Saturday, October 06, 2012

The CHEERS names not everyone knows

CHEERS is 30 years old.  Tonight there is a reunion party for those of us honored enough to be part of the show.  Will let you know how it goes.  I wonder if anyone besides me will not have aged in all that time.  Anyway, you all know the stars.  But what about the others who populated the bar?  I thought today I'd recognize them so the next time you watch you will too.
 

First up is Al Rosen -- the old rummy.  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.

22 comments:

An (is my actual name) said...

Thanks for the insights on the peanut gallery. They always added so much to the show. I'll have to look for your dad now.

I hope you'll regale us with lots of stories (and dare we hope, pictures?) from the shindig. You're attending for all of us by proxy! Have lots of fun.

Brian said...

Great stuff, Ken. I've recently decided to rewatch the series and I'm amazed how fully formed it was from the beginning. Some shows end up very far from where they began, but Cheers was Cheers right from the beginning. Congrats to you and everyone else on the anniversary. It's a blessing that you can all get together for a reunion like that. Have a great time!

Max Clarke said...

While Al said "Sinatra!" and is best remembered for that, I'll always think of him as the man who kept Woody in Boston.

The episode was Cheers: The Motion Picture. Woody's parents want him to leave Boston and return to Indiana. They think the big city is no place for him. The Cheers regulars make a beautifully bad movie about Boston and Cheers. Diane mails her edited version of the movie to Woody's family, but it doesn't work. Woody gets the phone call: he has to leave Cheers and return to Hanover.

Woody has just left the bar after saying goodbye to everyone, when a phone call from his Dad saves the day. Woody can stay in Boston.

Nobody can believe that Woody's dad would have changed his mind. He threw Diane's movie into the thresher, said it was derivative of Goddard. So, what made the father change his mind?

Somebody sent an anonymous note to the Boyd farm, "Let your son choose his path and it will always lead back to you."

Woody asks everybody in the bar if they wrote the note. He really wants to thank him. Nobody speaks up, and Woody figures the note will always be anonymous.

Finally, Al gets up to leave Cheers and he calls back to Woody, "Don't mention it, kid."

Nice moment.

Kirk said...

My favorite Paul moment is the episode where Rebecca is supposed to marry Robin Colcord. She's having second thoughts, and needs somebody to talk to. Paul volunteers. Rebecca immediately turns him away. Paul's response? It won't seem funny if you read it (because, essentially, it's not a one-liner), but only if you hear it come out of his mouth: "I can't help somebody if they won't help themself."

@Max Clarke--I also always think of that episode when Al is mentioned.

Anthony Strand said...

And Mrs. Littlefield was played Elaine Stritch, right? Who ended up on NBC decades later in a recurring role as Jack's mom on 30 Rock.

Breadbaker said...

Paul is currently doing Safeco commercials here in Seattle, where he rarely says a word but conveys so much. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-kBA-zZZG8

pumpkinhead said...

The quote is actually "I can't help somebody who doesn't want to be helped."

mic said...

A friend of ours was at a table in the background in lots of episodes. She had long red hair. Whenever I caught an episode I'd be so busy looking for her that I'd miss whatever was happening in the foreground.

Anonymous said...

You better post some pics of this party!!!

Daniel said...

What about Peter Schreiner? He was in about 25 episodes. He now works as a counselor at Ventura County Mental health.

Jeffro said...

SINATRA!

Cap'n Bob said...

I remember seeing a tabloid headline years ago claiming the staff and cast of Cheers had ignored one of their stars who'd gotten sick and died. That star was Al Rosen. Nothing like journalistic integrity.

Jeffro said...

By the way, I never knew that wrestling TVs was a sport!

cadavra said...

The "can't help someone" quote was originally spoken by Angie Dickinson in Howard Hawks' indispensable RIO BRAVO.

Johnny Walker said...

Have fun! I hope you took some pictures :)

I did the Paramount studio tour the other day, and they stopped to show us the hand prints that a "merry" Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson wrote into some wet cement on the lot. Did I mention they were butt naked? Or so the story goes. Apparently Harrelson is pretty proud of it.

I'll post the picture of the prints when I get a moment.

Jeffro said...

One last thing:

My favorite Al moment was in "The Mail Goes to Jail" (Season 3). It's the episode where Diane gets stuck in the furnace vent. At one point Carla sells Al a kiss to Diane while she's still trapped. I don't know what it is about it, but I bust a gut every time I see that shot of Al from Diane's perspective, saying "pucker-up, baby!"

Ellie said...

Who was the one who looked something like Mario Lopez, was on for a few seasons (sat near Norm and Cliff) and often had a line or two? He was a cutie. :)

Robert Pierce said...

So, I've got a Friday question.

I think I might have asked this before, but was there a reason why Al, Paul and a bunch of the other barflies had the same first names as their characters? Was it just easier or was it a writing technique?

Brian Phillips said...

I was in the audience one night and two of the people onstage were Bernadette Birkett(George Wendt's wife), a real Cheers name not many know because her one "appearance" on the show was as the mostly unseen wife of Norm, Vera, albeit, with her face covered in pie, so you still didn't really see her. Birkett, a former member of Second City was quite funny.

The other person that I recall that night was Paul Willson who was not only funny, but in a sketch that the cast had obviously prepared in advance by asking the audience a question that usually gets the same response, Willson was seen onstage playing the violin, which I had never seen him do on TV.

Allison Curley said...

My mom was an extra on Season 10, episode 21 ("Take me out of the ball game"). I would love to get some kind of memorabilia for her, like a photo, script, etc. from the episode. Anyone know where I could find something like that? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I recently saw this cartoon about a "Pete the busdriver", is this based on a real character, perhaps Peter Schreiner (Seasons 5–11)?

cheers roleplaying game character sheet

SkaTP said...

Why did Alan & Steve disappear for seasons 9-10? They were such series barfly 'lifers,' that it seems odd. I'm rewatching full series for first time since original run, so I see from Cheers Wiki that they are credited again in season 11. Wondering why after all that time, they were dropped, then brought back.