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!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here:
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv?
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • 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.