Wrestling Match
In carrying out the culminating event, “the feats of strength,” Costanza faces off to wrestle with his son and warns, “Until you pin me, George, Festivus is not over.”

Even after “Seinfeld” left the air in 1998, Festivus lived on, celebrated in real life in homes across the U.S.

A website, festivusweb.com, offers party ideas, songs, a transcript of the “Seinfeld” episode and a countdown of days remaining to Dec. 23. Ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. introduced a limited-edition Festivus flavor in 2000, containing brown sugar ice cream with gingerbread cookies and a ginger caramel swirl.

The Festivus idea was brought to “Seinfeld” by writer Dan O’Keefe, whose father had come up with it in the 1960s. In an introduction to O’Keefe’s 2005 book, “The Real Festivus,” actor Jason Alexander, who played George Costanza, marveled at the joke’s broad appeal.

“It wasn’t a major story point,” he wrote. “It wasn’t a recurring story line. It was one lousy episode.”

‘Best Years’
In a 2005 interview with the Archive of American Television, Stiller said his “Seinfeld” experience encompassed “the best years of my life as an actor.” The show led to another recurring TV role, again as a crotchety father, on “The King of Queens.”

Gerald Isaac Stiller was born on June 8, 1927, in Brooklyn, New York, the first of four children. His father, William, was “the shortest bus driver probably in all of New York City,” he recalled in the 2005 interview. His mother was the former Bella Citron.

He grew up idolizing Eddie Cantor and aspiring to be an actor or comedian. After serving in the U.S. Army reserves during World War II, he studied drama at Syracuse University in New York on the GI Bill, graduating in 1950. He spent a summer in community theater in Illinois, then returned to New York to seek work on Broadway.

Stiller, who was Jewish, and Meara, a Brooklyn-born actress raised Roman Catholic, married in 1953. She converted to Judaism several years later.

Improv Skits
They worked together for the first time in 1956, with Charles Nelson Reilly, in a series of one-act plays. The pair also joined the Compass Players, the Chicago-based improvisational ensemble that spawned successors such as the Second City comedy troupe.