The show “Cheers” Cast, Pictures, and Trivia!
This series centers on a bar in Boston, Massachusetts called, “Cheers”.
The theme song, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”, has become well known and is also the show’s tagline. Cheers are just a friendly, little bar, where people can come to drink, relax and try to forget their problems for a while. But more than that, it’s also a place where they can make lifelong friends who will support them no matter what and who will accept them for themselves, flaws and all.
Sam Malone (Ted Danson)-Sam is a former Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, whose nickname was “Mayday Malone”. Unfortunately, he had to quit the game due to his excessive alcoholism. Now, he is a bartender and the owner of Cheers and no longer drinks alcohol. Sam is handsome, cool and smooth, the kind of guy that most men dream about being, but he does have one huge weakness, women. He chases women of all kinds, day and night, rich or poor, he never gives up. Until one day, a woman walks into his bar and changes who he is and how he thinks, turning his world upside down, forever.
Diane Chambers (Shelley Long)-Diane is a woman who is proper and upstanding, rich in academic knowledge and filled with wisdom. When first we see her, she is waiting in Cheers for her fiancé to come back so that they can be married. As time passes, she realizes that he is not coming back, leaving her with no job, no money and no idea what to do next. Having very little job experience, Sam, feeling sorry for her, offers her a job as a cocktail waitress. At first she refuses but soon changes her mind, embarking upon a career that she feels is definitely beneath her. Sam and Diane’s attraction, though not at first apparent, becomes clear quickly, much to the surprise of them both. Their relationship, however, is never going to be a walk in the park.
Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman)-Carla is Sam’s regular cocktail waitress and the complete opposite of Diane in every possible way. She is wise-cracking, tough, cynical and treats the customers badly, though no one would ever dare confront her about it, including Sam. She is the mother of four children with more to come. And although she has no problem having children, she does have problems with her relationships. She believes deeply in superstition and secretly carries a torch for Sam. And from the very beginning, she has a profound and intense dislike for Diane Chambers.
Coach Ernie Pantusso (Nicholas Colasanto)-Coach, (as he is affectionately known to everyone) is Sam’s co-bartender, former baseball coach and friend. An older man who is forgetful, as well as somewhat slow but who is also incredibly sweet, kind and caring. Coach is loved by everyone who meets him with the exception of the people who try to trick him into situations for their own selfish gain. He is constantly trying to solve the problems of their many customers, as well as all the problems of his friends. He has a daughter named Lisa, whom he absolutely adores and is a widower.
Norm Peterson (George Wendt)-Norm is one of the bar’s regulars. Whenever he enters the bar, everyone calls out, “Norm!” in welcome and one of the bartenders usually inquires as to how he’s doing on that particular day. This is usually answered in varied ways but always ends with an immediate request for beer. He is a frequently unemployed accountant with a wife, Vera, (Bernadette Birkett) who appears to be nothing but an annoyance to him, until an issue arises and you realize that he truly does love and care about her. Later, out of desperation, he becomes a house painter/interior designer. Norm spends most of his time and life it seems, seated on the same bar stool every single day. He is kind and well liked and is never without a beer.
Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger)-Cliff is another one of the bars’ regulars. He is Norm’s closest friend and a man who seems to have the answer for everything. This, of course, annoys most people, who then either mock him, are confused by him or just simply walk away from him. A firmly dedicated postal worker, Cliff still lives at home with his mother. He does not seem to do too well with the fairer sex, but covers this up with his know-it-all attitude. Smart, kind and decent, Cliff is a somewhat unusual man but he is also a rare man, in that he always tries to do what’s right. And he is also, without a doubt, Carla’s favorite person in the world to pick on.
Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer)-Frasier comes along a little bit later in the show and is at first, simply a love interest for Diane. Shortly after, however, he becomes a regular as well and although he is somewhat different in nature from the others who frequent the bar, he soon manages to fit right in. A psychiatrist who attended Harvard University, he tends to be somewhat superior at times, but is, at the heart of it all, a kind, decent and caring man. After Diane leaves him at the altar, he has very few relationships for a while, until one day he realizes his attraction for a fellow doctor, Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth).
Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson) – Woody arrives at Cheers part way through the series. He is from Hanover, Indiana and wants to meet his pen pal, Coach. (Of course by pen pal, he actually meant that he and Coach exchanged pens). Unfortunately, he is soon saddened to find out that Coach has recently died. (The actor, Nicholas Colasanto died in real-life of a heart attack.) Carla, Sam and everyone else seem to be in complete agreement that he wouldn’t be safe on the streets of Boston, so they give him Coach’s job. Woody turns out to be a lot like Coach in the sense that he’s also somewhat slow, but very sweet and well- liked. He makes the perfect replacement and is soon a part of the Cheers family.
Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth)-Lilith also comes onto the show later in the series but as a love interest for Frasier Crane. A psychiatrist as well, she and Frasier’s first date does not work out, leading to a few months with no contact. Eventually, they go out again, aided in part by Diane’s giving Lilith a small makeover. This time they hit it off famously and embark upon a long relationship together. Attractive and stern, in addition to acting extremely superior at times, Lilith does not at first seem to be the right choice for Frasier. However it soon becomes apparent, that despite her rather aloof personality, she is actually his perfect match and adds a new and interesting twist to the atmosphere of the bar.
Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley)-Rebecca is brought in a little more than halfway through the series. Sam has sold Cheers to a corporation and the bar’s new manager is Rebecca Howe. At first, Rebecca seems to be a solid, competent business woman who has it all together, but as time goes on, we see the “real” Rebecca start to emerge. She has frequent problems with men, (mostly rich men, as that is all she is truly interested in) is sexually frustrated, increasingly insecure and tends to become overwrought more and more easily. On the other hand, she is also attractive, funny, kind and quirky. Overall, a very interesting woman to know.
This series is funny, has great storylines and centers around one place where a group of people, no matter how diverse, are able to bond with one another. You are able to understand how they come to rely on each other for all the problems that seem to come into their paths and despite all of their imperfections, they come to care for and accept one another for who each of them really are. This show was on for eleven seasons and despite the loss of a cast member here and there, (Nicholas Colasanto and Shelley Long) the show manages to carry on and be just as enjoyable as when it first began. I give it 8 out of 10.
Sam Malone-Ted Danson
Diane Chambers-Shelley Long
Coach Ernie Pantusso-Nicholas Colasanto
Carla Tortelli-Rhea Perlman
Norm Peterson-George Wendt
Cliff Clavin-John Ratzenberger
Frasier Crane-Kelsey Grammer
Woody Boyd-Woody Harrelson
Lilith Sternin-Bebe Neuwirth
Rebecca Howe-Kirstie Alley
Paul Krapence-Paul Willson
Kelly Gaines-Jackie Swanson
Robin Colcord-Robin Rees
John Allen Hill-Keene Curtis
Eddie LeBec-Jay Thomas
Mr. Walter Gaines-Richard Doyle
Esther Clavin-Frances Sternhagen
Evan Drake-Tom Skerritt
Harry “The Hat” Gittes-Harry Anderson
Frederick Crane-Christopher & Kevin Graves
Nick Tortelli-Dan Hedaya
Loretta Tortelli-Jean Kasem
Anthony Tortelli-Timothy Williams
Annie Tortelli-Mandy Ingber
Father Barry-Eric Christmas
Vera Peterson-Bernadette Birkett
Dave Richards-Fred Dryer
Andy Schroeder-Derek McGrath
Margaret O’Keefe-Annie Golden
Fire Marshal Dobbins-Robert Machray
Customer #1-Jacqueline Cassell
Gino Tortelli-Josh Lozoff
Professor Sumner Sloan-Michael McGuire
Janet Eldridge-Kate Mulgrew
Phil Schumacher-David Paymer
Walt Twitchell-Raye Birk
Ludlow Tortelli-Jarrett Lennon
Jesse LeBec-Thomas Tulak
Elvis LeBec-Danny Kramer
James Burrows as himself
One very interesting fact about the series is that the producers and writers made a strict point of never showing anyone leaving the bar drunk and then driving home. The series later came to be recognized and cited by anti-drinking and driving groups for depicting and assisting with the promotion of designated driver programs.
Ted Danson (Sam Malone) and his third wife, actress Mary Steenburgen, have been married for nineteen years. When they were married in 1995, President Clinton and his wife attended the ceremony.
Shelley Long (Diane Chambers) was actually offered the role of the mother in the movie, “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial”, but had to turn it down because she was already signed to do the movie, “Night Shift” with Henri Winkler and Michael Keaton.
Rhea Perlman (Carla Tortelli) has been married to actor Danny DeVito for 32 years and they have three children together.
There were many celebrity guest spots done on the series. They ranged from former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, to Kevin McHale of the Boston Celtics. Some of the others were; Tom Berenger, Arsenio Hall, Emma Thompson, Michael Dukakis, Robert Urich, Alex Trebek, Wade Boggs and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William J. Crowe.
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier Crane) is the first actor in the history of television, to have been the recipient of multiple Emmy nominations for performing the same role on three different shows.
George Wendt’s (Norm Peterson) real-life wife, Bernadette Birkett, was the person who provided the voice of his character’s wife, Vera.
Despite the popularity of the show, Shelley Long never had any intention of staying on the series longer than her original contract specified. She was more interested in pursuing her film career and had agreed to co-star on the series with great reluctance.
Bebe Neuwirth (Lilith Sternin-Crane) attended the prestigious, Juilliard for two years.
One of the running gags on Cheers was Sam Malone’s vanity about his hair. In actuality, Ted Danson had a bald spot and was forced to wear a hair piece.
John Ratzenberger (Cliff Clavin) was the only member from the entire “Cheers” cast, to attend Nicholas Colasanto’s (Coach) funeral. The reason for this is because the NBC network would not allow the entire cast to stop filming and fly to Providence, Rhode Island, which is where the funeral was taking place. So instead, Ratzenberger was sent as a representative for the whole cast. The cast and crew did, however, hold a memorial for Colasanto in Los Angeles, California.
Rhea Perlman is the older sister of Heidi Perlman, who is both a writer and a producer. Perlman’s father, Philip, was on Cheers in the role of Phil, one of the bar’s customers.
Woody Harrelson (Woody Boyd) claims to be a former sex addict. He is also an activist for the legalization of marijuana.
Ted Danson has played the character of Sam Malone on several different series, such as Cheers, Frasier, “The Jim Henson Hour” and “The Simpsons”.
William Devane was one of the finalists to play the role of Sam Malone and according to James Burrows, it was very difficult to pass on him because he was just “so good”. But a short time later, Devane started working on the nighttime soap, “Knots Landing”, as the sometime scoundrel, Greg Sumner and continued to do so for the next decade.
Kelsey Grammer’s autobiography, “So Far”, was published in 1995.
Shelley Long left the series after her contract was up despite much controversy. In the Cheers biography documentary, Danson admitted to the tension between the two but “never at a personal level and always at a work level” because of their completely different styles of working. He also said that Long was much more like the character of Diane than she wanted to admit, but he also said that it was her performances that often “carried the show”. Long stated later in interviews, that it didn’t occur to her that she was going to ‘sabotage a show’ and she was certain that the rest of the cast could go on without her.
Kirstie Alley (Rebecca Howe) has been married twice and has two adopted children with her first husband, actor Parker Stevenson.
Bebe Neuwirth has appeared on Broadway numerous times and has won many awards, including the Tony Award, twice.
George Wendt’s maternal grandfather, Tom Howard, who was a photographer for the Washington Bureau of P & A Photographs, is actually responsible for taking one of the most famous news photographs in existence today. It was of Ruth Snyder, a murderess who was executed at Sing Sing Prison in 1928. He accomplished this by modifying his miniature plate camera with a long shudder release and strapping it to his left ankle, before going into the witness room. The next morning the photo was seen by the entire state of New York, when it was put on the front page of the New York Daily News, along with the headline: DEAD! The camera is now at the Smithsonian Institute.
Cheers were almost cancelled during its first season, due to its ranking last for its premiere episode. Fortunately, this was not the case for long. Out of its eleven seasons, Cheers managed to get a top-ten rating for eight of them, including one season in the number one spot.
The spin-off series, “Frasier”, became quite popular also and was on the air until 2004. This means that Kelsey Grammer played the same character (Frasier Crane) for twenty years on prime-time television which is a record for an American actor tied only by one man, actor James Arness, who played Marshall Matt Dillon on “Gunsmoke”.
Woody Harrelson is close friends with actor Michael J. Fox.
Cheers ended only because Ted Danson decided to leave the show. NBC wanted to keep it going; however, by using a storyline that involved Woody taking over the bar but Harrelson (who played Woody on the show) refused to do the show without Danson.
On TV Guide’s list of “100 Greatest Episodes of All Time” in 1997, there were two Cheers episodes that made the list. They were “Thanksgiving Orphans” and “Home is the Sailor”; they ranked at #7 and #45.
Near the end of season three, Nicholas Colasanto died from a heart attack while at home (February 12, 1985). He had actually been diagnosed with the heart condition during the mid-70’s, but it had worsened in the months before his death. Not long before his fatal attack, he was hospitalized because of water in his lungs and though he did recover from that, he was not cleared to go back to work. Despite this, he did go to the set to at least watch a few of the episodes being filmed. Perlman said, “He wanted to be there so badly. He didn’t want to be sick. He couldn’t breathe well; it was hard; he was laboring all the time.”
Rhea Perlman was nominated for an Emmy award for her role as Carla Tortelli, ten out of her eleven years in the part. She won four times.
In 1981, Kirstie Alley’s mother was killed in a car accident caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol.
In 1996, Kelsey Grammer spent a period in the Betty Ford clinic for problems with substance abuse.
Both John Ratzenberger and George Wendt went to the Supreme Court in 2000, in order to get control of their Cheers characters (Cliff and Norm). The characters are wanted for commercials for Cheers-like airport bars and both actors have said that they created the characters and do not want them to be exploited.
The three people that created Cheers were, Glen Charles, Les Charles and James Burrows. After they finally decided on a bar as the setting, they then had to make the decision about where the bar would be located. After several options were discussed and tossed out, they eventually settled on Boston. The model for Cheers was the “Bull & Finch Pub”, which they picked from a phonebook. Glen Charles then asked the owner of the bar, Tom Kershaw, if they could possibly shoot some interior and exterior photographs, he agreed. Though he only charged them one dollar to do this, he has made millions since, from things like selling Cheers memorabilia to licensing the pub’s image. In addition, in 1997, the Bull & Finch Pub became one of the busiest outlets in the America food and beverage business. Shelley Long, who was in Boston at the time, said that a bar she had recently come across resembled the bar in the script. Amazingly, it turned out to be the Bull & Finch Pub. It actually draws more than one million visitors a year and has been re-named, “Cheers Beacon Hill”.
Bebe Neuwirth had a total hip replacement in May of 2006.
George Wendt has played the character of Norm Peterson on six different television shows. The more remarkable thing is that he is one of only four actors to have done this. The six shows were; Cheers, Frasier, The Tortelli’s, “St. Elsewhere”, “The Simpsons” and Wings.
The night of the Cheers series finale, (which followed a season finale of “Seinfeld” as a lead-in) NBC dedicated its entire night to it. Starting with a “pregame” show hosted by Bill Costas, the finale, tributes that were aired to the show during local newscasts and finally ending with “A Tonight Show” that was broadcast from the Bull & Finch Pub. In the end, it was the most watched television show that year and ranked eleventh all time in entertainment programming.
Ted Danson also had a lead character role on the series, “Becker”.
GQ Magazine held an online contest in 2013, to find the best TV comedy. The winner was Cheers, the greatest comedy show of all time.
Woody Harrelson has been married twice and has three daughters.
Kirstie Alley is best friends with actor John Travolta and is also a very close friend of Oprah Winfrey.
Actress and comedienne, Lucille Ball, was a big fan of the show and actually met with the producers about the possibility of playing Diane Chambers’ mother. In the end, however, she changed her mind, feeling that the viewer’s simply would not accept her playing a character that was so unlike her “Lucy” characters.
Throughout the show’s eleven seasons, three of the main cast members were on every episode. These three were, Ted Danson, George Wendt and Rhea Perlman.
Sadly, many of Kelsey Grammer’s friends or relatives seem to have been killed in shocking ways. His father was shot and killed while in the Virgin Islands. His sister, Karen, was also murdered. She was kidnapped, raped and killed by spree killer, Freddie Glenn. His twin half-brothers died in a scuba/shark accident and a friend of his for forty years, hotel heir, Ben Novack, Jr. was killed by his wife. He was also a close friend of David Angell, who worked on both Cheers and Frasier and was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack.
Shelley Long has been in films and guest starred on many different television series such as, “Strong Medicine”, “8 Simple Rules” and “Boston Legal”.
Rhea Perlman is close friends with actress Lucy Liu.
John Ratzenberger was one of the people who helped to construct the stage for the legendary Woodstock Festival in 1969.
Bebe Neuwirth raises money in order to help stray cats and dogs.
Cheers was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series for all eleven of its seasons, winning in 1983, 1984, 1989 and 1991. They also won the Golden Globe for “Best TV-Series-Comedy/Musical” in 1991. And in 2006, they were presented the “Legend Award”, with many of the cast members attending.
George Wendt was on “The Colbert Report” in 2009, the day before the announcement of what city would host the Summer Olympics in 2016. As their way of supporting the city of Chicago, Illinois, Wendt and Colbert comically insulted the other three cities that were in the running, Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, while drinking Chicago’s favorite Old Style beer.
Nicholas Colasantao was a decorated veteran from World War II. He received the World War II Victory Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the Honorable Service Lapel Button.
Kirstie Alley purchased the former home of Lisa Marie Presley in May of 2000, for $1.5 million.
Jay Thomas, who played the recurring character of Eddie LeBec, (Carla’s hockey playing husband) was a DJ when he got the job on Cheers. Because his character was not a regular, he kept his job at the radio station. One day he received a call asking him what it was like to work on Cheers. His reply was to make several insulting remarks about actress Rhea Perlman and having to kiss her. As fate would have it, Perlman happened to be listening on that day, and a few episodes later, Eddie LeBec was killed in a Zamboni accident.
When Kirstie Alley discovered she was pregnant during the 10th season, the writer’s decided to have a storyline where she and Sam have a child together. Quite sadly, Alley had a miscarriage and they dropped the idea.
Kelsey Grammer has expressed interest in possibly running for political office someday.
During season three, both Shelley Long and Rhea Perlman became pregnant. Perlman’s pregnancy was written into the show, however Long’s was not.
David Angell, who worked on Cheers in a variety of positions, (story editor, producer and writer), was killed along with his wife, in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. They were on American Airlines flight 11 from Boston, Massachusetts to Los Angeles, California. Their plane was, of course, one of four that were hijacked that day and theirs was one of two planes that was flown into the World Trade Center in New York City.
John Ratzenberger is the only member of the Cheers cast to have actually lived in Boston at one time.
While Ted Danson was married to his second wife, Casey Coates, they had a daughter, Kate, on Christmas Eve 1979. During the delivery, Coates suffered a stroke and Danson spent the next several years helping her to recuperate. They later had a second daughter, Alexis, whom they adopted. Unfortunately, they were divorced in 1993, due to Danson’s affair with Whoopi Goldberg. The divorce was reported to have cost Danson around $30 million and was one of Hollywood’s costliest to date.
Nicholas Colasanto had difficulty remembering his lines and would write them in many places all over the set. One particular line that he wrote down was, “It’s as if he’s still with us now”, for the episode, “Coach Buries a Grudge”. He wrote it on the wooden slats that are to the right of the front door and after the death of Colasanto, every time the cast would enter the set, they would touch the slats. At some point, the set was repainted and Colasanto’s words were painted over. According to Ted Danson, the cast was so angry over this, that some of them even threatened to quit.
Bebe Neuwirth has played all three of the main female roles in the Broadway Revival of “Chicago”.
Shelley Long has been married and divorced twice. She has one child, a daughter named Juliana.
Woody Harrelson’s father, Charles Harrelson, was convicted of killing Federal Judge John H. Wood, Jr. in 1979. He was sentenced to two life sentences and later died during his incarceration at the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility. His father also claimed to be one of the “hobos” who was first taken away from “the grassy knoll” immediately after the shooting of President John F. Kennedy.
As of 2005, Cheers received more Emmy nominations for lead, supporting or guest actor/actresses than any show out there, until the series, “ER.”
Although the series, “Wings”, was created and produced by writers from Cheers, as well as the fact that they had the occasional cross-over of characters between the two series, Wings was not, in fact, a spin-off of Cheers as most people thought. The Cheers series did produce two spin-off series; they were “Frasier” and “The Tortellis”.
Rhea Perlman and husband, Danny DeVito separated late in 2012 but reconciled in March of 2013.
Kirstie Alley, who is a huge believer in Scientology, gave the The Church of Scientology a sum of $5 million.
There are two rather amazing coincidences between Woody Harrelson and his character, Woody Boyd. First, that they both had the same first name, the character was named before any actor had a chance to audition for the part. Secondly, the character (Boyd) was from Hanover, Indiana, and this is the town where Harrelson actually attended college in real-life.
Ted Danson was ranked #2 in TV Guide’s list of the “Top 25 Television Stars”.
Nicholas Colasanto suffered from alcoholism for more than twenty years, but became sober in 1976, as well as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Kelsey Grammer suffered a mild heart attack in May of 2008.
In 2010, Harrelson played for Soccer Aid 2010 for UNICEF UK. The match was broadcast live and after fellow teammate Gordon Ramsay, was injured, Harrelson was sent in and took the final penalty in the penalty shootout. Although unsure at first as to where the kick had to be taken from, Harrelson scored the winning goal for “The Rest of the World” team. And in doing so, beat England for the first time since the tournament started.
George Wendt has appeared on Broadway several times.
Cheers came in at #18 on TV Guide’s list of “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time” in 2002. Additionally, in 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it as the eighth best written television series ever.
Shelley Long didn’t want the hot set lights to damage her hair while working on the set, so she wore a wig.
Kirstie Alley has a new sitcom coming out on TV Land in the fall of 2013 called,
“Kirstie”. The show will reunite her with former co-star, Rhea Perlman (Carla Tortelli).
George Wendt and Shelley Long both guest-starred on an episode of the popular television series, M*A*S*H.
Bebe Neuwirth is quoted as saying, “If you have to ask how to be sexy after 40, you probably can’t do it.”
Ted Danson is very interested in environmental issues and wrote his first book, “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans And What We Can Do To Save Them” in 2011 with journalist, Michael D’Orso.
John Ratzenberger has had a role of some kind in every film that has ever been made by Pixar.
Nicholas Colasanto spoke the Italian language fluently.
When the actors were being chosen for the parts of Sam and Diane, it came down to three couples. The first was Fred Dryer and Julia Duffy, the second, William Devane and Lisa Eichorn and the last, of course, was Ted Danson and Shelley Long. Danson and Long were chosen because they had the best chemistry of the three.
Rhea Perlman is the author of the very popular children’s book series, “Otto Undercover”.
Shelley Long was hospitalized in November of 2004, after an overdose of painkillers, spending one week in the hospital before her eventual release.
George Wendt attended Notre Dame University when he was younger, but dropped out before graduating. He is, however, an avid Notre Dame Football fan.
Kirstie Alley competed on the hit show, “Dancing with the Stars” in 2011.
In Kelsey Grammer’s autobiography, he says that he and co-star Shelley Long did not get along with one another. Apparently, long thought that the addition of the Frasier character upset the romance between Sam and Diane. Grammer also claimed that Long actually tried to have his punch lines removed from the scripts but Long has denied this. According to Grammer, during Long’s appearance on his show, Frasier, they made their peace with each other.
Nicholas Colasanto had a portrait of Geronimo hung in his dressing room because he considered it a good luck charm. After his death, the portrait was then hung on a wall in the “Cheers” bar. At the end of the series finale, Sam walks over to the portrait and straightens it in memory of Colasanto.