Seinfeld’s ‘Soup Nazi’ made almost no money for his iconic role


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When you play an iconic character on one of the most popular series in television history, you can be forgiven for assuming that means steady paychecks for life. But if you’re Larry Thomas, the man who played the “Soup Nazi” on the comedy series Seinfeld, you can’t count on royalty payments alone to do the trick.

In an interview with business blogger Jane Wells, Thomas said that he was paid $2,610 for his first appearance on the series, then received three payments of $3,500 each, one for appearing in the widely hated series finale and the other two for its prime time reruns. Altogether that meant Thomas made a total of $13,500 as part of the Seinfeld extended universe.

Wells, who also appeared in the finale as an on-scene reporter covering Jerry Seinfeld’s trial with Geraldo Rivera (a nod at her in-real-life reporting for “Rivera Live” during the O.J. Simpson trial), said that her most recent residual check was worth less than $20, and at one time she received one worth 11 cents. At one point, Thomas was earning $20,000 in residuals, but that gradually dwindled down to an amount so low, he couldn’t even deposit the check.

“I have gotten the lowest residual check possible,” he said. “It just said ‘void, non-negotiable,’ because it was worth less than a penny.”

Rather than lament the situation, he put his “Soup Nazi” hat back on and shook his money-maker.

“Since 2003, I have made a pretty decent living doing nothing but autograph shows, personal appearances, and then finally Cameo in 2020,” he said.

For those not in the know, Cameo is a site where celebrities are paid to make personalized messages, and Thomas would provide this service at a rate of $80 per video. That may not sound like a lot, but sternly barking his signature line in those video messages added up, especially when everyone had to stay at home indefinitely during the coronavirus pandemic.

“While all my friends were hurting bad, I made more money than I ever made in my life,” he said.

Thomas also said that he recently contacted Jerry Seinfeld to tell him about all the success he’s had, and the comedian gave him a response that he took to heart.

“I’m so glad that perfect performance you did all those years ago is still serving you,” Seinfeld told him. “Any work is good work in this crazy business of ours.”

Check out the interview here:


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