Of all the scenes from Seinfeld’s nine-season run, perhaps none demonstrated the cast’s callous disregard for others better than the death of George’s fiancée Susan, who died after licking cheap envelopes for their wedding invitations in season 7.
Played by actress Heidi Swedberg, Susan Ross appeared in 28 episodes from 1992-1997, before her untimely death, and according to Jason Alexander, the core cast’s discomfort with her was more than scripted.
Alexander was a guest on Wednesday’s Howard Stern SiriusXM Radio Show and admitted that Swedberg’s failure to connect with the core group meant she had to go.
After Stern asked him if rumors he couldn’t stand working with Heidi were true, he first explained:”The actress is this wonderful girl, I love her. She’s a terrific girl.”
He continued: “I couldn’t figure out how to play off of her. Her instincts for doing a scene, where the comedy was, and mine, were always misfiring. She would do something, and I would go, OK, I see what she’s going to do, I’ll adjust to her. And then it would change.”
Alexander then recounted a conversation with the show’s creator, Larry David:
I had done three episodes with her and Larry calls me up at the beginning of the season, and says, ‘Good news, I got a great arc for you this season.’ I said, ‘Oh that’s great, who do I get engaged to?’ He said, ‘Susan.’ I went, ‘Oh great, who’s going to play George?’
He continued: “What he said was, what Heidi brought to the character is we could do the most horrible things to her and the audience was still on my side, and it wasn’t she was wasn’t playing a bitchy character or anything we just knew it wasn’t a good fit.”
Co-stars Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis Dreyfus (Elaine) also did not understand the problem, until they worked with her, he said.
“You know what? It’s f–king impossible!” Alexander quoted his co-stars after they worked with her.
Then, according to Alexander, it was Dreyfus who gave David an exit strategy by saying, “Don’t you wanna just kill her?”
David then said, “KA-BANG!'”
“Every time I tell this story I cringe, because Heidi is the sweetest person ever,” he concluded.
Yada yada yada, Swedberg would go on to appear in other television shows, such as Becker, Without a Trace, and Bones, but not before bowing from the show in the most Seinfeld of ways:
You can catch Susan’s untimely death, as well as all of the other neurotic Seinfeld moments streaming on Hulu, starting June 24.