Estelle Harris: Seinfeld and Toy Story star dies aged 93

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Image shows Estelle HarrisImage source, Getty Images
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Estelle Harris thrilled fans with her grating voice and quick wit in dozens of Seinfeld episodes

The US film and television actress Estelle Harris has died at the age of 93.

She was best known for playing Estelle Costanza, the mother of George Costanza in the 1990s sitcom Seinfeld.

With an iconic high-pitched voice and short-fused temper, Harris turned Costanza into a fictional mother loved by fans for her absurd insults.

The star also voiced the animated Mrs Potato Head in Toy Story 2, later returning to the role twice.

But it was on Seinfeld that Harris became a familiar face to many, appearing in dozens of the smash sitcom's episodes across five of its seasons.

Harris was introduced to viewers in 1992 as Estelle Costanza - the dominating mother of romantically insecure George Costanza.

In the show, Estelle nags her son George so excessively that he fruitlessly tries to persuade her to relocate permanently to Florida - far away from the New York City neighbourhood where the show was set.

"She is the mother that everybody loves, even though she's a pain in the neck," Harris told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1998.

Viewers "just look at her as being funny, cute and a loudmouth. But it's not how I play her. I play her with miser underneath," she said.

After Seinfeld's nine-season run ended Harris continued her career on stage and on screen in many other roles.

As well as starring as Mrs Potato Head in three Toy Story films, Harris played the recurring character of Muriel in the popular Disney sitcom The Suite Life of Zack & Cody - introducing her unique humour to a younger generation of television viewers.

Image source, Getty Images
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Harris starred in three Toy Story films as the voice of Mrs Potato Head, a speaking potato toy trained in the martial arts

Harris was born in New York City in 1928 and grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh.

She discovered her talent for comedy while starring in high school plays that "could make the audience get hysterical," she told People Magazine in 1995.

Harris briefly put her show business ambitions on hold when she got married in the early 1950s, but returned to acting once her children had grown up.

Her agent confirmed her death in in Palm Desert, California, AP news agency reported.

She is survived by three children, three grandsons, and a great grandson.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Estelle Harris with her on-screen son and husband on Seinfeld's final day of shooting in 1998