eleven seasons, viewers knew that on Thursday nights they could go to a place
"where everybody knows your name" - a little Boston bar called Cheers. Produced
by the team of James Burrows, Glen Charles and Les Charles, who also created
Taxi, Cheers premiered on NBC in 1982. Although narrowly escaping cancellation
after the first season, it eventually reached number one in the ratings and
won numerous awards.
Danson, as Sam Malone, headed up the ensemble cast. A former Boston Red Sox
pitcher, 'Mayday' Malone bought the bar during a bout with alcoholism, then
decided to quit drinking and run the bar instead. Sam was tall, good looking,
and more than exceptionally skilled at attracting many of the women who came
into his bar. What he lacked in intellect, he more than made up for in charm.
'Coach' Pantusso (Nicholas Colasanto) was a sweet, absent-minded bartender who
worked with Sam. A former pro ball coach and manager, he liked to share memories
of his good old days, no matter how fuzzy, with his customers. Sadly, in early
1985, Nicholas Colasanto passed away, and therefore Coach did as well.
Harrelson played Woodrow Tiberius 'Woody' Boyd, a naive Indiana farmboy who
came to Cheers to meet the man that taught him bartending via a mail-order course - Coach.
Of course he arrived too late to meet Coach, but his dream of becoming a big-city
bartender came true when Sam hired him. Woody was sweet and big-hearted, but
also incredibly gullible, which made him a favorite target of the Cheers gang.
He eventually met and married rich daddy's girl Kelly Gaines.
(full name: Carla Maria Victoria Angelina Teresa Apollonia Lozupone Tortelli),
played by Rhea Perlman, was a loud, obnoxious, superstitious single mother of
six. Carla was a barmaid who was more likely to get tips through threats than
courteous service. In the sixth season, Carla married hockey player Eddie, and
thus added LeBec to her name and twin boys to her brood. Eddie was then run
over by a Zamboni machine, leaving Carla single once again.
Peterson, an accountant, was a bartender's best dream and worst nightmare rolled
into one. He was such a regular customer, you could set a clock by him. Each
time he arrived, he bellowed out a greeting to the entire bar, and received
a shout of "Norm!" in response; everyone definitely knew his name. Every day
he sat in the same seat and guzzled down beer after beer. Unfortunately, they
all went on his tab, which was the size of a city phone book as evidenced each
time Sam lugged it out from behind the bar. Perhaps Norm is best known for what
some have dubbed 'Normisms,' responses he gave to questions asked by Sam, Coach,
or Woody as he approached his seat at the bar. A sample exchange: Coach: "How's
a beer sound, Norm?" Norm: "I dunno. I usually finish them before they get a word
in." Norm is also known for his often-mentioned but never-seen wife, Vera.
Clavin, a mailman who still lived with his domineering mother, was also a regular
patron. Cliff was Norm's partner-in-crime for barroom antics. He was also a
source for the most useless collection of trivia known to man, much of which
he made up as he went along.
Chambers, played by Shelley Long, hesitantly bellied up to the bar in the first
episode. A smart, attractive teaching assistant who enjoyed literature and the
arts almost as much as she loved talking about them, Diane was out of her element
at Cheers. She was brought there by her fianc? and boss who wanted her to wait
while he retrieved her engagement ring from his ex-wife. Except, he never came
back for her, and Diane found herself in desperate need of a job. Although she
had no useful skills, Sam reluctantly hired her as a waitress.
and Diane's relationship began with a lot of barbs flying back and forth over
the bar. She lectured him on his lack of intellect and sleazy lifestyle, and
he harangued her for being stuffy and a know-it-all. As it turned out, this
battle of wills was just foreplay. By the beginning of the second season, Sam
and Dianne were a couple. Although it only lasted about a year, Sam and Diane's
on-again, off-again relationship became a standard by which all future mismatched
TV couples would be judged. They were incredibly passionate about their romance
and their fights, the most memorable of which ended up in a slapping, nose-grabbing
moment of hilarity.
Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) first appeared at Cheers as Diane's boyfriend
following her breakup with Sam. Frasier was a pompous psychiatrist, rivaling
even Diane in his sense of self -importance. After Diane left him at the altar
in Europe (with help from Sam), Frasier returned to the bar to drown his sorrows
in the company of his new best buddies. Even after Diane left the bar for good
in the fifth season to write her long-awaited novel, Frasier remained as one
of the gang. That same season he met fellow psychiatrist Dr. Lilith Sternin
(Bebe Neuwirth). They eventually married and had a son named Frederick. Then,
Lilith, an icy woman by most accounts, had a tremendous moment of passion with
another scientist and left Frasier to go live with him in a biosphere. When
Cheers went off the air, Kelsey Grammer went on to do the highly successful
Diane left Cheers, Sam sold the bar to a conglomerate and left to sail around
the world. Unfortunately, the boat sank and Sam went back to Cheers looking
for a job. He was hired as a bartender by the new manager, Rebecca Howe (Kirstie
Alley), who was determined that Cheers would be her chance to climb the corporate
ladder. She was also a groupie for wealthy executives--first her boss Evan Drake
(Tom Skerritt) then corporate raider Robin Colcord (Roger Rees).
1992, Ted Danson said the eleventh season would be his last, and the producers
decided not to continue the show without him. The Cheers finale was one of the
biggest TV events of all time. It aired on May 20, 1993, as a ninety-six-minute
program, followed by a twenty-four-minute retrospective. It even included the
return of Shelley Long as Diane. She and Sam ran off to get married, but decided
at the last minute not to go through with it. It also featured Woody, no longer
so naive, elected to City Council, and Rebecca leaving behind her corporate
romances to marry a plumber. After the program aired, the Cheers gang convened
at the Bull and Finch Pub in Boston (the real-life bar around which the show
was fashioned), and celebrated live on The Tonight Show.