Del Rio News Herald from Del Rio, Texas on August 16, 1998 · Page 50
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Del Rio News Herald from Del Rio, Texas · Page 50

Del Rio, Texas
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 16, 1998
Page 50
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Heroic forebears, a complex childhood, a strong marriage and motherhood put Julia Louis-Dreyfus worlds apart from the self-centered single woman that made her a sitcom star: Why My Kids Never Watched 'Seinfeld' "I WAS DOING A SCHOOL PLAY, and I had to faint," Julia Louis-Dreyfus said, referring to a moment during the fifth grade. "I don't even remember why this character in the play fainted, but I did and I got an unintentional laugh. I thought, 'Oh, that's weird. I wonder what I did that was funny.' I'd stumbled upon a little gold nugget that I picked up and put in my pocket. I discovered I really liked making people laugh." For nine seasons, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 37, made people laugh playing Elaine Benes on Seinfeld, the NBC show that became the nation's top-rated TV comedy in 1994, one year after it replaced Cheers on Thursday nights. The show brought her TV stardom, plus Emmy and Golden Globe awards. Today, with the end of the network run of Seinfeld, she has the option of starring in her own TV series, making movies or doing both—a major accomplishment for any performer. I visited Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Los Angeles, where she lives in a Spanish- style house overlooking the Pacific Ocean with her husband, the TV writer-producer Brad Hall, 40, and their two sons, Henry, 6, and Charlie, 1.1 wanted to learn what led Julia to acting and kept her going despite disappointments, and what the future held for her. I began by asking about her childhood. "My grandmother was very funny, very wry," she stated, smiling. "And my mother's very funny. There's a lot of funny in my family. There was also a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. It didn't come from a church. Although my mother took me to a Unitarian church on occasion, my values came from my family." Julia is the granddaughter of Pierre Louis-Dreyfus, a Jewish hero of the French Resistance who flew 88 combat missions for de Gaulle's Free French Air Force during World War EL Her fa- The Seinfeld gang: (l-r) Michael Richards (Kramer), Jason Alexander (George), Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis- Dreyfus (Elaine). From its debut in 1989 until its finale last spring, the snow about nothing was something extraordinary. to visit her father and his family in Westchester County, north of New York City. I asked if shuttling between the two families had been emotionally difficult for her as a young girl. a second look. When I was growing up, they did. It's not that I wasn't legitimate. I don't think anybody made me feel that way. But, in the family I lived with, I didn't have the same last name as every- ther, William, escaped Nazi-occupied France as a boy to make a new life in the U.S. Today he heads Louis Dreyfus & Cie, a commodity-arbitrage company. When Julia was a year old, her parents divorced. Her mother, Judith, married Dr. Thomas Bowles, a surgeon. They lived in Washington, D.C., where Julia was raised with two half-sisters. Her father also remarried, giving Julia two more half-sisters. As a child, on school weekends and in the summers, Julia regularly flew from Washington t was a show about four horrible, selfish, self-involved people locked in their own little world. And why is that funny? I think Seinfeld redefined sitcom. There had been nothing like it before." 7 "Oh, yes," she replied gently. "When I was 7,1 started doing that little commute, or not-so-little commute. These days there are many of these mishmash families, and people probably don't take one else. I didn't take my stepfather's name. I kept my father's name. I think people were probably perplexed, wondering, 'Why do you have a last name different from the rest of the family?' I BYDOTSON RADER COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF KATZ/GAMMA-UAISON PAGE 4 • AUGUST 16, IMS • PARADE MAGAZINE

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