The Ethnic Backgrounds of the Cast of Friends and Seinfeld (Yes, Most of Them are Jewish; Even Matthew Perry)


After the recent overwhelming success and popularity of The Ethnic Backgrounds of the Cast of LOST, I decided I am among the thousands who are also intrigued by the vast different backgrounds of the actors of all-American TV shows.  Starting with curiosity of my own ethnic background, I soon stumbled into a new hobby/obsession: studying and memorizing the ethnic backgrounds of celebrities.  I am officially claiming to be an ethnic background specialist.  And I’m half serious, half joking when I say that.

Want to buy this “No Soup for You!” shirt for the best price on Amazon? Click here!

no soup for you

Of course for me, the most fascinating part is always discovering the Jewish actor(s) and writer(s).  Being that there are more than twice as many Asians than there are Jews in America, in theory, for every Jewish actor in a show there would be two Asian actors.  Or, being that Jews make up 1.7% of the American population, for every 100 actors in a show or movie, only two would be Jewish.  But that’s almost never the case.

So with that in mind, I felt the best way to officially start “The Ethnic Backgrounds of the Cast” series is by examining two highly popular Jewish sitcoms.  Whereas most sitcoms have at least one Jewish actor as part of the cast who plays a plain ole’ American mutt, both Friends and Seinfeld featured Jewish actors who occasionally incorporated their “Jewishness” into their  characters and the culture of the show itself.

To keep from being confusing, unless specifically stated, “English” simply means the actor is American but of English descent.  Same thing with “Scottish”, “Irish”, etc.  However, if the actor was actually born in England and is not an American, I will specifically state they were born in England, or whatever country they were raised in.

If the actor is Jewish, and I know what country their family moved to America from, I will say “descended from” or “of (ex: German) descent”.  In other words, each actor is American born, unless otherwise stated with the phrase “born in”.


David Schwimmer (Jewish, descended from Germany) as “Ross Geller” (Jewish)

Courtney Cox-Arquette (English, though she is married to David Arquette, who is Jewish, she did not convert) as “Monica Geller (Jewish)

Jennifer Aniston (half Greek, quarter Italian, quarter Scottish) as “Rachel Green” (American)

Lisa Kudrow (Jewish, descended from Russia) as “Phoebe Buffay” (French)

Matthew Perry (half Canadian-English, half Jewish) as Chandler Bing (Scottish)

Matt LeBlanc (French, Italian, Dutch, Irish) as “Joey Tribbiani” (15/16 Italian, 1/16 Portuguese)

Elliot Gould (Jewish) as “Jack Geller” (Jewish)

Christina Pickles (English, born in England) as “Judy Geller” (Jewish)

James Michael Tyler (English) as “Gunther” (Dutch)

Hank Azaria (Jewish, descended from Greece) as “David the Scientist”, Phoebe’s on-again-off-again boyfriend (American)

Paul Rudd (Jewish, descended from England) as “Mike Hannigan” (Irish)

Created by David Crane (English) and Marta Kauffman (Jewish, descended from Germany)


Jerry Seinfeld (Jewish, of Polish, Ukrainian, and Syrian descent) as “Jerry Seinfeld” (Jewish)

Jason Alexander (Jewish, of German descent) as “George Costanza” (half Italian, half Jewish)

Michael Richards (half Italian, half English) as “Cosmo Kramer” (Jewish)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Jewish, of French descent) as “Elaine Benes” (Czech)

Created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David (Jewish)

And if you’re interested in taking a DNA test like I did to find out if you might have Jewish DNA, here’s the link to MyHeritage.

Or if you gotta have these Seinfeld shirt below, you better click here to find the best price on Amazon!




115 thoughts on “The Ethnic Backgrounds of the Cast of Friends and Seinfeld (Yes, Most of Them are Jewish; Even Matthew Perry)

    • Emma, I’m completely amazed that A) I missed Joey and B) no one else noticed until now! I updated this just for you. Thank you 🙂


  1. Matthew Perry is not Jewish, your wrong about that! He is a Canadian of French and English descent! And I have always tried explaining to people that Michael Richards was not Jewish, but nobody ever believes me, but it is true that he is not Jewish!


    • Your correct. He has made mention to several people that he tends to believe in the Jewish faith and leans that way. This is possibly why some believe he is Jewish.


    • I saw before that Michael Richards is not a jew but it’s hard to believe he’s not an ethnic jew (just look at him…)….Even the name is fake…..If he states he’s not a jew he may mean a jew by religion…..Ted Koppel was another jew who claimed he wasn’t jewish…..


      • yes MICHAEL RICHARDS is not jewish by race but he looks ethnic jewish

        he has also a JEWFRO but he is half italian


  2. Matt LeBlanc’s mom is Jewish of Italian heritage. Her name is Pat Grossman. Note that in the 1700’s, that Jews were forced to spell their names differently than christians in Germanic countries. Grossmann is true German and Grossman is Jewish. Matt LeBlanc married an episcopalian in 2003, the wedding was a combination of jewish and episcopalian traditions. Shalom baby.


  3. Julia Dreyfus swears she’s NOT Jewish and gets pissed off when anyone mentions it…just her family is Jewish…GO Figure!!!

    Michael Richards is not Jewish…but he claims he feels Jewish and wants to be Jewish…the REAL Kramer, not the TV character, is Jewish.

    You missed Jerry Stiller on Seinfeld.

    Rachel Green wore a Jewish Star when FRIENDS first showed up on TV.

    The big question on FRIENDS was how was Ross Jewish but not his sister????


    • interesting fact

      there are shows where more than 50 percent of the cast is jewish !

      i have found out that KING OF QUEENS cast is 100 percent jewish !!!!

      JERRY STILLER =jewish from eastern europe
      LEAH REMINI = ukrainan jewish +italian
      KEVIN JAMES = Jewish, greek, italian, german


      • both KEVIN JAMES and his brother GARY VALENTINE changed their names in order to have success in hollywood. In the 80s the climate was different for jewish actors.

        on the other hand i admire ADAM SANDLER who always stood for his jewish heritage and religion and became a superstar. he did not change his name to an anglo fake name

        although i dont like him much i admire his success… But if you are asking his foes about him they often say,, i dont like this jew”


      • Dont forget

        THE cast of CLARISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL is also very jewish

        JASON ZIMBLER = Jewish (from poland + russia + latvia)

        MELISSA JOAN HART = has jewish roots, although she is a fucking conservative and racist old bitch
        *25% Slovenian
        *12.5% Ashkenazi Jewish
        *12.5% German
        *50% Irish, possibly other


        MARSHALL their father is 1/2 canadian jew

        SAM = SEAN O NEIL = has a very irish name but is indeed half jewish

        their mother ELISABETH HESS is not jewish (as far as i know)
        Aunt Mafalda is irish


  4. Rachel Green is “American.” What does that mean? Weren’t the original Americans British colonists? So wouldn’t she be classified as “English?” Anyway, aren’t all people living in America (Jews, Blacks, etc.) all Americans?


    • Jews are people who practice Judaism……Blacks as you put it are a race….people are from different Nationality’s(root word nation) So for example you can have a Black Russian Jew or a Black Russian Christian or even a Black/white/red/yellow Russian American Jew…..I always thought Jews were a Race/Nationality too


    • thats exactly the problem with WHITENESS and WASP
      they are everybody but they are invisible

      if i were an actor it would stay on WIKIPEDIA

      of jewish descent

      even on jewish actors who are scientologists and do have just one grandfather who was jewish


      • RE: MELISSA JOAN HART = has jewish roots, although she is a fucking conservative and racist old bitch. So because she’s conservative she’s bad?!? You’re a hypocrite and a piece of shit!


  5. The reason there are more Jews in television and film is because Hollywood was basically created and developed by Jews. The entertainment business, like a lot of others, is all about connections and the American Jewish community is very closely connected. That said, it’s not only because they’re Jews, if they weren’t talented they wouldn’t be successful, but talented Jews have a leg up in entertainment. And judging from their accomplishments they’re obviously talented. Maybe I’m wrong and Jews are just 50 times more talented and creative than every other ethnic group, I can’t really say for sure.


    • WAYNE KNIGHT is not a jew in real life but everybody i know thinks he is jewish
      because of his curly hair… actually he is english and italian

      NEWMAN on the other side is jewish however it was never said


  6. I had no idea Hank Azaria was a Jew of Greek decendence. How interesting! There are still a lot of Jews in Greece today but they consider themselves Greek before Jewish [well some of them do. And Matthew Perry Jewish??? Are you sure?? I must be so dunce not to realize that “Friends” was a Jewish sitcom I just thought it was about 6 New Yorkers and tbh will always think of it as 6 New Yorkers. I’m not a fan of all this religion thrown in I find it tackey and unwelcoming. Maybe that’s why Jen and Court were so close because Jews can be quite cliquey and not always very welcoming [no offense].


    • only ignorant and stupid people think that some can categorize people because of just one point

      jews are very different and there are tons of jews who dont see their as jews they dont practice the religion or they have just one jewish ancestor

      a religion cannot have an impact to make all religion members the same

      right wing populists and racists do this also with muslims and other minorities

      thats how racism and fascism has worked

      i really doubt that the jewish actors in FRIENDS ever talked about their religion when they were talking privately


      • I’ve noticed, along with the original poster, there are a lot of anti-semites in this thread. Yes, I believe accusing Jews of colluding with one another to get ahead is anti-semitism (but then again I also think 1930s Germany was a very anti-semitic place).

        I went to Harvard Law School. Did I get in because I got high lsat scores or because I’m Jewish? I assure you it was my lsats. And it’s the hatefulness, laziness, and stupidity of people in this thread that explains whatever went wrong in their lives to make them bigots.

        Liked by 1 person


        antisemitism and hate against muslims is very popular in societies wherever you are

        40 percent of germans still have antisemitic tendencies and they think that jews have too much power etc.
        That is sad

        in germany we have new right wing groups who claim to be JEW-Loving and muslim hating but if you meet those guys and learn them from the inside you realize that it is their strategy to show WE ARE NOT RACISTS


      • of course you expert

        Seinfeld from 1989-1998 and made the actors rich and FRIENDS from 1994-2004 but you are right nobody watched them haha


    • ryan cohen then please leave this page

      it is interesting to think and talk about this topic

      and series like SEINFELD were groundbreaking as it was the first show on TV where characters had been jewish and main characters


  7. Interesting thread here. As I recall an episode that Kramer is organized a Jewish Singles Night and Elanie says she isn’t Jewish. And as i recall Jerry says he isn’t either… REALLY?
    But they both attend for the kosher buffet supper !


  8. Marta Kauffman, the creator of Friends isn’t Jewish. At least neither on Wikipedia nor on NNDB is she mentioned as being Jewish and NNDB always points out if someone is Jewish. Kaufman is a common German name so she might have German ancestry. Kaufman is the German word for merchant.

    Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and Courtney Cox(4 of 6 Friends cast members are also not Jewish). In the show Ross and Monica are supposed to be only part Jewish from their father’s side which is why they celebrate Christmas. Joey is supposed to be Catholic(being Italian American and it was often mentioned),

    I would say Friends is a good mix being mainly non-Jewish but having Jewish elements based on two of the creators(Crand and Bright). Seinfeld is mainly Jewish(btw, both are my all time favorite sitcoms with Seinfeld being number one) being created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.


    • Irish-Americans are hugely under represented pn US tv shows. They are the second largest ethnic group after those of german background yet they rarely figure on these shows. Also how many times have we seen a holy communion on a tv show? But bar mitzvahs are a common sight.


      • you are very simple minded

        make your history lesson !
        it has to do with culture, religion and ethnicity

        Many irish people who came to the US were very simple people, poor and had no education. They worked in simple jobs and had not a strong connection to their home country. Of course we have st.patricks day but thats all.
        not much of them made it in hollywood


    • Kauffman is also an old Swiss-German name. I come from that lineage. My ancestors came from the mountains near Bern, Switzerland. There is no record of them being Jewish by religion or bloodline. Instead they historically are documented as actually Swiss Anabaptists who came to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in the 1700’s due to religious persecution. Later to become known as Menonites. Some moved to Alsace, France as well. Others to Palatinate. I have heard all my life the Jewish connotation but in fact Kauffman’s are Swiss not Jewish. My Opa Kauffman would sit back and chuckle at this ignorant banter. I mean article.


  9. Matt Leblanc isn’t simply of “French” ancestry, as stated; more specifically, he is of French Canadian ancestry. And Matthew Perry, of course, is English-Canadian American (grew up in Ottawa). So despite the more obvious Jewish character of Friends, there is also some Canadian influence from two of the six main characters. Season 2 Episode 4, “The One with Phoebe’s Husband,” provides a Canadian character as well, although Zahn is really a Minnesotan.


    • MATT LEBLANC is not jewish. he is the typical italian american from the next door

      that can be a problem and that was a problem for him until 1994
      he was casted as the pizza delivery boy in many shows


      • Judaism is a religion. The Jewish people are a genetically distinct ethnic group (and this is about the “ethnic backgrounds” of the actors…). If an ethnically Jewish person no longer observes the religion, they are still genetically Jewish. On the other hand, if a non-Jew converts to Judaism, they are fully part of the Jewish religion, but that does not make them genetically Jewish. Non-observant Jews often tend to remain culturally Jewish, and converts to Judaism will usually embrace the culture as well.


    • 99 percent of the shows in the US are not mentioning any jewish things
      most us shows are typical WASP shows…

      of course their main actors are jewish but they play anglo boys girls women and men

      CLARISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL jason Zimbler (jewish) and melissa joan hart (part jewish) and elisabeth hess(jewish ) but they play WASP family

      WONDER YEARS FRED SAVAGE (jewish) and his sister (part jewish) but they play WASP family

      the diary of wimpy kid main actor (jewish ) but they play WASP family

      and those are just 3 of many 1000 shows

      if BAR MITZVAH or other jewish event of the cast is mentioned it happens as part of the outsider actor

      for example the main actor has a boyfriend who is jewish and has a crazy jewish family


  10. Lots of great entertainers are not Jewish, which is why Having Jews play Italians really gets to me. It isn’t for lack of phenomenal Italian actors…just saying…


    • that has a lot to do with HOLLWOOD being racist

      italian americans are typically cast as italian people in shows… Italian americans are averagely darker and most of them have dark eyes and hair and darker skin. That is a problem for many actors as they are cast in dark role

      Ask the mentioned MATT LEBLANC who played just italian pizza delivery boys until 1994
      many italian americans are not just italian descent but have more like MADONNA, JOHN TRAVOLTA, ROBERT DE NIRO etc. but they are labeled as italians


  11. Hi greetings from germany

    GEORGE is indeed half jewish half italian in SEINFELD

    there was a scene when his mother says that she cannot stand german cars in a scene where somebody wants to buy a mercedes


  12. i love this page and have to say

    it DOES matter to talk especially about SEINFELD because it was groundbreaking because it was the first show on US TV which had jewish actors and jewish characters

    until this point being jewish in hollywood was weird. Many jews changed their names in order to find work and being successful
    steve Guttenberg for example talked about the problem in the 80s being jewish and having a jewish name and curly hair

    However we jews or people with jewish descent can look very differently

    lisa kudrow, jerry seinfeld, taylor dayne, josh gad, jason alexander all 100 percent jews but they look differently

    On the other hand we have asian americans and blacks where you can see on first glance they are exotic….

    However having jewish names and maybe curly hair can be a problem and you are typecast


  13. Hey migrationshintergrundde. look at what this guy said and you don’t say boo to him why does my simple little sentence and this guys doesn’t?: “Lots of great entertainers are not Jewish, which is why Having Jews play Italians really gets to me. It isn’t for lack of phenomenal Italian actors…just saying…” Huh?!? WTH?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.