Throng Thrills to ‘Seinfeld’ Star’s ‘Fairy’ Tale

By Miriam Halberstam

Published November 18, 2005, issue of November 18, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Strollers and sippy cups are not what one usually associates with the self-obsessed George Costanza of “Seinfeld.” This is, after all, the guy who, in one episode, knocked a roomful of birthday-partying children out of his way to escape a blaze. Costanza portrayer Jason Alexander, however, seems perfectly comfortable among the young and the restless.

And at the Houston Jewish Book & Arts Fair at the Houston JCC this past Sunday, the feeling seemed mutual. Dozens of excited kids, from toddlers to preteens, showed up, schlepping their parents behind them — or was it the other way around? — to hear Alexander read his children’s book, “Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy?”

Alexander said that his older son, Gabriel, was the inspiration for the book, which was published earlier this year. On the cusp of losing another tooth, Gabriel wondered if there really was a tooth fairy or if Dad and Mom were leaving money under his pillow. Torn between wanting to tell the truth and keeping the magic alive, Alexander spun a tale that did both.

In the book, fairies are real but extinct. They have vanished along with the elves, wizards and unicorns that once roamed the earth. But before departing, the tooth fairies gave loving instructions to those left behind.

Reading “with expression,” as they used to say, and with plenty of asides, Alexander made sure to show the book’s pictures — “That’s me in my fantasized hair version,” he said — and remained unruffled as parents gave out crackers and children dropped bottles on the floor, and even as one little boy wailed. (“A critic in the corner!” the author quipped.)

Alexander appeared again later that day to close out the two-week annual fair. Almost 1,000 people came out to see him perform in a show billed as a presentation about his life and career.

He opened by telling the story of the first time he was invited to speak at a Houston Jewish event. “I was expecting an audience of barely a minyan,” he said to knowing laughs. Discovering that Houston has a thriving Jewish community (40,000-plus), he went back to Los Angeles, he said, and wrote a country-flavored song called “Jews in Texas.” “Cuddle up and get your lighters ready!” he advised before launching into a ballad about having mishpucha in Abilene and celebrating Purim in Plano.

Then Alexander riffed on other authors who had appeared at the fair, and he talked about growing up as overweight Jason Greenspan in New Jersey, learning how to be funny by listening to comedy records and falling into acting.

Eventually the multitalented Alexander appeared on the Great White Way, where he won a Tony Award for his role in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.” He broke out in film as the slimy lawyer in “Pretty Woman,” and soon after started playing the loser George on a show about nothing that soon became quite something.

“Do you like to be called George?” a kid piped up earlier in the day. “I don’t mind,” Alexander answered, “but sometimes I don’t turn around, because maybe they’re calling someone who really is George.”

And one thing is for sure: Alexander is no George.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.