‘Cheers’ Star Rhea Perlman Reflects on the TV Sitcom’s Success

by Megan Molseed
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The classic NBC sitcom television series Cheers has long made its mark on classic television as a whole. The massively popular pub-based comedy show ran on the peacock station for over ten years between 1982 and 1993. In total, Cheers premiered 270 episodes in the series featuring the beloved – and certainly eclectic – cast of characters we still enjoy today.

And, one of our favorite Cheers players, Rhea Perlman’s Carla Tortelli has long stood out as one of the many favorites to emerge from the series during the show’s eleven-year run. She’s brash; she’s snarky; she has so, so, so many kids. But this is just what we love about Perlman’s portrayal of Carla – the show truly would not be the series we know and love today without the character’s unforgettable zingers as she puts Cheers customers and employees alike regularly in their place.

“It was huge,” Rhea Perlman says of the success of the popular sitcom series.

“I wouldn’t have had any of the career that I — well, who knows what I would’ve had?” the 74-year-old actress continues.

“Nobody knows what doesn’t happen,” she continues. “But it was the best job in the world.”

Rhea Perlman Remembers How Her ‘Cheers’ Role Impacted Her Successful Career Noting It Was ‘Everything’

During her reflection on her years portraying the head waitress on Cheers, Perlman says that she remembers discussing with her costars each season how far they want the series to go. And, the actress notes, they took the success “as long as they gave it.”

“I remember we were all going, ‘Should we do another year?'” Perlman says, adding that her Cheers costar George Wendt who portrays Norm Peterson in the series put it perfectly into words; noting that he likened it to being given a gift.

“George [Wendt] says, ‘If someone gives you a present every year, you’re not going to take it the next year? Why not?'” she recalls. “So, we took it for as long as they gave it.”

‘Cheers’ Brings Us a Memorable Cast of Characters

The popular series revolves around one quaint Boston-based bar called Cheers. A beloved go-to spot for regular customers that is owned by former major league Boston Red Sox pitcher Sam Malone (Ted Danson). Danson’s Sam Malone serves up the drafts alongside some unforgettable bartenders, staff, customers, and anyone else who steps inside the iconic Boston pub.

Joining Danson’s Sam Malone in Cheers character during the first few seasons is Shelley Long’s endlessly pretentious – but still somehow endearing Diane Chambers. This character left the series a few seasons into the show’s run. At this time Kirstie Alley’s Rebecca Howe stepped in to manage Cheers after Sam – much to his regret – sells the bar to a corporation. Of course, we also have the beloved “Coach” who is portrayed by Nicholas Colasanto manning the bar with Sam. However, the actor died unexpectedly just a few years into the show’s run. This is when Woddy Harelson stepped in to portray the country-bumpkin Indian native Woody Boyd.

Regular Cheers customers include the frustratingly “know-it-all” mailman Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger); and the beer-loving couch potato, Norm (aka NORM!) who is portrayed by George Wendt. One of the show’s regular patrons, Kelsey Grammer’s Frasier Crane, eventually grew into the show’s hit-spin-off series, Frasier.

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