I lost my train of thought."
posted by gompa at 8:55 AM on August 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


My father subjected us to this on a family trip to England quite a few years back. He was deeply engrossed in genealogy at the time and discovered that part of his mother's family was from this tiny hamlet in Shropshire. So, on the way out to wherever we were headed, we took a detour. He found the correct house, and we all (mother, brother, and myself) stood at the doorstep while my father rang the doorbell. A little old lady answered the door.

"Hello, um, my ancestors used to own this house. Could we come in?"

She was very hospitable. And, as it turns out, a distant cousin of my father's did the exact same thing just a few months before.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:58 AM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've invited someone in due to the way he looked at my house. I happened to look out the window and see someone staring trying to see in the windows from the street out in front. The look on the man's face told it all; there could be no other explanation than he was looking at his childhood home. I opened the front door to ask him what was up and we talked for about an hour after taking the 'grand' tour.

People are almost always interesting and kind when you get to know them.
posted by readery at 9:11 AM on August 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Whenever I go to the DC area, I always visit the house we grew up in- never going in, just standing outside and staring, posing for pictures. Of course, in this internet age, you don't have to leave your chair to see old properties- there's GoogleMaps street view, and you might even find a listing if the house is for sale (or lease in this case, unless they're really selling it for $2850, in which case I might be tempted to buy it).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:15 AM on August 26, 2010


I wanted to be embarrassed for the old man being filmed in his undershirt (and the lady in pajama bottoms) but they were obviously having such a wonderful time I can't seem to muster any disapproval. If they didn't care, I guess I don't either.
posted by Gator at 9:35 AM on August 26, 2010


Here's Christopher Walken revisiting his childhood home (previously on mefi).
posted by msbrauer at 9:37 AM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Between the age of 3 and 8 my family lived on a quiet street in a suburb of Pittsburgh. When we moved away I was devastated, since it meant leaving behind my very best friends, Debbie and Ricky, who lived in a beautiful big house at the end of the street. I had spent many, many happy hours there, some of the happiest of my young life.

40+ years after our family left the area I found myself back in that neighborhood and decided to pay a call. I was nervous when I knocked on the front door. My friends' father answered, and in a perfectly reasonable, unsurprised tone of voice said, "why, it's [kinnakeet]!! Debbie and Ricky aren't here, but why don't you come in?"

I was stunned to be recognized. I was far more stunned, however, when a few steps brought me back to my childhood--the interior of the house was virtually unchanged. The pictures on the wall, the furniture, the floors, everything. Everything.

It was overpowering. I lost control. I wept. No, I sobbed.

After I collected myself my friends' mother walked in, and graciously said, "So nice to see you again! Why, you know this house. Take a look around! You're welcome to go anywhere you wish."

I wandered the house, a dazed time-traveler. It was like being given the best gift ever--a bright, clear window into my childhood. My friends' parents seemed to think it was all perfectly natural, however.

I choke up remembering that visit. Sometimes people, and life, amaze me.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:48 AM on August 26, 2010 [29 favorites]


Google Maps is great for time-travel, too. It's mesmerizing to me to "drive by" my childhood homes in Battle Creek, MI from here in the ATL.
posted by bovious at 10:33 AM on August 26, 2010


Miller and Meara on What's My Line.

At one point in this clip, Miller mentions their son "Benjy".


I didn't watch the clip, but I'm pretty sure it's Stiller.
posted by amro at 10:41 AM on August 26, 2010


I'm pretty sure Estelle was a good cook. George was carrying a good extra 30 Lbs, and even though they were sitting around the diner for years at a time, Jerry, Elaine and Kozmo seemed to stay pretty skinny.
posted by jenkinsEar at 10:55 AM on August 26, 2010


Last year some guy in a van stopped at the end of my driveway while my kids were playing in the front yard. I went out to see what he was up to; he said he used to live here, and clearly was curious about changes to the house. He seemed a little off to me, everything he'd said about the house was very general, and I didn't invite him in. But just before he drove off he told me about the time a burglar fired a gun at him, and described where the bullet hole was.

I went in to check, and sure enough there's a big groove in the floor right where he said.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:48 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Of course, in this internet age, you don't have to leave your chair to see old properties- there's GoogleMaps street view

I had never even thought to look up my childhood home on Google Maps until now.

...

No street view!

I'm pretty sure Estelle was a good cook. George was carrying a good extra 30 Lbs

No, Frank was the cook.

"I feel reborn. I'M LIKE A PHOENIX RISING FROM ARIZONA!"

Here's Christopher Walken revisiting his childhood home

The funniest thing in this article?

Walken doesn’t use a computer. “The Internet is strange,” he said. “There’s stuff on the Internet about me. I’ve tried to find out who puts it there. Something about how I go around to hot-dog festivals, that I’m a champion hot-dog eater.”

His confusion stems from an old Onion article that has since been removed.

The parody was stolen and accepted as a real Christopher Walken article by various sites: Texas-Wiener.com; Free Republic. The Texas Wiener site must have good SEO, because their stolen parody was picked up as a real article by various content farms. And so on.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:50 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I went in to check, and sure enough there's a big groove in the floor right where he said.

I'm weird and paranoid enough to wonder that if something seemed "off" about him, maybe HE was the burglar and not the former resident.
posted by elizardbits at 3:47 PM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


"SERENITY NOW!"

Love this documentary bit; Jerry really got into his character. So much so that he can still talk about Frank's motivations. The reason he felt Frank was always yelling back at Estelle is that Frank felt "threatened at all times." I tend not to think of sitcom characters as being that fleshed-out, esp. when their story arcs (is that the right term?) are relatively unchanging.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 3:48 PM on August 26, 2010


The Boss described the fan entering the house and shouting, "Mom, I've got Bruce Springsteen here."

I thought this was a story about Julianne Phillips.
posted by dhartung at 6:54 PM on August 26, 2010


First link goes to a password protected video.
posted by chairface at 8:21 AM on August 27, 2010


The video is borked, but I luvv this thread!
posted by Harald74 at 12:28 PM on August 27, 2010


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