Back in the day, long before the advent of streaming services, folks used to hustle home to their TV sets on Thursday evenings to hunker down for an evening of laughs and good cheer on NBC during an era when sitcom after sitcom entertained millions of viewers. One of the series that was at the front and center of this cultural phenomenon was Cheers – a program that was so good that it would be doing it an immense disservice to merely call it amazing.
Cheers ran for 11 seasons. It was a comedy that was set at a Boston bar owned and operated by Sam Malone – a womanizing former relief pitcher for the Red Sox. The series’s ensemble cast included waitresses Dian Chambers and Carla Tortelli, second bartender Coach Ernie Pantusso, and bar regulars Cliff Clavin and Norm Peterson. Later on in it’s run, the main characters of the show included Rebecca Howe, Lilith Sternin, Woody Boyd, and Frasier Crane.
The series premiered on September 30, 1982, and ran until May 20, 1993. Throughout those 11 seasons, the show had a total of 275 half-hour episodes. After making it’s premier in ’82, the show was almost canceled during it’s first season due to ranking almost last in ratings for it’s premier. However, Cheers quickly became a ratings juggernaut in the US. Throughout eight of it’s 11 seasons, it ranked in the top ten, and for it’s 9th season, it peaked at number 1.
Cheers won a staggering 28 Emmy Awards – including four for best comedy series. It went on to spawn two spin-offs, one of which was successful while the other was not.
It’s been 30 years since Cheers aired it’s series finale. To celebrate Cheer’s 40th anniversary, let’s check in with it’s stars to see what they are up to today. Unfortunately, not everyone that appeared on the program is still with us, but many are still alive and kicking.
Ted Danson – Sam Malone
Danson’s character, Sam Malone, was the owner and bartender of Cheers. Throughout the series, he had an on and off again relationship with Diane Chambers as well as several other flings with other female characters. Unfortunately, he was never able to pursue any meaningful relationship.
After Cheers concluded, Danson went on to star in the sitcom Becker which aired from 1998 to 2004. From 2011 to 2015, he appeared on CSI. From 2016 to 2020, he starred in the modern-day cult classic sitcom The Good Place, and since it’s premier in 2000, he’s enjoyed a recurring role on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Most recently, Danson has portrayed Mayor Neil Bremer on the NBC sitcom Mr. Mayor. After airing for two seasons, the series was canceled in 2022.
Danson has been married to his wife, actress Mary Steenburgen since 1995. Before that, he was married to producer Cassandra Coates from 1987 to 1993. While married to Coates, Danson had a brief albeit highly publicized affair with actress Whoopi Goldberg while the two were filming Made in America.
In September 2022, sat down and talked with ET’s Kevin Frazier. In that interview, he reflected back on his time on Cheers. He mentioned that he was just 35 when the show first started. The 74-year-old actor went on to say that he has never forgotten where he came from and how he’s managed to achieve so much success. As a main cast member on Cheers, Danson says that he owes everything to the show. If he hadn’t appeared in it throughout it’s entire run, it’s unlikely that he would have been able to find the same level of success as an actor.
Shelley Long – Diane Chambers
Shelley’s character on Cheers, Diane Chambers, was an academic who abandoned her fiance in the show’s pilot and reluctantly became a barmaid.
In addition to dating Sam, Chambers also had a relationship with Frasier Crane. In season 5, she left Boston to live and work in LA.
Long reprised her role as Diane Chambers in four episodes of the Cheers spin-off series, Frasier. She began playing the character DeDe Pritchett on Modern Family in 2009.
She has also made appearances in a handful of films, including The Brady Bunch Movie, Troop Beverly Hills, and Dr. T & the Women.
Nicholas Colasanto – Ernie ‘Coach’ Pantusso
Coach Ernie Pantusso was a widowed bartender and retired baseball coach. Coach’s character was killed off suddenly with little explanation given during season three following the actor’s real-life death.
Before appearing on Cheers, Colasanto served in World War II. He had worked in Hollywood for many years as an actor and director before being offered the role of Coach. At the time, he was preparing to retire from acting, but ultimately that role would end up becoming the one he was best known for.
Before he even took the role, Colasanto had been diagnosed with heart disease. By the third season, his health had deteriorated significantly, and his co-stars were beginning to take note of his rapid weight loss. Colasanto kept the seriousness of his illness a closely guarded secret, but after he began having difficulties remembering his lines, the rest of the cast began to realize that he wasn’t doing very well.
Colasanto died of a heart attack at age 61 on February 12, 1985. Shockingly, NBC didn’t allow the Cheers cast to take a break from filming to attend his funeral. Only John Ratzenberger was able to attend his service in Providence, Rhode Island. The rest of the cast held a private memorial service for him in Los Angeles.
Rhea Perlman – Carla Tortelli
Carla Tortelli was a wisecracking and highly cynical cocktail waitress who was seriously lacking in customer service skills. She was a divorced mother of four kids at the start of the series and went on to birth four more children throughout the show’s run.
Post Cheers, Perlman briefly starred in the sitcom Pearl and appeared in the 1996 children’s film, Matilda. She also had a recurring role in the series The Mindy Project from 2014 to 2018.
In 1982, Perlman got married to actor Danny Devito, The couple went on to have three children. While they’ve never officially divorced, they split in 2012. They eventually got back together again, but separated once more in 2017. Although they are now living out their lives separate from each other, they’ve maintained a close friendship and still deeply care for each other.
George Wendt – Norm Peterson
Norm Peterson was a regular patron at Cheers. He had a loving yet troubled marriage with Vera, who despite never being seen on the series, was occasionally employed as the establishment’s accountant.
Norm was never meant to be a primary cast member When Wendt auditioned, he originally was going to to receive a relatively minor role in the pilot, but the producers loved his energy so much that he became a permanent character on the series.
Besides his role on Cheers, Wendt has appeared in films such as Fletch Gung Ho, Forever Young, Dreamscape, Hostage for a Day, Lakeboat, and Man of the House.
John Ratzenberger – Cliff Clavin
Cliff Clavin was a know-it-all regular patron at Cheers. He was employed as a postal worker and was also Norm’s best buddy. Throughout the series, he continued to live with his mother.
Much like Wendt, Cliff was not originally scripted into the show’s pilot episode.
After Cheers, Ratzenberger went on to have a prolific voice-acting career. In fact, he’s the only voice actor to appear in every Pixar film, including all of the Toy Story films. He’s also appeared notably in Cars and The Incredibles.
From 2004 to 2008, John hosted the docu-series Made in America.
Woody Harrelson – Woody Boyd
Woody Boyd was a good-intentioned yet not very intelligent bartender who was hired after Coach’s passing.
After Cheers, Harrelson went on to have a prolific acting career, landing leading roles in films like The People Vs. Larry Flint, Indecent Proposal, and Natural Born Killers.
He’s been nominated for an Emmy for his role in season one of True Detective. He received an Academy Award nod for his role in the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Kelsey Grammer – Frasier Crane
On Cheers, Dr. Frasier Crane was a psychiatrist and regular bar patron who was Diane’s primary love interest in the show’s third season. Crane later got married to Lilith Sternin and had a son with her whom they named Frederick.
After Cheers wrapped, Grammer became the focus of the Cheer’s spin-off sitcom, Frasier. In that series, Frasier was divorced from Lilith and was living in Seattle where he worked as a radio personality. Grammer appeared in that role from 1993 to 2004.
Besides Cheers and Frasier, Grammer voiced the character Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons until 2017. He’s also appeared in big blockbuster films like X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Transformers: Age of Extinction. On TV, he’s appeared in shows like Boss, Proven Innocent, and Back to You.
In 2022, it was officially confirmed that Dr. Frasier Crane would be making a comeback on TV screens. Frasier is finally receiving it’s long overdue and much-anticipated reboot. The Frasier reboot is expected to premiere on Paramount+ in late 2023.
Kirstie Alley – Rebecca Howe
Rebecca Howe first appeared on Cheers during season 6 after Diane Chamber’s departure. She was the manager assigned by the bar’s new corporate franchise owner until Sam regained ownership. After Sam took back over the bar, Howe remained on the payroll as a cocktail waitress. Despite his frequent advances, Howe consistently rejected Sam.
Alley has appeared in several movies, including Look Who’s Talking and it’s sequels, For Richer and Poorer, Drop Dead Gorgeous, and It Takes Two.
More recently, Alley has played a fictionalized version of herself in the short-lived comedy series Fat Actress. She also placed second on Dancing with the Stars in 2012. In 2018, she was a house guest on Celebrity Big Brother.
Bebe Neuwirth – Lilith Sternin
Lilith was an uptight psychiatrist and regular patron at Cheers. She eventually got married to Frasier, but as we already touched on earlier, she and Dr. Crane got divorced in the spin-off series.
After Cheers ended, Neuwirth appeared in 12 episodes of Frasier. She later starred in a TV pilot called Dear Diary which ended up winning an Oscar. She went on to appear in TV programs like Deadline, Madam Secretary and Law & Order: Trial by Jury. More recently, she made a cameo appearance in 2019s Jumanji: The Next Level.
With that, we’ll go ahead and wrap this video up, but before you move on to watching another one of our facts-packed videos, let us know in the comments who your favorite Cheers cast member was. Also, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the upcoming Frasier reboot. Do you think the series will be able to live up to the original, or are you expecting it to be a disappointment?