‘Cheers’: Woody Harrelson Makes His Debut on Show on This Day in 1985

by Joe Rutland
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Woody Harrelson arrives on TV screens on this day in 1985, debuting as bartender Woody Boyd on the NBC hit sitcom “Cheers.”

Harrelson, who had dreams of becoming a Broadway star, ends up joining one of the Peacock Network’s “must-see TV” shows on Thursday nights.

The sitcom, which centered around a friendly Boston bar called “Cheers,” needed to find a replacement for actor Nick Colasanto. Colasanto played “Coach” Ernie Pantusso for three seasons. Sadly, his health deteriorated and Colasanto died of a heart attack on Feb. 12, 1985, at 61 years old.

Take a look at this collection of photos from “Cheers” and a page from “TV Guide” provided by Twitter account RetroNewsNow.

“Cheers” ran for 11 seasons with Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, and George Wendt as the cast’s only members that appeared in each season.

Danson played bartender and former baseball player Sam Malone, while Perlman played waitress Carla Tortelli. Wendt, appearing as everyone’s favorite beer patron Norm Peterson, always received a warm welcome upon entering the bar.

He’d say hello and everyone would simultaneously say, “Norm!” Even Woody would then ask how Norm was doing, giving him time to offer a quick retort usually about his wife or homelife.

TV Sitcom Had One Of Most Successful Spin-offs With ‘Frasier’ Starring Kelsey Grammer

“Cheers” also featured Shelley Long and Kirstie Alley throughout its run. Long played waitress Diane Chambers for five seasons before leaving. Long would return as a guest star in the sitcom’s final season. Alley played bar owner/manager Rebecca Howe from the sixth season onward.

A couple of spin-offs did come out of “Cheers” but there’s little doubt about the most famous one. “Frasier” starred Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane.

Did “Cheers” win awards, you might ask? Yes. It picked up 28 Primetime Emmy Awards and six Golden Globe Awards. The show itself won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in four years: 1983, 1984, 1989, and 1991.

Here’s one more tidbit about “Cheers” and Danson on our way out. Danson never was a barfly before the TV series.

He spoke about his experience during an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers. Danson was asked on the show about a moment for Danson on his current show, “The Good Place.”

His character goes and stands behind a bar. Meyers asked Danson, “Did you feel immediately natural being behind a bar again?”

“No,” Danson said. “It took me a year and a half of playing ‘Cheers’… Sam Malone, my voice changed just now. I’m starting to quaver. I’m getting nervous. Sick. I never went to bars. I was the guy who- I never picked up women.”

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