‘Cheers’: How Ted Danson’s Toupee Allowed Him to ‘Have Fun’ on Set

by Craig Garrett

Ted Danson was more than happy to reveal that he and his beloved Cheers character were both follically challenged. Danson, recently seen in the comedy The Orville, has a good sense of humor about his hair loss. He proved he was able to poke fun at it as far back as during his award-winning run on Cheers.

Cheers is a hallmark of classic tv. It ran for 11 seasons from 1982 to 1993 and spun off the wildly popular Fraiser. Ted Danson played womanizing bartender, Sam Malone. Sam prided himself on his appearance, particularly his full head of hair.

However, a problem began to develop as the series progressed. My hair became a topic of conversation in the beginning of ‘Cheers,'” Danson told Deseret News in 2006. He went on to explain that a bald spot was growing more apparent. Looking back, the actor said at the time he’d hide with brown coloring “and comb my hair over it.” Tabloids were quick to exaggerate tales of his hair loss. “And then the tabloids said that I’m wearing a huge hairpiece. And I couldn’t go, “No, no — ‘I just color it in,” he explained.

Ted Danson gets acquainted with his hair… or lack thereof

By the late 80s, Ted Danson had become a sex symbol and leading man. He co-starred in the smash hit Three Men and a Baby before taking the lead role in 1989’s Cousins. It was here that Danson first started wearing his hair piece to fill in the balding area. Of course, the toupee carried over when Danson returned to filming Cheers. “I indeed did have to wear a little divot hairpiece for Sam Malone. … And then one of the tabloids airbrushed my entire head and said that I’m one of the people who is totally bald,” the actor joked. “And I, once again, couldn’t say, ‘No, no, I just wear this little … “

However, in Cheers” fourth-to-last episode, “It’s Lonely on the Top,” Ted Danson let the cat out of the bag. His character Sam, revealed his hair status to his fellow bartender, Carla (Rhea Perlman). Originally scripted to just be in dialogue, Sam confessed to Carla that his pride and joy were all a sham. However, Danson improvised literally taking off his real-life hairpiece in the scene, to the delight of the studio audience. The improvisation helped Rhea Perlman sell the moment, as she had no idea it was coming.

In more recent roles, Ted Danson has opened up about another hair challenge. He’s currently a silver fox and stopped dying his hair some time ago. “I’m out of the closet. It’s very nice not to sit around with a bunch of ladies with silver things in my hair getting dye jobs. So I’m happy to be gray,” the actor quipped.