HomeAmerican EntertainmentTVClassic TV‘Cheers’ Star George Wendt Recalled Getting ‘Beat Up’ the Day Before an Audition

‘Cheers’ Star George Wendt Recalled Getting ‘Beat Up’ the Day Before an Audition

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Turner)

Cheers star George Wendt has enjoyed a long and interesting career in Hollywood. But not all his experiences have been as positive as his time on classic TV.

For example, Went once went out to enjoy a couple of brews ala Norm one night, and some angry drunks decided to start some trouble and throw some punches. To make matters worse, the barbarity went down on the eve of an important audition.

As Wendt shared with Chicago Magazine, he and some friends went downtown to watch his all-time favorite baseball team, the Sox, play a home game that night. And because they parked right by the field, they figured they should wait out the after-game traffic at a local bar.

But while George Wendt was sitting there and minding his own business, a complete stranger walked up to his friend, punched him, and knocked him off his barstool.

“We all stood up like, ‘What the hell?'” he told the magazine. “We didn’t know there were a bunch of other guys lurking. I was lucky to get away without serious injury. I had a swollen face and a cut on my head that bled quite a bit. It wasn’t a good look for my audition.”

That audition was actually his second round for Second City, an improvisational comedy enterprise that runs out of The Windy City.

The actor did a few TV specials with the comedy team. The first was a documentary called Bill Murray Live from the Second City in 1980. That same year, he also did a TV movie with the crew called Avery Schrieber Live From the Second City. And finally, he joined the legendary group for its 25th televised anniversary.

But according to IMDB, Wendt also performed live with the group from 1974 to 1980. And that initial acceptance is what the actor was trying to land the morning after he got pummeled in downtown Chicago.

Luckily, his “swollen face” didn’t cost him his chance. And as he also shared with Chicago Magazine, when he did get into the group, it was at the perfect time.

George Wendt Found ‘Cheers’ After Failing on the Comedy Stage

One year after he started cracking jokes on stage, SNL debuted and became all the rage. So George Wendt was able to ride that wave.

“It was right when Saturday Night Live hit,” he admitted. “We cruised into this sweet spot where we didn’t have to build an audience. The place was packed with 330 people eight shows a week.”

But not long after, George Went was demoted, and he decided to give acting a try, which, of course, brought him right back to a bar named Cheers.

“I was crushed, but it made me reexamine myself,” he said. “It was my first ‘What? They don’t like me?’ which made me think, Well, I guess I’m an actor. Because that had never really occurred to me.”