‘Cheers’: Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley and 4 Other Cast Members Have Won Emmys for Show’s Roles

by Joe Rutland

“Cheers” definitely provided a belly-full of laughs throughout its run on NBC. For their work, six actors on the series earned Emmy Awards.

Ted Danson, in his role as bar owner Sam Malone, won Emmys for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series” in 1990 and 1993. Kirstie Alley, who replaced Shelley Long and played Rebecca Howe, also nabbed an Emmy for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series” in 1991.

Meanwhile, Long, for her role as Diane Chambers, took home an Emmy for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series” in 1983.

Rhea Perlman, who played head waitress Carla Tortelli, won Emmys for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series” in 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1989. Woody Harrelson, who played bartender Woody Boyd, won an Emmy for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series” in 1989.

Also, Bebe Neuwirth, in her role as Dr. Lilith Sternin, Frasier Crane’s wife, took home Emmys for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series” in 1990 and 1993.

‘Cheers’ Plays Important Role In NBC’s ‘Must See TV’

The show’s 11-season, 275-episode run on NBC helped anchor the network’s “Must See TV” Thursday night lineup. The sitcom almost didn’t last after its first season when it finished 74th among 77 TV shows in the Nielsen ratings.

But the 1983-84 season saw “Cheers” moved to a different time slot, putting it behind “Family Ties.”

It ultimately had a strong lead-in with “The Cosby Show” and “Family Ties” in the first hour of a three-hour stretch on Thursday nights. “Cheers” led off the second hour, followed by “Night Court” in some of those seasons. Drama shows “Hill Street Blues” and “L.A. Law” bookended the “Must See TV” lineup.

There were two spinoffs from “Cheers,” the long-running sitcom “Frasier” with Kelsey Grammer reprising his role as Dr. Frasier Crane, who moves from Boston to Seattle. Another one, called “The Tortellis” and based on Perlman’s character, lasted just one season in 1987.

The Paramount Network has given the go-ahead for a new “Frasier” re-boot, but the only actor on board from the old series is Grammer. John Mahoney, who played Frasier’s cranky father Martin Crane, died in 2018. David Hyde Pierce, who played Frasier’s brother Niles, and Peri Gilpin, who played Roz Doyle, are not part of the new show’s cast as of right now.

Ted Danson Talks About Acting in Sitcoms for Live Crowds

Danson remembers the tough times he faced while filming in front of a live audience for the hit sitcom “Cheers.”

Danson and the show’s crew developed a little trick to keep himself in character as Sam. After he would tell a joke, he would eat a pretzel or peanut to avoid questioning whether the joke landed or not.

“It started out. Just say your joke, eat a peanut,” Danson told talk-show host Seth Meyers. “Then we found out that wasn’t funny, so we moved to pretzels. I ate a lot of pretzels. It’s funny, but you do need with an audience, a live audience, you do need that in case your joke isn’t that funny. And you thought it might be. You do need that thing to go to so you don’t just go [surprise stare].”