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Uncle Leo Actor Len Lesser Was Blown Away By Seinfeld's Impact Across The World

Len Lesser, who played the role of Uncle Leo on "Seinfeld," was astonished at the lasting power his minor character had on fans across the world. Lesser played Jerry Seinfeld's uncle on the beloved sitcom, appearing in 14 episodes as the comedian's relative. Leo was best known for his enthusiastic greetings of his nephew, delivered with a comedically wide stance and open palms.

Despite his limited screen time in "Seinfeld," Lesser made a strong impression. In one memorable episode, Jerry flatters Leo about his looks in an effort to make him break up with a woman before insulting his appearance in an effort to get them back together. In another, Jerry catches Leo stealing a book, to which Leo replies that all old people steal things because they can claim to be confused.

Looper may have named him among the most underrated sitcom characters of all time, but Uncle Leo has a vibrant fan base spanning the globe. Lesser died in 2011 at the age of 88 but took with him the knowledge that people all over the world adored the character of Uncle Leo.

From New York to Jerusalem, people love Uncle Leo

In a 2010 interview uploaded to YouTube by Thomas Lewis, Len Lesser looked back on his time as Uncle Leo on "Seinfeld," astonished and moved by the scale of the impact the character had on fans across the world.

"To this day I get people wherever I go," Lesser said. "New York, Los Angeles, I was in Europe ... I was in Australia. 'Uncle Leo! Uncle Leo!' So help me, God! I walk down the street and they pour out of the ... stores and restaurants and things. 'Uncle Leo, can I have your autograph?'" According to Lesser, he also regularly received batches of fan mail addressed to Uncle Leo. He was getting recognized many years after "Seinfeld" had concluded.

Perhaps the most astonishing fan encounter Lesser had came during a trip to Israel, where he found himself at the Western Wall, a religious site in Jerusalem where Jews believe the ancient Temple of Jerusalem once stood. Along with the surrounding Temple Mount, it is the holiest site in the Jewish faith and perhaps the last place Lesser expected to meet a starstruck Seinfeld fan. "It was a Sunday afternoon," Lesser said, "and I was standing there just kind of quite taken with what was going on. People going up to the wall and praying, putting notes in the wall, you know? And I was feeling very religious, very quiet. And all of a sudden, I hear, 'Uncle Leo! Where's the watch?' It was like sacrilege at the Wall."

Lesser's surprise at the recognition he received for playing a character who only appeared in a total of 14 episodes across the entire nine seasons of "Seinfeld" is understandable. But the character clearly lived on with many fans long after the "show about nothing" ended.