‘Cheers’ Star Ted Danson Reflects on the Show After 40 Years

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

It’s been a long time since Ted Danson stood behind the bar as Sam Malone on the award-winning sitcom Cheers. To make some people feel a little older, we’ll let you know that the show turned 40 on Friday. Yes, sir, it was just like yesterday that Norm walked through the doors for the first time. Or when Woody first appeared. Malone is looking back on those glorious days.

“Unbelievable. I remember being 35 when I started, that’s always a nice kind of memory,” Danson, 74, would tell Entertainment Tonight according to PEOPLE. “My hair was brown, and I had a lot of it. “It still makes me laugh when I watch sometimes. It’s funny and it’s great to see my friends and they make me laugh.”

‘Cheers’ Star Ted Danson Said He ‘Was So Blessed’

When it comes to playing Sam Malone from 1982 to 1993, Danson said, “I was so blessed. I got my introduction to this business with [Cheers creators] Jimmy Burrows and [Les Charles] and Glen Charles, who are like half-hour aristocrats. I mean, they were some of the best in the business and that’s how I got introduced to half-hour [television].”

Danson would elaborate a bit more while working on his most recent sitcom, Mr. Mayor. “The reason why we’re talking, the reason why I’m sitting next to [Mr. Mayor co-star] Holly [Hunter] is because of Cheers. Everything I do is because of the popularity of that show.”

Would you believe he had trouble playing Sam, the smooth-talking guy? Danson, who won an Emmy for his work, said that becoming that character just didn’t feel too natural to him at all. He would talk about it a little more back in 2018 when making an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers. “It took me a year and a half on Cheers playing Sam Malone [to feel comfortable],” Danson told Meyers. “I never went to bars, I never picked up women. The woman would have to be standing naked in front of me and I’d go, ‘Me?’ Playing Sam Malone was anathema to me for the longest time.”

Still, people love to watch the classic TV show in reruns. Seeing Sam’s antics with Diane never fails to bring a smile to fans’ faces. Ah, some can even hear Cliff and Norm chatting it up. Cheers ran for 11 seasons on NBC and would lead to a funny spinoff titled Frasier.

Might we see Sam make an appearance on Frasier? Kelsey Grammer has been hard at work on a reboot of his classic show. We did note Grammer said back in 2021, “I gleefully anticipate sharing the next chapter in the continuing journey of Dr. Frasier Crane.” Cheers fans know that Frasier was a regular at the bar, too.