Julia Louis-Dreyfus Reveals How She Had A Miscarriage The Year ‘Seinfeld’ Premiered
Julia Louis-Dreyfus joined the cast of Seinfeld when she was 28 years old after NBC told Larry David that his pilot was decidedly too dude-heavy, and a female cast member was needed to move the show forward. Booking the part of Elaine Benes proved to be the most impactful moment in Louis-Dreyfus’ forty-year career — however, as she recently revealed, Louis-Dreyfus’ Seinfeld start coincided with one of the most traumatizing experiences of her life.
On the most recent episode of Louis-Dreyfus’ podcast, Wiser Than Me, the most Emmy-awarded actress in history was joined by legendary writer, editor and author Ruth Reichl, best known for her food reviews in The New York Times. Louis-Dreyfus opened the episode by telling a story of a time when food was a source of physical and spiritual healing for her — specifically, when her mother’s cooking got her through a harrowing health crisis.
As Louis-Dreyfus revealed publicly for the first time, in the same year that her life was changed when she landed what would become one of the biggest roles in the history of television, she suffered a tragic late-term miscarriage and was hospitalized with an accompanying infection. However, Louis-Dreyfus persevered, owing it all to her mom’s chili and cornbread.
“When I was about 28, I got pregnant for the first time and I was crazy happy. I got pregnant easily,” Louis-Dreyfus began, joking, “I felt very fertile, very womanly.” Louis-Dreyfus and her husband Brad Hall had been married for two years by the time they discovered that they were going to start a family.
Some months into the pregnancy, Louis-Dreyfus and Hall received some devastating news, as she explained, “Quite late in the pregnancy, my husband Brad and I discovered that this little fetus was not going to live.” Sadly, that wasn’t the only complication, as Louis-Dreyfus said, “That was emotionally devastating, as you can imagine, but it got worse because I developed an infection that landed me in the hospital.”
Louis-Dreyfus spent multiple days in the hospital living through “a complete nightmare” before she was released on bed rest. Upon her return home, Louis-Dreyfus was nearly immobilized by her ordeal — thankfully, her mother, poet Judith Bowles, flew to the couple’s home in Chicago, coming to the rescue, spatula in hand.
“My mom cooked,” Louis-Dreyfus recalled, “She made this incredible, cozy chili in a cast iron skillet, with cornbread on top in the pan. And she and my husband Brad set up a little card table at the foot of the bed. And the smell of that cornbread chili was so wonderful — it just filled the room and the whole house and my heart, really.”
There was one catch, however — Louis-Dreyfus couldn’t actually eat the chili. She was still on a strict no-solids diet when her mother came to her gastronomic rescue. But JLD didn’t care. “It didn’t matter,” she said, “It was the best meal, and I didn’t even eat it. The making of it was so comforting — it was so embracing,” concluding simply, “food is central to the traditions of my family.”
Today, Louis-Dreyfus and Hall have two adult sons, and Bowles is still active and writing – though the chili recipe hasn’t yet made it into her poetry collections.