Cheers (TV Series 1982–1993) Poster



Jay Thomas was a DJ at an LA radio station when he auditioned for the role of hockey star Eddie LeBec. He won the role, and was brought back in several episodes in order to give Carla a story arc; Eddie and Carla eventually were married on the show. However, since he was not a 'regular' on the series he kept working at the radio station. One day he took a call on the air asking him what it was like to work on 'Cheers', and Thomas made several unflattering remarks about Rhea Perlman and having to kiss her. Perlman happened to be listening to the show, and a few episodes later the 'Zamboni incident' killed off the Eddie LeBec character. Thomas confronted the cast in the "200th Anniversary Special" episode about the way his character was killed off. This scene is cut from the reruns.
After Nicholas Colasanto who played Coach passed away, a picture of the Native American leader Geronimo was put on the wall of the elevated alcove behind the bar. The picture had hung in Colasanto's dressing room and he considered it a good luck charm. In the final scene of the series as Sam closes up the bar he adjusts the picture in a memorial to the actor.
Including the spin-off Frasier (1993), Kelsey Grammer played the character of Frasier Crane for 20 consecutive years, a record for an American actor in a comedy series.
John Ratzenberger was the only cast member to attend Nicholas Colasanto's funeral. NBC would not allow the entire cast to take a break from filming to fly to Providence, Rhode Island where Colasanto's funeral was held. So Ratzenberger was sent as a representative for the cast. The cast and crew held a memorial for Colasanto in Los Angeles.
Sadly, the set used for the bar is no longer available for viewing by the public. In 2006, The Hollywood Entertainment Museum was closed, and the set is now being held in storage. But there are plans in the next couple years to re-open a larger museum where the set will be featured again.
Staff Writer and one time Producer Heide Perlman was the sister of Rhea Perlman. In addition, Rhea Perlman's Father Philip Perlman played the often seen and rarely heard Cheers patron Phil.
The series finished 77th - dead last - in the Nielsen ratings the week it debuted.
The writers often gave Kelsey Grammer deliberately bad lines as a game to see if he could make them funny - and Grammer always did. (Though writer Ken Levine denied this on his blog.)
After Ted Danson announced that he was leaving the series, NBC wanted to continue the series by having Woody take over the bar. But Woody Harrelson refused to continue with the series without Danson.
It was the decision of Ted Danson to leave the show at the end of the 1992-1993 season that led to its cancellation at the end of that season.
When star Kirstie Alley became pregnant in the 10th season, the show's writers planned for her character, Rebecca, to have conceived a child with Sam. Sadly, Kirstie Alley had a miscarriage and the plot was abandoned.
Early episodes did not have the familiar "Cheers was Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience" announcement spoken by a different cast member at the beginning of each episode. The spoken disclaimer was added in 1983 due to some viewers' complaining that the laugh track was too loud. No laugh track was used on the show. Despite the disclaimer, viewers still complained about the "laugh track".
A recurring gag was Sam's vanity relating to his hair. Ted Danson actually had a bald spot requiring him to wear a hairpiece.
Cliff was originally to be a Police Officer, but producers felt that his being a Mail Man would give him more access to information regarding his trademark "Little Known Facts". Many of Cliff's "Little Known Facts" were ad libbed by John Ratzenberger with scripts written simply to cue him in to the lines relating to his facts.
In episodes in which the voice of Norm's unseen wife could be heard, her voice was portrayed by George Wendt's real life wife Bernadette Birkette.
David Angell (who was a writer, story editor, and producer for Cheers) and his wife were both killed on September 11, 2001, when the plane that they were on, American Airlines flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center in New York City. They were returning home to California after attending a family wedding in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Frasier was only intended to be a temporary character for the story arc he first appeared in. Lillith was only meant to appear in one episode before she became a regular, and likewise Kelly was only supposed to be in one episode before becoming a semi regular on the series.
From the start of the series, writers and producers made it a point to never show anyone leaving the bar drunk to drive home. The series would come to be recognized and cited by anti-drinking and driving groups for depicting and helping promote designated driver programs.
Nicholas Colasanto had trouble remembering his lines and would write them all over the set. For the episode "Coach Buries a Grudge", he wrote his line "It's as if he's still with us now." on the wooden slats to the right of the front door. After Colasanto's death, the cast would touch the slat where he wrote that line every time they entered the set. Sometime later, the set was repainted and Colasanto's writing was painted over. According to Ted Danson, the cast was so angry that some even threatened to quit.
The show was originally going to be set in a hotel. When they realized the bulk of the show was going to be set in the hotel bar, they dropped the hotel and stayed with the bar.
Before 'Jay Thomas' (Eddie LeBec) got the call that his character was going to be killed off, he was sure he was about to be permanently added to the cast.
After the series ended, Rebecca was the only regular character not to appear on Frasier (1993). Kirstie Alley explained that she refused to appear on the show as Psychiatry conflicted with her beliefs in Scientology.
Lucille Ball was a fan of the series and met with the producers about possibly playing Diane's mother. But she backed out because she felt that viewers would not accept her as a character that was different then her "Lucy" characters.
When Shelley Long (Diane) and Rhea Perlman (Carla) both became pregnant in real life during the 1984-1985 season, only Pearlman's pregnancy was written into the script. For most of that season, Long was mostly filmed behind the bar or from the neck up.
After the death of Nicholas Colasanto, he still remained in the opening credits, and Coach was said to be away on various trips or errands. Coach's death was first mentioned when Woody arrived looking for him at the start of the ensuing season, and was indicated to have happened sometime between the two seasons.
A cliffhanger was planned for the sixth season wherein Sam discovers a former girlfriend is HIV positive, thus putting Sam himself at risk. The episode was never filmed due to the writers' strike.
The show's theme song "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" was released as a single in 1983, and became a moderate hit. There was some belief that Woody Harrelson was the song's singer, and was cast on the show as a result. That was not the case as Harrelson wasn't involved with the show until being cast. The song was performed by its songwriter Gary Portnoy. A 2011 Rolling Stone reader's poll ranked the song at number one on their list of Greatest TV Theme Songs Ever.
Towards the end of Kirstie Alley's second season on the series, reports began to surface that producers were looking to bringing back Shelley Long, and dropping Alley. Long later clarified, saying while she had been in contact with producers, she was only in discussions with them about possibly making a guest appearance.
The fact that Woody Harrelson shared the same first name as his character was a total coincidence. The character was named Woody before any actor had auditioned for it. According to Harrelson, he had never seen the show and was not interested in doing television but auditioned at the suggestion of a friend.
Cliff wasn't in the original script. John Ratzenberger auditioned for the part of Norm and wasn't thought suitable. He then asked the writers if they had a "bar know-it-all" and quickly improvised a character. This impressed the producers to the point that they created the part of Cliff Clavin for him.
Aside from Frasier (1993), Cheers only spun off one other series, The Tortellis (1987). The series focused on Carla's ex-husband Nick, and aired for 13 episodes in the winter/spring of 1987. After its cancellation, the show's characters Nick, Loretta, Anthony and Annie returned to their recurring status on Cheers. While Wings (1990) was created and produced by Cheers writers and characters crossed over between the two shows, it was considered more of a companion show and in no way a spin off of Cheers.
An alternate ending was shot before the studio audience of Shelley Long's final episode to hide the fact that Long was leaving the series. That ending, in which Sam and Diane actually go through with the wedding ceremony and get married, was discarded in favor of the real ending, which was filmed without a studio audience, in which Sam and Diane stop the ceremony before they are married.
All 10 of the actors who appeared as regulars during the show's run, Ted Danson, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger, Kirstie Alley, Shelley Long, Rhea Perlman, Kelsey Grammer, Woody Harrelson, Nicholas Colasanto and Bebe Neuwirth, received Emmy nominations for their roles. Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley, Shelley Long, Rhea Perlman, Woody Harrelson and Bebe Neuwirth have won.
According to the sign outside the bar, Cheers was established in 1895. But in the episode where Rebecca wants to have a 100th anniversary party for Cheers, Sam says that when he bought the bar, he made up the date.
Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman and George Wendt are the only actors to appear in every episode.
Diane always addressed Norm and Cliff as "Norman" and "Clifford". Woody addressed everybody, except Sam and Carla as "Mr/Miss/Dr" etc.
Shelley Long never intended to stay with the show beyond her initial contract. Long had only reluctantly agreed to co-star in the series as she was more interested in a career as a film actress rather than one for television.
Norm's real first name was Hillary. Norman was his middle name.
The stage at Paramount Studios where Cheers was shot became the home of its hit spin-off Frasier (1993).
Kirstie Alley refused to sign a typical five-year contract when she replaced Shelley Long. Alley felt that she was a rising film star and would only agree to a one-year contract. When the producers wanted to renew her contract the next season, Alley was able to negotiate a large pay raise.
John Lithgow was the first choice to play Frasier Crane. However, Lithgow refused the role due to the fact that he wanted to concentrate on his film career.
Norm Peterson's oft-mentioned wife, Vera, was never shown. In a Thanksgiving Day episode she finally appeared, only to have her face covered with a pie meant for Sam (and thrown by Diane) before the audience can see her face.
NBC came close to cancelling the show in its first season, but it was championed by then-NBC entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff - who later worked for Paramount, the show's production company.
One special episode was filmed but never aired on TV called "Uncle Sam Malone", in which the gang tries to convince Diane that U.S. Savings Bonds are a good investment. This is a special episode produced for the U.S. Treasury to be used during savings bonds drives. It was written by Ralph Phillips and directed by James Burrows.
According to his 2009 autobiography, George Wendt's originally scripted role was George, who was supposed to appear as Diane Chambers's first customer at the end, and consisted of only one word: "Beer!" Later then, the writers expanded and then revised Wendt's role into Norm Peterson. Contrary to popular beliefs that he auditioned for Norm Peterson, John Ratzenberger auditioned for the role George, as well, before the role was revised into Norm. When the one-line role was taken, Ratzenberger suggested to the producers that a know-it-all be available. Consequently, Cliff Clavin was created.
In early 1990, Postmaster General of the United States Anthony Frank was filmed for a cameo scene. His scene was to be used as a teaser, in which he awarded a Post Department Medal to Cliff, and subsequently made Cliff type comments about Bronze. The scene wound up not being aired on the series for unknown reasons.
Originally, the character of Rebecca Howe was written as a frigid, no nonsense ice queen, and this was how she was portrayed in her early episodes, and fans did not warm to her character. Meanwhile, Kirstie Alley had actually become quite popular with the cast. It was not until the episode where Rebecca gets drunk and confesses her feeling about her boss to Sam Malone that audiences finally responded to the character. The writers, seeing this, rewrote the character as neurotic and zany, and she remained that way for the rest of the show.
David Alan Grier auditioned for a proposed African-American character that never came to fruition.
While Carla was portrayed as a devout and practicing Roman Catholic, Rhea Perlman was actually Jewish.
The address of "Cheers" is 112½ Beacon Street.
Cheers was located under and adjacent to a restaurant called Melville's. The Bull and Finch Bar, which served as Cheers model and inspiration, was located under a restaurant called The Hampshire House.
The exterior shots of the bar were filmed at "The Bull and Finch Pub" in Boston. The bar was named after famous American architect Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844).
For the final audition, the finalists for the roles of Sam and Diane were paired together in order to pick the best "couple." The pairings were: Fred Dryer and Julia Duffy, William Devane and Lisa Eichhorn, and Ted Danson and Shelley Long. Danson and Long were chosen because they had the best chemistry.
The series was shot on film unlike most sitcoms during this time which were shot on tape. Because the series was low-rated at first, NBC was losing money on it. Paramount considered switching to tape due to its lower cost. A test scene was shot on tape but the producers hated how it looked.
Fred Dryer was a finalist for the role of Sam, a former professional athlete (originally, Sam was an ex-NFL player but this was changed to Sam being a former MLB pitcher to match Ted Danson's thin physique). Dryer had played 13 seasons in the NFL but Danson was a non-athlete. When Dryer later made guest appearances as Sam's friend Dave Richards, James Burrows suggested that Danson watch how Dryer carried himself for tips on how Sam would move/behave.
Beginning with season nine, cast and crew would annually travel to Boston to film scenes on location there. While most were filmed outside the "actual" Cheers bar for teaser scenes, some scenes were also filmed at other Boston locations as well.
According to Kelsey Grammer in his autobiography, he and Shelley Long did not get along. Long did not like the addition of the character of Frasier who upset the romance between Diane and Sam. Grammer claimed that Long tried to have all of his punchlines removed from the script but Long denies this. Grammer stated that he and Long made peace with each other during her guest appearance on Frasier (1993).
Sharon Stone, Kim Cattrall, and Marg Helgenberger are among the actresses that auditioned for the part of Rebecca Howe.
Carla's full name was Carla Maria Victoria Angelina Teresa Apollonia Lozupone Tortelli LeBec.
Although Nicholas Colasanto had been working primarily as a TV Director in the years leading up to him being cast as Coach, he never directed an episode of Cheers.
The part of Carla was at one point offered to singer-songwriter Janis Ian. Ian declined, as she would effectively have to take seven years out of her musical career to fill the acting contract. Ironically, the following year Ian was dropped by her label after the commercial failure of the album she had declined Cheers to write; it would be seven years before she recorded or toured significantly again.
Rhea Perlman's husband Danny DeVito frequently attended recordings of the show, though never made any guest appearances.
The silhouetted photo of Sam "Mayday" Malone - his nickname during his baseball career - in his baseball days that hangs in the bar is actually a photo of Jim Lonborg, a Boston Red Sox pitcher in the 1960s and early '70s. Lonborg wore #16 for the Red Sox; in one episode, Sam's jersey is shown with #16 on it.
More performers (17) received Emmy nominations as lead, supporting or guest actors/actresses on this show than did for any other series, until ER (1994), which received Emmy nominations for 27 different actors and actresses (as of 2005)
In November 1990, a Cheers To Boston celebration was held in that city in celebration of the show's 200th episode. A celebration featuring cast members was held at the actual Cheers bar. Cast members and show producers were also honored in a parade, followed by a public ceremony and rally outside Boston's City Hall.
When Cheers left the air in 1993, among network-aired shows, it was the last Paramount-produced series from the company's "Blue Mountain" era to end its run. The Blue Mountain was seen on the first five seasons of Cheers, but on recent reruns and DVD releases, all seasons, including the "Blue Mountain" seasons, have either the 1995 Paramount logo, or in the case of seasons 9-11, the CBS Television Distribution logo, plastered over the original end logo.
Ed O'Neill auditioned for the part of Sam.
The photos in the opening credits were taken from archives of photos from the 1940s and then treated to look older. The newspaper headline "We Win!" refers to the Boston Braves winning the 1948 National League championship. In the final photo, three men in black-and-white photo are colorized and the credit for the three creators, Glen Charles & Les Charles, and James Burrows is shown. Two of the men in the photo are brothers like the Charles brothers.
Kirstie Alley co-starred on the show longer than Shelley Long, whom she replaced. Alley appeared for six seasons as opposed to Long's five.
The auditions for the roles of Sam and Diane were held on the hotel bar set of Bosom Buddies (1980).
John Ratzenberger (Cliff Clavin) was originally hired for seven episodes during the 1982-1983 season. Kelsey Grammer (Frasier Crane) was hired for the same number of episodes during the 1984-1985 season.
Paramount was so convinced in the potential of the series, the producers were promised that if the show was canceled by NBC, new episodes would be shot for first run syndication in a early version of Paramount's network UPN. This proved unnecessary.
In episodes where scenes are set in the pool room at the rear of the bar, a poster for the "Boston Barleyhoppers" can sometimes be seen. The Barleyhoppers were a running club that met at the actual "Bull & Finch" pub in Boston.
A digitally remastered set of episodes was recently donated to the Museum of Television and Radio by creator James Burrows on behalf of Paramount Pictures in the summer of 2001. Paramount began circulating the digitally remastered episodes in syndication in the fall of 2001, and on Nick at Nite on October 7, 2001.
The full-length single version of this song was recorded by Gary Portnoy and included a second verse.
To help boost ratings during the first season, a special scene was produced and aired right before Super Bowl XVII (1983). The scene featured commentator Pete Axthelm.
Baseball Hall Of Famers Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra and Sparky Anderson served as the inspiration and basis for Coach.
Fred Dryer and Julia Duffy auditioned for the parts of Sam and Diane. Both were later guest-stars.
Robert Prosky was considered for the role of Coach. Prosky would eventually make a guest appearance late in the series playing Rebecca's father. Prosky would also later make a guest appearance on the show's spinoff "Frasier" (1993) as a different character.
William Devane was a finalist for the Sam Malone role.
The regularly seen background patrons, who at times would have one or two lines per episode, shared their first names with the actors who played them.
Prince once visited the set as he was friends with Kirstie Alley and Jackie Swanson.
William Devane was a finalist for the role of Sam, along with Fred Dryer and Ted Danson. James Burrows later said it was very tough to pass on Devane because he was "so good."
Rebecca's nickname in college was "Backseat Beckie".
Lisa Eichhorn was also a finalist for the role of Diane.
Ritch Shydner was a finalist for the role of Woody.
Karen Valentine was one of the original choices for the role of Diane.
At one point during the show's development, producers considered setting it in Chicago.
The name of the company that owned Cheers and employed Rebecca from seasons six through eight was the Lilly Corp.
Timothy Treadwell auditioned for the role of Woody. According to Grizzly Man (2005), not getting the role caused Treadwell to fall into a deep depression.
Stephen Tobolowsky auditioned for the role of Cliff Clavin.
The series was originally to have been set in Barstow, California, and Sam Malone was to originally to have been a retired football player. When Ted Danson was hired for the role, his character was rewritten to be a retired baseball player for the Boston Red Sox to match Danson's body type.
Many prominent guest roles were played by Actors or Actresses who were better known for performing in Broadway or other stage roles. In addition, recurring or semi-regular cast members Frances Sternhagen, Roger Rees and Keene Curtis were primarily stage actors as well.
Sam's number with the Red Sox was 16, and Eddie LeBec's number with the Bruins was 38.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page