|THE SEINFELD SUNRISE LAKES PHASE 1 CONNECTION
|Exec Finds `Seinfeld' Humor
At His Parents' Sunrise Condo
July 24, 1994 |By ROBIN BENEDICK Staff Writer Sun Sentinel
SUNRISE — Seinfeld opens with comedian Jerry Seinfeld and platonic pal Elaine arriving at his parents' South Florida condo.
"God, it's so hot in here," Jerry says. "Why don't you put on the air conditioning?' "You don't need the air conditioner," his mother, Helen, replies.
The next morning, a sweaty Elaine grabs Helen's hand: "Mrs. Seinfeld, I am begging you, put the air conditioner on."
Sitting in Morty and Rose David's condo at Sunrise Lakes is like experiencing a Seinfeld episode firsthand.
As the door opens, a visitor feels a blast of hot air. Sweat beads glisten on Morty's forehead. Rose doesn't want to turn on the air conditioning.
"She won't put the a/c on," Morty says.
"No, I won't," Rose replies. "I'm always cold."
Their son, Larry David, is a creator and executive producer of the popular NBC comedy series. And the Davids are models for the characters who portray Jerry Seinfeld's parents on the popular show, which airs locally at 9 p.m. Thursdays on WTVJ-Ch. 4 and WPTV-Ch. 5. Do they mind having their lives poked fun at for millions of people to see?
Not at all. They relish the attention. They laugh at their own idiosyncracies.
They never miss a show.
"The portrayal is pretty accurate," chuckles Morty, a retired men's clothing manufacturer. "I don't get offended. It's a spoof. Some of the material could apply to many parents in Florida."
In the episode entitled The Pen, the similarities are glaring:
Both the real and TV parents live in a sprawling retirement community in South Florida. The fathers share the same first name. They are honored at a testimonial dinner for being presidents of their condo associations. The mothers are always on the phone. The condos are stuffy. The sofa beds in their spare bedrooms are uncomfortable.
The Davids bought a new sofa bed after their son vowed to never stay with them again. His back hurt after sleeping on their lumpy couch.
Now, when their son visits, usually about once a year, he stays across the street at the Hilton Hotel.
"I would have slept on the street before I would have slept on that couch again," Larry says in a telephone interview from his California home.
When he writes an episode featuring Jerry Seinfeld's parents, Larry borrows "mannerisms, quirks and attitudes" from his parents. He also names characters after relatives and neighbors of his parents, who live at Sunrise Lakes Phase I.
"There are certain things about my parents that are funny," he says. "They make me laugh and Jerry's parents on the show make people laugh."
The Davids aren't the only parents with a South Florida link to the show. Jerry Seinfeld's mother lives in Delray Beach. The parents of Jason Alexander, who plays George Costanza, live in Coconut Creek in northwest Broward.
Larry, who got his start as a stand-up comic, is the model on the show for the maddeningly neurotic George, Jerry's longtime friend.
Like George, Larry, 46, grew up in New York. He wears glasses. He dislikes ties. He is going bald.
Larry's mother doesn't like to brag about her son's accomplishments. His father, on the other hand, is effusive in his praise.
"He's won a half dozen awards," Morty says, beaming like a proud parent. He rattled them off: People's Choice, Golden Globe, Emmys, Writer's Guild and Peabody.
"Quit your bragging," Rose snaps. "My son is very private and modest. He would be embarrassed by this, Morty."
Nevertheless, both love the notoriety they get from people who learn of their Seinfeld connection.
"We don't advertise it, but our doctors and our dentist and our close friends know," Rose says. "Sometimes when we're at a restaurant or out, we'll overhear people talking about Seinfeld. We listen, but we don't say anything."
personal information. It took more than six months to persuade them to agree to an interview. They won't give their ages and they don't want their pictures taken.
.A glance around their first-floor condo, which is decked out in various shades of blue, reveals little of their Seinfeld ties.
What stands out more than Seinfeld artifacts in the two-bedroom condo are family portraits. The round, glass-top dining room table is a collage of pictures, many of them showing their older son, Kenneth, a telephone company consultant in San Diego.
The Davids lived in Brooklyn until the mid-1970s when they settled in Sunrise Lakes in west Broward. Rose worked 18 years at the School Board in New York.
Morty, who has had two open-heart surgeries, retired about a decade ago from the clothing business. Since 1987, he has been the president or vice president of the Sunrise Lakes Phase 1 condo association, which oversees about 1,150 units.
Like his counterpart on Seinfeld, Morty was honored as president of the condo association at an April 1989 dinner in Sunrise that his sons attended.
His roast lacked the fireworks of the TV version, which Larry embellished with a fight between Morty and a friend over a pen that writes upside down.
That wasn't the only episode where Larry turned to his father.
In one show entitled The Raincoats, Jerry's father tries to sell his invention, beltless trenchcoats, to a used clothing store. Morty says he practically fell out of his seat laughing when he saw the show because it reminded him of himself when he used to hawk clothes.
"Larry has used a lot of stuff from my days manufacturing clothes," his father says. "He always comes up to me, grabs my shirt and feels it. Then he asks me what fabric it is. It's hysterical."
While Morty relishes the attention, his wife shies away from it. She told her son not to use her name in the show or anything personal about her.
"I don't want anything to do with the show and I told him not to put me in it," she says. "But I still get nervous when I watch an episode he wrote. I mean, you never know what he might throw in about us."
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