Last Updated: April 22, 2024
Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$30 Million
Jul 24, 1949 (74 years old)
Culver City
6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Comedian, Actor, Television producer, Screenwriter, Voice Actor, Writer
United States of America
💰 Compare Michael Richards' Net Worth

What Is Michael Richards' Net Worth and Salary?

Michael Richards is an American actor who has a net worth of $30 million. Michael Richards is best known for his role as Cosmo Kramer on the hit '90s sitcom "Seinfeld." His physical comedy, impeccable timing, and distinctive style brought the character to life, earning him three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series during the show's run. Richards' performance as Kramer has since become one of television's most memorable, with his wild hair, slapstick entrances, and quirky mannerisms often imitated but never replicated.

Prior to "Seinfeld," Richards had roles in various television shows and films, showcasing his versatility as an actor. After the success of "Seinfeld," he starred in his own sitcom, "The Michael Richards Show," although it was short-lived. He also made appearances in films like "UHF" and "Trial and Error."

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Early Life

Michael Richards was born Michael Anthony Richards on July 24, 1949, in Culver City, California. He is the son of Phyllis, a librarian, and William Richards, an engineer. Sadly, his father died in a car crash when Michael was just two. Richards graduated from Thousand Oaks High School and attended the California Institute of the Arts, but he graduated with a BA in drama from The Evergreen State College in 1975. During this time period, he also had a short-lived improv act with Ed Begley Jr.

In 1970, during the Vietnam War, he was drafted and served in the Army for two years until he was honorably discharged.

Acting Career

Michael got his first big television break in 1979, appearing on Billy Crystal's first cable TV special. In 1980, Richards was a cast member on ABC's "Fridays," on which Larry David was a writer. Richards took small television roles throughout the '80s, working on "Miami Vice" and "Cheers" and making many guest appearances on Jay Leno's show. In 1989, Richards appeared in Weird Al Yankovic's comedy film "UHF".

In 1989, Michael was cast as Cosmo Kramer on the NBC series "Seinfeld," which was created by his former "Fridays" collaborator Larry David and up-and-coming comedian Jerry Seinfeld. On the series, he played Jerry's wacky neighbor, who was frequently getting into shenanigans with another neighbor, the annoying mailman Newman (portrayed by Wayne Knight). The show got off to a slow start, but by the mid-1990s, it had become one of the most popular sitcoms on TV and eventually became one of the most profitable shows of all time. Richards won more Emmys than any other cast member, taking home the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 1993, 1994, and 1997. In 1998, "Seinfeld" ended its nine-year run at #1 in the Nielsen ratings. In 2004, Michael and his fellow cast members provided interviews and audio commentaries for the DVD version of "Seinfeld."

Richards was also the original actor considered for the lead role on the show "Monk." Michael made memorable appearances on "The Larry Sanders Show" and in the films "Air Heads," "Coneheads," "So I Married an Axe Murderer," and others. In 2000, Richards started working on a new NBC series, "The Michael Richards Show." Richards received both co-writer and co-executive producer credits. The first pilot test failed with audiences, and NBC retooled the concept. However, after just a few weeks of airing, it was canceled due to poor ratings and bad reviews. He made some appearances on the series "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and last appeared in a film in 2019's "Faith, Hope & Love."

Michael withdrew from stand-up comedy and hasn't shown his face around Hollywood much following a 2006 incident at Hollywood nightclub The Laugh Factory after he launched into a racist tirade on stage directed at a small group of Black audience members. He made a public apology on the "Late Show with David Letterman," but it was not well received. Richards also spoke out on the subject in an episode of Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Personal Life

Richards was married to former casting director Cathleen Lyons for 18 years. They had a daughter together, Sophia (b. 1975). They divorced in 1992. In 2007, Richards got engaged to actress Beth Skipp, whom he had dated since 2002. They married in 2010 and have one son together. Richards currently resides in Glendale, California.

Michael Richards "Seinfeld" Salary

For the first several seasons of "Seinfeld," supporting cast members Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, and Jason Alexander earned a nominal amount of money for their work on the show. They successfully negotiated raises before season 5 in 1993 that had them each earning $150,000 per episode, roughly $3.8 million per season. In May 1997, the supporting cast members held out for a massive raise, hoping for $1 million per episode. The network countered with $200,000, then $400,000. They ended up receiving $600,000 per episode for the show's final season, which worked out to around $15 million a piece. That's the same as earning around $24 million today. In total, before inflation, the supporting cast members earned approximately $45 million in base salary from "Seinfeld."

"Seinfeld" Syndication Earnings

Contrary to popular belief, Julia, Michael, and Jason do not make significant amounts of money from "Seinfeld's" syndication deals, which have totaled nearly $4 billion as of this writing. In order to make money from syndication sales, one needs to have equity ownership percentage points on the show. The supporting cast did not ever receive backend points on the show. They do receive royalties from when the show airs, but these payments equate to hundreds of thousands per year at most, not millions as many assume. By contrast, Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld each earned $250 million in 1998 alone from syndication sales. Even a full decade later, Larry and Jerry were earning at least $50 million per year from syndication points.

While they were denied backend points in 1997, they were able to negotiate profit-sharing points on the DVD sales, which resulted in a moderate windfall back when people bought DVDs.

Real Estate

Public records show that in 1992 Michael paid $525,000 for a home in Studio City, California. In 1998, just a few months after Seinfeld ended, he sold the home for $810,000. In 1996, Michael paid $1.75 million for a 6,000-square-foot home in LA's Pacific Palisades neighborhood. According to Michael, he was biking around the neighborhood one day and fell in love with the house instantly. There was a for sale sign out front, so he jotted his name and number on a piece of paper. The people who were leasing the home at the time called him back and gave him the phone number of the owner. As it turned out one of the renters was friends with Michael's agent and called to see whether or not the real Michael Richards truly placed his name and number in their mailbox with an offer to buy the house. The agent confirmed.

Michael toured the house with the owner and made an offer on the spot, which was accepted. He paid all cash. The home, which was designed in the 1920s by famed African American architect Paul Williams, has full views of the Pacific Ocean from nearly every room. Today the home is worth $8-10 million.

Growing up, Michael was a massive fan of comedian Red Skelton. As a child, he would have his mother drop him off in Bel-Air in front of what he thought (according to a Star Map) was Red's house. Years later, Red and Michael became friends. When Red died, Michael bought his entire collection of rare books, which are now kept in his own library.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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