November 18, 2004
No Stranger to Strange
From call girl to Trump girl, actress Lisa Edelstein has played myriad parts on stage and off. Now she's landed a plum role, starring on the Fox TV series "House," an "E.R."-meets-"CSI" drama. The Boston native heads the fictional teaching hospital that houses strangely ill patients.
"You're trying to find out what's wrong with this living person before he dies," she said.
For Edelstein, strange is nothing new. In the 1980s, she worked for the Donald, finding models for Trump business ventures. Recently, the actress saw Trump at a party. "He had no idea who I was," Edelstein told The Journal.
Since the early '90s, Edelstein has enjoyed a succession of film and TV supporting roles, including two episodes on "Seinfeld," playing George Constanza's fed-up girlfriend. "It's amazing how many people recognize me from that," said the actress, who also played an upscale call girl on, "The West Wing," and a male-to-female transsexual character on "Ally McBeal."
Edelstein grew up in a Conservative home in northern New Jersey and later Brooklyn. She went to New York University and became a Manhattan art scene fixture. She dropped out of college to create "Positive Me," an off-Broadway play early in the AIDS crisis. She was the subject of a 1986 New York Times Magazine story, "Lisa in Wonderland."
"I had already been famous in New York for just being out and about," Edelstein said. Her Warholian, famous-for-being-famous stature resulted in co-hosting a 1990 morning show that was MTV's stab at imitating Regis and Kathy Lee. "It was terrible," she said.
The MTV stint prompted the move to Los Angeles, where she lives a vegetarian life. Here, Edelstein's dark, curly hair often gets her ("too often," she said) mistaken for actress Melina Kanakaredes, who coincidentally stars in "CSI: N.Y.," the CBS hit that the new drama, "House," resembles.
"That's why on this show I wear my hair straight," she said.