Where Are They Now: Cheers

May 10, 2008

A good sitcom does more than entertain us. It comforts us, brings a smile to our faces, and takes away our troubles, even for just a half hour. Of the greatest American sitcoms, it’s hard to find one more apt to feel at home with, than one that declares during the theme song, “where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.” The ensemble cast of Cheers brought laughs, camaraderie, and loyalty to all its fans. Though the cast members have gone their separate ways, we still know their names, and want to know what they’re up to now.

Ted Danson played the anchor, the bartender, Sam Malone for the show’s entire eleven seasons. After tossing his bar towel, he starred in Made in America, Getting Even with Dad, Gulliver’s Travels, Saving Private Ryan, and this year’s Mad Money. No stranger to television, he starred in the series Becker from 1998 to 2004, and was also in the shows Ink, Help Me Help You, and Damages. Along with acting, Danson is a firm environmentalist, and has been since childhood. He was a contributing founder of the American Oceans Campaigns, now called Oceana, and is still a board member. He has donated over $500,000 to environmental causes and awards friends who fight for the environment with his own home brewed Scotch. Danson is married to actress Mary Steenburgen.

No matter how good they are, all bartenders need a server, and Carla Tortelli was just that. Rhea Perlman was nominated ten times for an Emmy in the eleven years Cheers was on the air, for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She starred in the short lived TV shows Pearl in 1996 and Kate Brasher in 2001. The comedic actress starred in Canadian Bacon, Carpool, Matilda, played Jacqueline Kennedy in How To Marry a Billionaire, and is currently filming Beethoven: The Reel Story. She is married to fellow actor Danny DeVito and is the author of children’s book series Otto Undercover. Currently Perlman is appearing in the comedy Boeing Boeing in the West End of London.

Regulars are a fixture at any bar, and Cheers had some good ones like Norm Peterson, played by George Wendt. He didn’t stay on the barstool after the show ended; Wendt's been very busy starring in The Little Rascals, Man of the House, Alice in Wonderland, Wild About Harry, Kids in America, Santa Baby, and is currently working on four films slated for this year. On TV he guest starred in multiple episodes of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Saturday Night Live. Recently Wendt performed in Twelve Angry Men in 2006 at the Eisenhower Theater in Washington D.C., then in 2007 in Los Angeles. Currently he is starring as Edna Turnblad on Broadway in Hairspray.

Norm’s fellow frequenter was Cliff Clavin played by John Ratzenberger. He has stuck mostly to voice acting, playing characters in some of the biggest animated movies over the past two decades, including the Toy Story films, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc, Finding Nemo, Spirited Away, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, and the upcoming WALL-E, and Toy Story 3. Ratzenberger is such a staple of the Pixar family that he is on the company softball team. He mocked his appearances in the Pixar films during the end credits of Cars in which his character watches other Pixar films and recognizes that they use the same voice actor over and over again. Aside from animated films, he hosts the Travel Channel TV series John Ratzenberger’s Made in America and as a musician he often plays on the show.

Kelsey Grammer played Dr. Frasier Crane for nine years on Cheers and eleven on Frasier. He starred in the comedy Down Periscope, voice acted in Toy Story 2, and starred in 15 Minutes, A Christmas Carol, and surprised audience in 2006 as Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast in X-Men: The Last Stand. On television he starred in the long running series Frasier, has been working on The Simpsons since 1990, and is currently working on the TV show Back to You. Grammer branched out in the entertainment industry, working as a television producer, director, writer, and voice artist. He owns the production company Grammnet Productions which produces the CW sitcoms The Game and Girlfriends. Grammer starred as Sweeney Todd in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street in the 1999 L.A. reprise production. As an active member of the Republican Party, he has expressed the desire to run for Congress.

Woody Harrelson traded his boyish role of Woody Boyd for some bold choices. He starred in the controversial films Natural Born Killers, Kingpin, and the People vs. Larry Flynt, the tamer films Wag the Dog, Anger Management, North Country, A Prairie Home Companion, No Country for Old Men, and is currently working on six films. Harrelson is an activist and supporter for legalizing marijuana and hemp in the U.S. In 1996 he was arrested for symbolically planting hemp seeds to challenge the state law’s distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana, and won the case. As an environmentalist he climbed the Golden Gate Bridge to drape a banner across it that protested Pacific Lumber. He is also an ethical vegan and denounced animal experiments in the cosmetics industry. Harrelson narrated the documentary Grass and travelled along the West Coast in a hemp oil-fueled biodiesel bus, which was the subject of the documentary Go Further.

Kirstie Alley sauntered onto the scene in the middle of Cheers’ run, as Rebecca Howe. She was busy throughout the ‘90s in the Look Who’s Talking films, Village of the Damned, Deconstructing Harry, For Richer or Poorer, and starred in the TV show Veronica’s Closet. Mocking the media’s attacks on her weight gain, she starred in the part reality, part fiction television show, Fat Actress in 2005. She has become an advocate against obesity and is the spokeswoman for Jenny Craig’s weight loss program. Through Fat Actress and Jenny Craig commercials Alley was seen losing 75 pounds and appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in a bikini to display her toning body. She is a dedicated supporter of V-Day a global movement to stop violence against women. She is also a member of Scientology and in 2007 she gave $5,000,000 to the church of scientology.

But before Alley, there was Shelley Long as Diane Chambers. She left Cheers in 1987 amid resounding public disappointment to pursue a film career. Her first project was Troop Beverly Hills with then very young Tori Spelling. She played Carol Brady in the The Brady Bunch movies, and stuck mostly to TV movies and shows, including Count on Me, Freaky Friday, Boston Common, Diagnosis Murder, 8 Simple Rules, Joan of Arcadia, and recently Falling in Love with the Girl Next Door. In 1992, Long starred in the controversial fact-based Fatal Memories: The Eileen Franklin Story in which she played a woman who recalls being traumatized by her father and his friends as a child. The subject of recovered memories was the basis of George Franklin Sr.’s conviction, sparking much debate and some attacks to her film choices.

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