Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Was Lucy almost on CHEERS?

When Rhea Perlman was interviewed by Andy Cohen a listener asked about a rumor that Lucille Ball was in the running to play Diane Chambers’ mother. Rhea didn’t know anything about it.

I was there.

I do.

And the story is sort of true.

This was towards the end of season one.

We had heard from someone that Lucy was a fan of the show. We were preparing an episode featuring Diane’s mom. David Angell wrote the script. So some calls were made and the Charles Brothers and Jim Burrows were invited to lunch at Lucy’s house in Beverly Hills.

Once they arrived they learned that Lucy had only “heard” it was a good show. She had never actually seen it. Nor did she have any interest in guesting on a (then low rated) sitcom. So they had an awkward lunch and that was that.

Glynis Johns (who God bless her is 95) got the part and was wonderful.

And now you know the rest of the story.


Frank Beans said...

If this is the episode I'm thinking of, Diane and Sam were going to get "married" in the bar by a certain time in order for Diane to inherit her father's money as a condition in the will. They didn't end up going through with it, I don't recall why. I'm not even sure that kind of stipulation could even be held legally binding, but oh well.

I don't think her mother ever was on after that, but her manservant "Boggs" was on at least once later, played hilariously.

Peter said...

Not the most diplomatic response from Rhea Perlman regarding Shelly Long. She could have just said no, there were no problems. By saying "there was a little bit of that", it seems there's still some lingering feelings on the matter, on her part anyway.

Gary said...

Considering all the stories about Lucy needing to run every aspect of a show and directing fellow actors with their parts, that would have been one interesting week if she had agreed to the Cheers role. Ken, I'm guessing you would have gotten at least one juicy post for your blog reminiscing about that week.

Then again maybe not, since you seldom name names when referring to difficult people in the business.(Will we ever see a post about your working with Mary Tyler Moore? We're not getting any younger!)

Amos Hart said...

Rhea Perlman...ugh...I once had a bizarre and unpleasant encounter with her. I was attending a performance of CHICAGO THE MUSICAL in New York and Rhea Perlman was there. I was sitting in an aisle seat and she walked passed me to the first row, crossed the front row to the center aisle, and walked up the center aisle. She did this several times and, at one point, two little girls noticed her and said hello to her as she walked past them. She turned around, sneered at them, and kept walking.

At the end of the show, there was a standing ovation and then the orchestra played exit music. We all applauded and as I turned to exit my row and make my way up the aisle, I discovered that Rhea Perlman was standing to my left and slightly ahead of me. As we all started to make our way up the aisle, there was a jam and we weren't moving. We were all a bit crowded together and Rhea was at this point on my right. I felt that I was standing a bit too close to her so I turned toward her and smiled apologetically, the way people do when they're crowded together. I did not touch her or speak to her. She reacted by scowling at me and then dramatically whipping her head around in a very theatrical "HOW DARE YOU LOOK AT ME!" gesture. I was taken aback because, as I wrote, I did not speak to her or touch her. Things started moving again and as we all made our way up the aisle, I noticed that Rhea Perlman kept her head turned away from me the entire time.

Anonymous said...

This "awkward lunch" sounds like a great situation for some comedy.


Joseph Scarbrough said...

Another new Friday question:

I've noticed a lot of shows and movies prior to the 1960s or so often used Roman numerals for their copyright stamps . . . actually, I've noticed this all my life, because as a kid, I never understood what all of those Ms, Xs, Vs, Is, and other "letters" were meant to be (which is why people shouldn't be upset American schools aren't teaching Arabic numerals, since they never even taught Roman numerals either). By the late 60s/early 70s, it did seem as though there was a very gradual shift from using Roman numerals to just using Western numbers, which is more the case in recent years. Was there ever some kind of specific reason, regulation, or rule about the use of Roman numerals way back when, or even why this practice was gradually phased out?

Amanda said...

It was that her mother would get to keep her father's fortune if she was able to get Diane married 10 years to the day after he died. Diane was never an heiress to any of the money (and yet managed to stay in college somehow)
Sam and Diane didn't go through with it because they ended up fighting about him staring at a woman when they were about to say their vows, ha.

By Ken Levine said...


I'm sorry you had a bad experience with Rhea. I can tell you she's a wonderful kind person. I've seen her in many public situations and her behavior was always lovely. She's very shy so that might have been a factor, but knowing her as well as I do, I have to wonder, are you sure it was her?

johnathonmarcelo said...
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johnathonmarcelo said...
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Arthur Mee said...

Joseph Scarborough: You've always needed to but a copyright notice, including the date, on a film in order to protect it. Famously, the distributor of the film Night Of The Living Dead forgot to do this, so that film is now in the public domain.

The Roman numerals thing was instituted because -- just like you -- a lot of people couldn't decipher them. Why was it desirable to have a date that was indecipherable to the general public? Well, in the days when films might travel a circuit for a few years, it allowed a film to have a longer shelf life. If you saw a film that was dated a few years ago, you knew instantly you were getting stuck with old material ... but if it was dated MCMXLVIII, you weren't sure.

Gradually, opyright notices became far less prominent, being buried in longer and longer credit sequences (which were also relagated to the end of the film and not the beginning). So the whole thing became less of an issue, and Roman numerals were not used as much.

Mike said...

Lucille Ball was an incredible performer in her time. But by the 1980s, her memory was failing her and she relied on cue cards, resulting in the loss of her incredible timing. And she lost the inflection in her voice, because it had been damaged by years of smoking, drinking, and shouting her lines.

I’m glad we didn’t see her as Diane’s mother. She would have been miscast and distracting.

Glynis Johns actually worked for Lucy when she did her short-lived, eponymous series for Desilu in the early 60s.

Amos Hart said...


It was definitely Rhea Perlman.

I don't believe in approaching public figures, so when I found myself standing so close to her, I was concerned that she would feel that I was encroaching on her personal space. Hence my looking at her. Who knows? Perhaps she misinterpreted what I intended to be a conciliatory gesture as an act of aggression. Or perhaps she was doing a "bit". (Her reaction was rather melodramatic...)

In any event, I'll take your word that she is a kind person. Thanks for responding!

Anonymous said...

The way people talk about others says a lot about the speakers.
Shelley has never ever made any negative comment anywhere about anybody.
She always managed to only say nice things about everybody she ever had anything to do with. Not a bad word from her about Bette Midler, who said working with Shelley was tough. When an interviewer pushed her to mention something about their differences, Shelley mentioned the things they had in common.
Not a bad comment from Shelley about Kelsey Grammer or Rhea Perlman who have definately NOT always been neutral or positive in their comments or their "truths" about Shelley.
Shelley has class and style and must be a very decent, good, kind and nice person.