One CHEERS question I’m often asked is “who are those guys? meaning the other barflies. Here a few of the more notable ones.
Al Rosen -- the old rummy. He was really a championship TV wrestler back in the 50’s. The first line he was ever given was a one word punch line. “Sinatra!” From then on he was known as MAN WHO SAID SINATRA. That was his official character name. Al sometimes needed two or three takes to get his line right but it was always worth it. In one episode we wrote (“the Big Kiss Off”), he was supposed to come out of the back and deliver a joke. The first two takes he went up on the line. The third take he was perfect and got a big laugh. One problem though. In the first two takes he enters holding a drink. In the third he doesn’t but is holding his hand as if he DID have a drink in it. It looks totally bizarre, but we went with it because he got the line right.
The older gentleman always referred to as Phil -- that’s Phil Perlman, Rhea’s dad. Once we started giving him lines he listed himself in the credits as Philip Perlman.
Tom Babson wound up becoming a semi-regular. Cliff was always ragging on him for attending law school. Tom at various times was listed as “Tom”, “Tom Babson”, “Tom Ballard”, “Customer #1”, and “Barney”. But you may know him from KNOTS LANDING where he played “Man”.
In the later years, “Paul” also became a semi regular. He’s Paul Willson, a gifted comic actor and one of the greatest improv artists I have EVER seen. I put him up there with Robin Williams. I feel bad for Paul because we finally built an episode around him but it was the second to the last one of the series. He pops up on a lot of shows. Always funny.
One of the great sports columnists of all-time, Alan Malamud, sat at the bar for eight or nine shows. Local LA sportscaster, Steve Bailey, had a drink from time to time, as well.
I show up in only one scene in one episode, the last Bar Wars.
All of the customers hoped that their parts would expand and become a series regulars as what happened with John Ratzenberger and George Wendt. It was never to be.
And then there’s the bar patron who was supposed to be a series regular and wound up as just an extra. In the pilot from time to time you see an old woman in the background. This was “Mrs. Littlefield”, a colorful politically opinionated spinster. She had a number of lines in the pilot. But the show was long, her character didn’t really score, and her part was cut. All that remains are a few shots of her here and there.
And finally, in a few episodes my father plays an extra. You’ll see him hitting on 25 year old women. My idea. Mom was thrilled.