Carol Leifer (right) with wife Lori Wolf (left) and their son Bruno
The New York Times published an extended "Vows" column on Carol Leifer, the woman who is reportedly the inspiration for Elaine Benes on Seinfeld, married her partner of 19 years, Lori Wolf, on December 5.
The ceremony was a who’s who of the Hollywood elite with friends Jane Lynch, Larry David, Jay Leno, Bill Maher, Paul Reiser, Garry Shandling, Henry Winkler, and Timothy B. Schmitin were all in attendance. Wolf and Leifer’s 9-year-old adopted son, Bruno Wolf, was also at the ceremony.
The pair met in 1996 at an L.A.charity dinner. At the time, Leifer, a once divorced stand-up comic and television writer who’d dated Paul Reiser and Jerry Seinfeld, thought she was straight. She was seated at the same table as Wolf, a real estate executive, who had brought a woman as her date.
Leifer thought Wolf was the most beautiful woman she had ever seen. “I had to ask myself,” she said, “Why am I thinking this if I’m supposed to be straight?”
“I didn’t grow up feeling like I was gay and hiding it,” she said. “I was boy crazy. But Lori was so uninhibited about showing affection to her date, it was a turn-on to me.”
Leifer arranged to meet Wolf, who was at first not to keen on the idea. “I didn’t want to be a straight woman’s science experiment,” she said.
Eventually the pair began dating. “When I kissed her, there was an ‘a-ha’ moment of it working and feeling right that I hadn’t felt with the opposite sex,” says Leifer.
After a year together, Leifer came out to her parents. “I thought I was going to be the rock, and they would be basket cases,” says Leifer, who had been married to goy comic Ritch Shydner for 6 years.
“ ‘I’ll tell you when I was disappointed,' she remembers her father saying. “When you married a gentile.”
“Lori being Jewish trumped everything,” Ms. Leifer said.
But Leifer still had issues with her identity. “Carol would say: ‘I’m not gay. I love you,’ ” says Wolf. “And I’d say: ‘Well, I’m gay. So how does that work?’ ”
“If there was a time where I felt guarded or protected, that would have been one of them. But you just keep going. And you wonder: Just because she loves me, is that enough? Will that pull of society, where she can’t acknowledge she’s gay, throw it all off track?”
The pair weathered that storm and in 2007 adopted their son Bruno. Ms. Leifer proposed this year, over dinner at Beverly Hills’ Palm Restaurant. “She said, ‘I don’t want to call you my partner anymore,’” Wolf said. “‘I want to call you my wife.’”
Wolf said she’d do it on one condition, that Carol take her last name. “I want our family to have one name, the Wolf family.” And that was that, they removed the hypen from their son’s name—Leifer is now Bruno’s middle name—and got hitched.
Read the entire "Vows" column here.