So “Seinfeld” airs several times in the afternoon. Then, it's on at 6 and 6:30 on TBS. Then, it's on at 9 and at 9:30 on CW. Later into the night, it airs several times more.
And the show ended 18 years ago!
Yet, because of its iconic status and everlasting reruns, you can’t see actor Jason Alexander without thinking of George Costanza or actor Michael Richards (“Kramer”) without snickering about that hair. For actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Seinfeld” was the springboard and Jerry himself remains an idol, with a stand-up career that in fact took him to Peoria last night.
And Kathleen McClellan?
Intelligent, savvy and gorgeous, a 1988 Bloomington Central Catholic graduate, today she is 45, with two kids and a husband in finance. She’s modeled in Paris, hosted a reality show on TLC, appeared in glossy magazines worldwide as the Skyy vodka girl, designed her own home later to be featured on “E” and kissed Tom Cruise for the movie, "Days Of Thunder."
And yet …
“Because it (‘Seinfeld’) still airs so often," says Kathleen, "I can’t tell you the number of times I’ll be somewhere and someone will say, ‘You really look really familiar.’ And then they realize it ... 'Seinfeld'!"
Yes, if you've seen the sitcom, you’ve probably seen Kathleen.
In fact, if you've seen her, you've seen plenty.
In Season 9, Episode 9 that first aired late in 1997, she played "Melissa," Jerry's girlfriend. It is an episode that since has become one of the most watched "Seinfelds" of all time.
Kathleen was naked.
Or, at least, she was made to look that way.
The episode ("The Apology") revolved around "Melissa" being comfortable with not wearing clothes in nonsexual contexts, to eat waffles naked, or play board games naked, or read the New York Times naked, a trait that made George highly envious, but Jerry uneasy. That is, until Jerry decided to go naked too, and in vintage "Seinfeld" mode, discovery is made that the naked female body is art but the naked male is merely utility.
"I wasn't really naked," says Kathleen. "I had on little shorts, and they fashioned a top out of tape, and between shots they kept handing me a robe to put on and take off, until finally I said, 'I'm fine!' This is great! This is fun!'"
And the experience?
"Awesome," Kathleen says. "There was a definite art and a craft to 'Seinfeld' and they (the cast) were hysterical on-and-off camera — great friends to each other, lovely people. I remember during a break in that episode, Julia Louis-Dreyfus got on the set phone to talk with her husband about what a movie was rated and whether it it was appropriate for their young son to watch it. They were real people living real lives ... until the camera rolled. Then they were hilarious."
The daughter of Marialys and Dan McClellan, longtime B-N residents, Kathleen by high school had bloomed into a full-scale beauty, did modeling (she appeared in these pages many times) and, at the suggestion of Mary Moore, a guidance counselor at Central Catholic, she entered and won the Miss Illinois Teen USA pageant.
"To this day," Kathleen says, "I can still walk down a flight of stairs in heels smiling without ever looking down."
That also launched the confidence that sent her to college in South Carolina where she developed an interest in acting and then the bravery to venture by herself to L.A. to go after a dream.
Twelve years ago, in "real life" marrying Greg Sain, a longtime acquaintance, she gave up TV, at least for the moment, to raise a family. She and Greg now have two children, Luke, 10, and Sasha, 5, live north of L.A. and return to Central Illinois once a year to visit Kathleen's folks, old friends and old haunts like Avanti's or Lucca Grill.
"Constitution Trail is definitely a highlight for our family. What a great place to learn how to ride a bike," she says.
And the "Seinfeld" experience ... it fully lives on.
Recently, in fact, as the series passed another anniversary of ending, but also not, a poll was taken of "Jerry's sexiest girlfriends" in nine seasons of shows.
Teri Hatcher did not win. Nor did Amanda Peet, or Courteney Cox, or Kristin Davis, or Debra Messing, or any of Jerry's other girlfriends in a sitcom that launched many of them.
Instead it was ... Kathleen McClellan.
"I'm totally flattered; that's a huge compliment," she says. "It's also so cool to be a part of that show’s history. When you’re a working actress, most of what you do never airs; it ends up on a floor. But to be a part of that history is so awesome and such a privilege. And doing that episode was just so hilarious...”
And that's the naked truth.