11 Surprising Facts About Larry David

Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images for "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"
Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images for "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"

Curb Your Enthusiasm creator Larry David’s knack for creating drama out of the smallest things—and infuriating everyone around him in the process—has made him one of the most endearing voices in American comedy. Here are 11 things you might not know about the television icon.

1. Larry David and Richard Lewis met when they were kids, and hated each other.

Richard Lewis, Larry David, and Jeff Garlin in Curb Your Enthusiasm.John P. Johnson/Courtesy of HBO

Larry David and Richard Lewis aren’t just close friends on Curb Your Enthusiasm; the two met as 12-year-olds at summer camp. Just like in their fictional relationship, they didn’t always get along. "I hated his guts,” Lewis said—so much so that the two used to get into fistfights.

More than a decade later, the two met again at the bar of New York City's famed Improv comedy club, and developed a close friendship. "Talk about walking to the beat of your own drum," Lewis told The New Yorker of David. "I mean, this guy was born in a snare drum."

2. Larry David worked as a limousine driver, and for a bra wholesaler.

Before he turned to comedy, David worked a number of odd jobs to keep afloat. In addition to working as a paralegal and driving a cab, David worked at a bra wholesaler in New York. "The bras were seconds, actually," David told The New Yorker. "They were defective bras."

While David's mother pushed him to become a mailman, David ended up "driving a limo for an old lady who was half blind and had no idea that I wasn't wearing the uniform and that the car was filthy," he said at the 2011 WGA Awards. "I did that for a year, and then one night I went to the Improv, saw a bunch of comedians, and I thought, 'These people seem just like me. They're complete losers who do nothing and get up and talk about how miserable they are. Are you kidding? I can do that.'"

3. Larry David once used a coupon to pay for dinner on a date—and got caught.

One time, while on a date, David attempted to pay for dinner with a coupon while his companion was in the restroom. When his date returned to the table, the waiter was telling David that the coupon was no good, which angered the date—which, in turn, angered David. "What do you care!?" he asked. "I’m still paying for it! And now I’m paying full price!"

4. Larry David and Bernie Sanders are related.

Larry David stars in Curb Your Enthusiasm.John P. Johnson/Courtesy of HBO

David is well-known for his spot-on impression of Bernie Sanders, and it might come more naturally to him than anybody thought. While on the PBS show Finding Your Roots, both men took a DNA test. While David had hoped to find out he was related to “a great athlete,” it turns out he and Sanders are actually distant cousins.

5. As a stand-up, Larry David would walk offstage if he didn’t like the crowd.

David, who is notoriously sensitive to social situations, was known to have a cantankerous relationship with his stand-up audiences even in the earliest days of his career. One time, after walking onstage and determining he didn't like the look of the audience, he just said, “Nope”—and walked off.

6. Larry David quit Saturday Night Live—then pretended he didn't.

In 1984, David was hired as a writer on Saturday Night Live, but had trouble getting any of his ideas on the air. In a moment of frustration with producer Dick Ebersol, who kept cutting all of his sketches, David blew up and quit—only to realize what a grave mistake he had made. In an effort to keep his job, David returned to work on Monday and played his whole outburst off as if it had been a joke. Not only did it work, it also became the inspiration for a classic Seinfeld episode. Maybe living well is the best revenge.

7. Larry David was prepared to walk away from Seinfeld if they didn't let him make "The Contest."

Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld at an New York City screening of Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2009.Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

David and longtime friend Jerry Seinfeld co-created one of the most influential sitcoms of all time with Seinfeld. The series was ahead of its time with its comedy, which could sometimes lead to disagreements with the network. So when it came time to make "The Contest," the famous episode where the gang sees who can go the longest without self-gratification, David was prepared for the network to fight it.

"I remember being nervous because the NBC executives were there," David told Vulture of the first table read. "I really had this thing going on in my head where, 'Well, if they don’t like it, I’m just going to quit the show.' I really had this built up in my head where, there’s no way they’re going to do it and I’m just going to quit if they don’t do it." Clearly, he had nothing to worry about.

8. Larry David had to tell George Steinbrenner he was being cut from Seinfeld.

For years, David did the voice of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner on Seinfeld. But when the actual Steinbrenner was invited to guest star on the show, he was apparently so bad that his scenes had to be cut. And it was left up to David, a lifelong Yankees fan, to tell him. “He said, ‘I’m a big boy, I can take it,'" David said. “And he was a big boy. He took it well.”

9. Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David is an idealized version of the real Larry David.

While there are clearly many similarities between Curb Your Enthusiasm's version of Larry David and the real-life version of the comedian, David is quick to clarify that what you see on television is an idealized version of who he is in real life.

"The character really is me, but I just couldn't possibly behave like that,” David told Rolling Stone. “If I had my druthers, that would be me all the time, but you can’t do that. We’re always doing things we don’t want to do, we never say what we really feel, and so this is an idealized version of how I want to be.”

10. Larry David really, really hates the outdoors.

David and the outdoors are not on good terms. In an interview with GQ, he admitted that he hates the water, bike riding, hiking, and the beach. His only exception to the outdoor rule? Golf. “This is really the only thing I like to do outside,” he said.

11. Larry David helped clear a man who was wrongfully accused of murder.

In 2003, 24-year-old Juan Catalan was facing the death penalty for allegedly shooting a key witness in a murder case. Catalan told investigators that there was no way he could have committed the crime, as he had been at a Los Angeles Dodgers game. Ultimately, police were able to confirm his alibi because of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which was filming an episode at that very same game. It took Catalan's attorney just 20 minutes to find footage of Catalan and his daughter at the game. Five months after he was imprisoned for the crime, Catalan was cleared of any wrongdoing and released. (Long Shot, a short documentary about the case, is streaming on Netflix.)

Amazon’s Big Fall Sale Features Deals on Electronics, Kitchen Appliances, and Home Décor


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12 Surprising Facts About T.S. Eliot


Born September 26, 1888, modernist poet and playwright Thomas Stearns (T.S.) Eliot is best known for writing "The Waste Land." But the 1948 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature was also a prankster who coined a perennially popular curse word, and created the characters brought to life in the Broadway musical "Cats." In honor of Eliot’s birthday, here are a few things you might not know about the writer.

1. T.S. Eliot enjoyed holding down "real" jobs.

Throughout his life, Eliot supported himself by working as a teacher, banker, and editor. He could only write poetry in his spare time, but he preferred it that way. In a 1959 interview with The Paris Review, Eliot remarked that his banking and publishing jobs actually helped him be a better poet. “I feel quite sure that if I’d started by having independent means, if I hadn’t had to bother about earning a living and could have given all my time to poetry, it would have had a deadening influence on me,” Eliot said. “The danger, as a rule, of having nothing else to do is that one might write too much rather than concentrating and perfecting smaller amounts.”

2. One of the longest-running Broadway shows ever exists thanks to T.S. Eliot.

Getty Images

In 1939, Eliot published a book of poetry, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which included feline-focused verses he likely wrote for his godson. In stark contrast to most of Eliot's other works—which are complex and frequently nihilistic—the poems here were decidedly playful. For Eliot, there was never any tension between those two modes: “One wants to keep one’s hand in, you know, in every type of poem, serious and frivolous and proper and improper. One doesn’t want to lose one’s skill,” he explained in his Paris Review interview. A fan of Eliot's Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats since childhood, in the late '70s, Andrew Lloyd Webber decided to set many of Eliot's poems to music. The result: the massively successful stage production "Cats," which opened in London in 1981 and, after its 1982 NYC debut, became one of the longest-running Broadway shows of all time.

3. Three hours per day was his T.S. Eliot’s writing limit.

Eliot wrote poems and plays partly on a typewriter and partly with pencil and paper. But no matter what method he used, he tried to always keep a three hour writing limit. “I sometimes found at first that I wanted to go on longer, but when I looked at the stuff the next day, what I’d done after the three hours were up was never satisfactory," he explained. "It’s much better to stop and think about something else quite different.”

4. T.S. Eliot considered "Four Quartets" to be his best work.

In 1927, Eliot converted to Anglicanism and became a British citizen. His poems and plays in the 1930s and 1940s—including "Ash Wednesday," "Murder in the Cathedral," and "Four Quartets"—reveal themes of religion, faith, and divinity. He considered "Four Quartets,” a set of four poems that explored philosophy and spirituality, to be his best writing. Out of the four, the last is his favorite.

5. T.S. Eliot had an epistolary friendship with Groucho Marx.

Eliot wrote comedian Groucho Marx a fan letter in 1961. Marx replied, gave Eliot a photo of himself, and started a correspondence with the poet. After writing back and forth for a few years, they met in real life in 1964, when Eliot hosted Marx and his wife for dinner at his London home. The two men, unfortunately, didn’t hit it off. The main issue, according to a letter Marx wrote his brother: the comedian had hoped he was in for a "Literary Evening," and tried to discuss King Lear. All Eliot wanted to talk about was Marx's 1933 comedy Duck Soup. (In a 2014 piece for The New Yorker, Lee Siegel suggests there had been "simmering tension" all along, even in their early correspondence.)

6. Ezra Pound tried to crowdfund T.S. Eliot’s writing.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1921, Eliot took a few months off from his banking job after a nervous breakdown. During this time, he finished writing "The Waste Land," which his friend and fellow poet Ezra Pound edited. Pound, with the help of other Bohemian writers, set up Bel Esprit, a fund to raise money for Eliot so he could quit his bank job to focus on writing full-time. Pound managed to get several subscribers to pledge money to Eliot, but Eliot didn’t want to give up his career, which he genuinely liked. The Liverpool Post, Chicago Daily Tribune, and the New York Tribune reported on Pound’s crowdfunding campaign, incorrectly stating that Eliot had taken the money, but continued working at the bank. After Eliot protested, the newspapers printed a retraction.

7. Writing in French helped T.S. Eliot overcome writer’s block.

After studying at Harvard, Eliot spent a year in Paris and fantasized about writing in French rather than English. Although little ever came of that fantasy, during a period of writer’s block, Eliot did manage to write a few poems in French. “That was a very curious thing which I can’t altogether explain. At that period I thought I’d dried up completely. I hadn’t written anything for some time and was rather desperate,” he told The Paris Review. “I started writing a few things in French and found I could, at that period ...Then I suddenly began writing in English again and lost all desire to go on with French. I think it was just something that helped me get started again."

8. T.S. Eliot set off stink bombs in London with his nephew.

Eliot, whose friends and family called him Tom, was supposedly a big prankster. When his nephew was young, Eliot took him to a joke shop in London to purchase stink bombs, which they promptly set off in the lobby of a nearby hotel. Eliot was also known to hand out exploding cigars, and put whoopee cushions on the chairs of his guests.

9. T.S. Eliot may have been the first person to write the word "bulls**t."

In the early 1910s, Eliot wrote a poem called "The Triumph of Bulls**t." Like an early 20th-century Taylor Swift tune, the poem was Eliot’s way of dissing his haters. In 1915, he submitted the poem to a London magazine … which rejected it for publication. The word bulls**t isn’t in the poem itself, only the poem’s title, but The Oxford English Dictionary credits the poem with being the first time the curse word ever appeared in print.

10. T.S. Eliot coined the expression “April is the cruelest month.”

Thanks to Eliot, the phrase “April is the cruelest month” has become an oft-quoted, well-known expression. It comes from the opening lines of "The Waste Land”: “April is the cruelest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain.”

11. T.S. Eliot held some troubling beliefs about religion.

Over the years, Eliot made some incredibly problematic remarks about Jewish people, including arguing that members of a society should have a shared religious background, and that a large number of Jews creates an undesirably heterogeneous culture. Many of his early writing also featured offensive portrayals of Jewish characters. (As one critic, Joseph Black, pointed out in a 2010 edition of "The Waste Land" and Other Poems, "Few published works displayed the consistency of association that one finds in Eliot's early poetry between what is Jewish and what is squalid and distasteful.") Eliot's defenders argue that the poet's relationship with Jewish people was much more nuanced that his early poems suggest, and point to his close relationships with a number of Jewish writers and artists.

12. You can watch a movie based on T.S. Eliot’s (really bad) marriage.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Tom & Viv, a 1994 film starring Willem Dafoe, explores Eliot’s tumultuous marriage to Vivienne Haigh-Wood, a dancer and socialite. The couple married in 1915, a few months after they met, but the relationship quickly soured. Haigh-Wood had constant physical ailments, mental health problems, and was addicted to ether. The couple spent a lot of time apart and separated in the 1930s; she died in a mental hospital in 1947. Eliot would go on to remarry at the age of 68—his 30-year-old secretary, Esmé Valerie Fletcher—and would later reveal that his state of despair during his first marriage was the catalyst and inspiration for "The Waste Land."

This story has been updated for 2020.