During Rosie O’Donnell’s tenure co-hosting The View, she developed a reputation for not putting up with other people’s crap. O’Donnell would notably feud with Donald Trump and have many passionate arguments with her fellow The View co-hosts.
Due to O’Donnell’s reputation, people often assume the worst of her as proved by the rumors she feuded with Oprah Winfrey. In reality, O’Donnell has many Hollywood friends including Mariah Carey. Still, there are reasons to think that O’Donnell has made several of her peers angry including the rumor she stole Jerry Seinfeld’s standup material before she wasn’t cast on Seinfeld.
Did Rosie O’Donnell Almost Star In Seinfeld?
Between 1989 and 1998, nine seasons of Seinfeld aired to great success. Often considered to be one of the best sitcoms of all time, Seinfeld is so ingrained in pop culture history that it is hard to imagine the show being any different at this point.
Even though the stars of Seinfeld will forever be associated with their characters, it turns out that many of them could have been portrayed by other actors. Aside from the titular role, all three of the show’s other main characters could have been portrayed by someone else.
For the role of Cosmo Kramer, two other actors were considered, Tony Shaloub and Larry Hankin. In a meta moment, Hankin wound up playing a version of Kramer. When a season of Seinfeld revolved around Jerry and George’s TV pilot, Hankin was hired to portray the actor who worked on the fictional show as the character inspired by Kramer.
The character of George Costanza came close to being portrayed by several other actors. Some examples of performers who came close to landing that role include David Alan Grier, Larry Miller, Chris Rock, Danny DeVito, and Paul Schaffer.
When the decision was made to create the character Elaine Benes for Seinfeld’s second episode, several actors were considered for the role. According to reports, Everybody Loves Raymond’s Patricia Heaton and Megan Mullally were both in the running.
During a 2017 Howard Stern interview, Jerry Seinfeld spoke about how close Rosie O’Donnell came to playing Elaine. According to Seinfeld, he felt O’Donnell was very funny in her audition, but there was something special about Julia Louis-Dreyfus that got her the role instead.
Did Rosie O’Donnell Steal Jerry Seinfeld’s Standup Material?
After more than three decades in the public eye, Jerry Seinfeld has cemented his reputation. In some cases, that is a wonderful thing as Seinfeld is famous for his well-honed comedic skill and his years of massive success.
On the other hand, there is no denying that parts of Seinfeld’s reputation are very negative. The most obvious example of that is the fact that many people can’t forget that when Seinfeld was an adult, he began dating a young woman who was still in high school.
In between the two extremes of Seinfeld’s reputation, some things about him fall somewhere in the middle. The fact that Seinfeld is so outspoken seems to fall in this category.
For some people, the fact that Seinfeld speaks out about so-called PC culture is great and others roll their eyes. Similarly, when Seinfeld infamously refused to hug the singer Kesha, some people found the moment very cringe-inducing and others admired his refusal.
No matter if each individual loves or hates that Seinfeld is so outspoken, the fact remains that he is perfectly willing to stand up for himself.
Considering the kind of personality Seinfeld has, you’d think he’d be the one to call out Rosie O’Donnell if she stole his material. As of the time of this writing, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that Seinfeld has any ill will for O’Donnell.
Despite that, the truth of the matter is that O’Donnell did actually rip off Seinfeld’s standup material once. Instead of being called out for the joke theft, O’Donnell told on herself.
When O’Donnell appeared on The Talk in 2016, she spoke about how her entertainment career began. As O’Donnell explained, she began her comedy career by performing standup in front of her friends and did great.
“One night I did standup and all my friends came to watch me, and everybody laughed because I was making fun of one of my friends in high school, who was the audience.”
While O’Donnell learned she could make her pals laugh on her first night, she wasn’t ready to pull off comedy for strangers yet. As a result, O’Donnell had no idea what she was going to do the first time she went onstage without anyone she knew in the audience.
As O’Donnell was preparing to perform, inspiration hit her. Amazingly enough, that inspiration came in the form of standup Seinfeld had recently performed on TV before O’Donnell’s second time on stage. However, instead of trying to mimic what made Seinfeld so successful, O’Donnell says she just lifted his jokes.
“The next night was a school night, nobody I knew. So [I wondered], What am I going to talk about? Fortunately, Merv Griffin had been on that day and I saw Jerry Seinfeld. He wasn’t very known at the time. So I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s funny.’ So I go up onstage and go, ‘Hey, on the way here my car stalled, so I opened the hood. What am I looking for? An on-off switch? On, off. I’m thinking, hey …,’”
Since Seinfeld wasn’t a household name at that point, it appears nobody in the audience picked up on what O’Donnell had done. However, as O’Donnell explained on The Talk, Seinfeld had built up enough of a name for himself that she was called out once she went backstage.
“I walk offstage and all the other comics surround me like vultures. ‘Where’d you get that material?’ I’m like, Jerry Simon, he was on Merv Griffin. They go, ‘You have to write your own jokes.’ I’m like, ‘Listen, Streisand does not write her own songs.’”