Michael Richards has never talked about it publicly, but the famous Seinfeld actor felt it was finally time to honor his father, Carl Switzer - better known to most people as "Alfalfa" from the Our Gang shorts. "Dad would have been 88 in August. I'm 66 now. He's been gone for more than half a century and it was time."
Richards said he didn't want people to make the association with his famous dad when he was first starting out because he thought it might put him in a box that he could never get out of. "Dad really hated it when people would come up to him and ask him to sing off-key. It might have been funny when he was eight, but not when he was thirty. I didn't want that to be me." When he went into comedy he decided to take on the name of Richards, his maternal grandfather's last name. "No way did I want people to see me as Alfalfa's son."
Despite being just a boy, he has fond memories of his father. "Dad was bigger than life. When he came in a room, he was the center of attention and the funniest guy in the room. I wanted to be like him. I have no doubt a lot of it rubbed off on me," he said with a smile. "You know that high pitched panicked scream I'd do sometimes as Kramer - where do you think I got that from? But dad also had a darker side and he could be a bit volatile at times."
Richards was only nine when Switzer was tragically shot by an acquaintance after an argument about a dog. "Can you believe that? A dog!" he says shaking his head. "Of course, you wonder what might have been. My two kids would have loved him! On the other hand, if he'd have lived, maybe I'd have never pushed myself and ended up on Seinfeld."