Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The CHEERS names not everybody knows

After yesterday's mention of Al Rosen I received a lot of comments about him and some of the other CHEERS regulars you often saw, occasionally heard, but never knew who they were. I posted on this about a year ago but it's worth bringing back and updating.

First up is Al Rosen -- the old rummy. I couldn't find a picture of him otherwise I'd include it. Al was really a championship TV wrestler back in the 50’s. He was the MAN WHO SAID SINATRA. Al sometimes needed two or three or eight takes to get his line right but it was always worth it. In one episode we wrote that someone referenced in the comments (“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. If you have the DVD check it out.

The older gentleman always referred to as Phil -- that’s Phil Perlman, Rhea’s dad (pictured left). 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 (pictured right), 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. You're welcome, dad.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoy all these Cheers posts. Thanks a lot!


emily latella said...

You want to go where people know,
People are all the same;
You want to go where everybody knows your name.

And now we know...

Diogo said...

there was also a guy, I think his name was Steve, that appeared several times during the early years. he was in "Norman's Conquest" and several others, but then disappeared. And, If I'm not mistaken a character named Jack, who didn't survive the first year.

I just remembered. wasn't it also Al that called Woody's parents to convince them to let him stay in Boston? he has the last line of that episode "don't mention it, kid". :D

Diogo said...

I just remembered another one (last one I swear) Al is sitting in Gary's old towne tavern, carla comes in and asks "Al, why aren't you at cheers?" and he goes, without missing a beat "this isn't

Alan Sepinwall said...

Wasn't there also another semi-regular named Pete? My strongest memory of him is in "Indoor Fun With Sammy and Robby," when we find out he supplied the surveillance equipment they're using to help Sam cheat at chess; Frasier asks if he works in law enforcement or intelligence, and Pete explains, "My wife cheats a lot."

Anonymous said...

And of course Paul was one of the two Bob's in "Office Space" (among other roles...)

Jerry said...

MUST make a mention of Paul Willson's most prominent role - as a regular - as Leonard Smith, the multifaceted condo-pres on "It's Garry Shandling's Show". Fantastic stuff.

(Fave eps: 'Leonard's Veas Wedding" - pts 1 &2, w/ Joy Behar (!) as the vision of his late wife; and "Leonard Gets Metaphysical"

coake said...

I remember probably my favorite bit from Cheers was when the regulars were trying to see if they could gross out Norm to the point that he couldn't drink beer. My memory is that they were suggesting things like "food from an autopsy" and "meatloaf with an abscess", but the thing that finally got to Norm was when soemone said Paul just called, he just got out of the shower and he's toweling himself off. Norm slowly pushed away the beer.

"Meatloaf with an abscess" remains one of my all time favorite gross out lines.

Diogo said...

speaking of Cheers, it's a schame that they aparently stopped releasing DVDs after season 8, specially considering that the Frasier sets are almost complete, with only 1 season left to release. Cheers has 3 to be released yet. On this age, where every piece of Crap gets released on DVD AND even gets a full season set (insert cruel "Full House joke) it's kind of strange that Cheers is still incomplete, AND that the sets come without skimpy to zero special features.

Dan Kelley said...

As another reader commented, I first really became aware of Paul Wilson with Gary Shandling's cable-to-Fox program.

He's wonderful in every role I've seen him....always by surprise.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of bit parts, Ken, how the heck did Herb Caen wind up with a bit part as a floral delivery man on one show? Inside joke, perhaps? Caen would not have been well known to anyone outside San Francisco, and not terribly recognizable as he was a newspaper columnist.

Love the bit, though...
Carla: Aren't you a little old to be delivering flowers?
Caen: My father's day off.

ajmilner said...

I heard Paul Willson on a podcast a while back. He claimed that when he showed up to the Tonight Show taping the night of the CHEERS finale (at the Bull & Finch in Boston, where everybody got a little too tipsy), the security guys didn't recognize him and tossed him out. Story of Paul (the character)'s life.

Diogo said...


Being a Cheers trivia fan, I was wondering if you could tell us a bit more about your tenure on the show.

for example, I'm watching my DVD collections, and it appears that you and your partner David Isaacs are credited with several scripts through the first 3 seasons, but than in season 4 you both aren't credited with neither writting nor producing the show. as you both obviously returned later, I was wondering why did you temporarily quit (?) the show.

other question I have. It seems that the "written by" credits nowadays reflect an equal amount of credits to every writter on staff, because they are all working on all the scripts. was it like that back than, too?

I noticed that there are some writers that are only credited with one show, like, for example Michael J Weithorn (co creator of the king of queens) and Jim Parker ("Bar Bet", which co-stars Krammer from Seinfeld). were they on staff, or was that outside assignments?

the end of season 3 is messy in many ways. not only because Coach was never out of there completely, but there were a couple of those, where neither he nor Diane were featured (except for those "travelling" quick scenes), and, forgive me for saying this, the show seemed strange, like if someone quickly cut-pasted together scenes, that, although they wew funny, relied heavily on the guest cast, Particularly on "The Bartender's tale", and "the belles of St. Cletes", if you remember those.

also, how the hell did you get Shelley Long inside that thing on the floor, when she was fixing the air conditioner?

I don't know if you did this Already on previous posts, but was there any storyline that you wanted to do, but didn't get in there because it was too radical or sensitive for the times?

I noticed also that the show at the beginning tried a little more hard to include sensitive topics like being gay in sports, Sam's drinking problem, and particularly in the Rebecca years, the show became more like a sitcom, than a situation-drama, which is what it seemed with Diane. It was never a drama, but it had more dramatic moments. do you agree? and if so, why was that direction taken?

Also, who made the decision to have the Coach "On Holiday", when it must have been well publicised the actor had died? I, for one would have liked an episode that dealt with his departure better, instead of some quick lines at the beginning of the next season.

I'm sorry if I'm being a pest, I'm just a big fan.

some guy said...

I'm sorry if this is a horribly newbie question, but what does "went up on the line" mean? Thanks

John S said...

"Went up on a line" is forgetting a line. It is sort of a jargonny way of saying something pretty simple, isn't it?

Ken, there was a handsome Italian-looking guy who was usually sitting by a blonde Irish-looking guy in the bar that I remember. His mom and dad had a pizza parlor in Burlington Massachusetts that I used to regularly patronize. It was lined with autographed pictures of their son with stars from CHEERS and other shows he had appeared on, including FULL HOUSE, I believe. All of the CHEERS regulars wrote nice messages to Steve's folks on their pictures. These two guys would have one line each in almost every episode, usually setting up a joke for Cliff or Norm. They were on very regularly, then they disappeared for a long while.

But on the very last episode, there they were! It was nice.

I am trying to remember Steve's last name. Without cheating and using Google or So far, I can't. He also played on the Hollywood Hockey Team, who played a lot of games for charity...

Chris said...

The old drunk's best line closed one of my favorite episodes:

"DANCE, Mailman!!"

Anonymous said...

I was glad to see that the longest serving "regulars," Alan Tim and Steve, were all in the series finale and all had lines. But, without a doubt, Paul had the funniest moment of the finale: "I missed something, didn't I?"

Alan had an awful lot of dialogue in "Those Lips, Those Ice" when he is giving advice to Carla on how to treat Eddie.

Hey, Ken, what with Sep. 30, being the 25th anniversary of Cheers premiere, I hope you will have a special blog for the occasion.

Cheered Up said...

I bought the entire 11 years of cheers DVD collection, and almost every night my wife and I watch 3-4episodes. What fun!!

Fred's Brim said...

"Pretty weenie..."
Just watched the Bar Wars episode for the first time in years and realized it may be my favorite episode. Start to finish, its great lines and gags made me laugh as hard as I did when I saw it new. Not all Cheers episodes have held up like that.

My dad and I would laugh and laugh at Al and Phil and especially Paul. His "guess who climbed to the top of Mount Paulie" line is still a favorite.

Boswell said...

There is a middle-aged woman, attractive & usually business attired that is probably in more Cheers eps than any other extra. She never spoke a single line but she is sometimes involved in the play. When Sam is tracking Rebecca in the Women's bathroom to see if she's smoking I think he asks this actress to go into the bathroom & tell him what Rebecca's doing & she hits Sam with her purse when he explains their bet (If Rebecca smokes she will go to bed with Sam). Who is this woman!! Been wondering for years & the Cheers IMDB board has never been able to find out. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I haven't noticed the attractive woman mentioned by Boswell, but, as I'm watching Cheers for the first time (in 2011: can you believe it?), I have noticed a distinguished blondish man who is pretty much always in the bar. He's one of the non-speaking extras, or at least he hasn't had a single line to deliver as of season 8. If you own the 8th season on DVD, you can see this man clearly about 3'30" into the episode "Severe Crane Damage" (ep. 18), when Frasier and Lilith enter Cheers and Carla dishes one of her caustic jokes on Lilith: the man is sitting behind Carla, to the left of an older gent who is covered by Carla. The shot of Carla is up close: can't miss him. As far as I can tell, this guy pops up pretty much in every episode, but not having any lines he is never credited. Not being able to give a name to the face is driving me insane. Anyone knows? Is he, by any chance, the bar patron mentioned in the post who ended up as an extra?

Rattletrap said...

I'm also intrigued by the mystery of the attractive blonde woman mentioned by Boswell. In fact, his comment is the first time I've seen anyone else raise the question. Which seems odd in that her appearances are so common. Actually, I'm fairly sure I've seen her on at least one episode of Frasier, too.

Any new research?

MWillis27 said...

I have always wondered who that woman is. She is in almost every episode of cheers and in many frasier episodes in the cafe or at the radio station in the background.

Fr. Scott Russell said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who noticed and has wondered about this woman in "Cheers" and "Frasier"! I figured she might be connected to someone on the show -- wife? mother? She's otherwise unaccounted for, but there she is! I'd love to know more!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for mentioning this older woman as well. She's always there, at the bar, at Rebecca's wedding to Robin, at Cafe Nervosa, at KACL. She appears in the first season of "Cheers" and goes all the way to the final season of "Frasier". That's 22 seasons in total! She deserves some sort of recognition>