Do you miss that iconic TV series about the neighborhood bar where everyone knows your name? Us too. Let’s raise a glass to Cheers by reveling in some of the show’s curious behind the scenes truths.
1. Cheers was nearly cancelled in its first season.
It would go on to become wildly popular, frequently making the top 10 most watched shows in America. But in season one it was only by the grace of Brandon Tartikoff, president of NBC’s entertainment division, that the series, which ranked 74th out of 77 in 1982, made it to its second season.
2. In 11 seasons, Cheers won 77 awards.
This included six Golden Globes, and 28 Emmy Awards. Cheers also garnered a record-breaking total of 117 Emmy nominations, including a nod for Outstanding Comedy Series for each of its seasons.
3. The inspiration for Sam and Diane were Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.
Cheers writer-director James Burrows told The New York Times that he and the show’s creators, Glen and Les Charles, wanted the show’s central romantic relationship to have the same kind of class conflict and sizzling chemistry of the iconic screen couple. ”She is uptown, he is downtown,” he succinctly explained.
4. Norm and Cliff weren’t in the original Cheers concept.
The lovable barfly and trivia-obsessed postman eventually became regulars on the show. However, in the first script the series focused solely on four employees of the titular bar, not its patrons.
5. Frasier was introduced as a romantic rival of Sam’s.
Kelsey Grammer came into the show during its third season as a love interest of Dian Chambers (Shelley Long). In season fourth, Diane left Frasier at the altar. Yet the snarky psychiatrist returned to Cheers, becoming a regular at the bar and on the series. And eventually the subject of his own spin-off, Frasier.
6. The role of Dr. Frasier Crane was written for John Lithgow.
Aside from TV movies, Lithgow had largely avoid television acting at this point. He declined the offer to pursue his movie career, and went on to earn back to back Academy Award nominations in 1983 and 1984 for The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment.
7. Coach outlived the actor who played him.
Actor Nicholas Colasanto suffered from a heart condition that grew worse as the series went on. To accommodate for Shelley Long’s pregnancy, Cheers‘ season three finale was shot early on, which meant Coach was included in its shoot. As fate would have it, the finale aired in May of 1985, three months after Colasanto passed away.
8. Cheers fearlessly took on taboo topics.
“The Boys in the Bar” aired on January 27th, 1983, and centered on Sam learning that one of his old friends is gay. Addiction was an issue that recurred on the series, be it Frasier’s drinking in “The Triangle” or Woody’s gambling in “Call Me Irresponsible.
9. Sam nearly had an HIV scare.
Continuing in the theme of taboo topics, the show’s writers penned a cliffhanger episode that had Sam discover an old girlfriend had been diagnosed HIV positive. But the Writers Guild of America strike of 1988 shut down production, and this episode was never shot.
10. The Cheers bar design was purchased for $1.
Glen Charles wanted to base his fictional bar on the real Boston bar Bull & Finch Pub. Tom Kershaw charged him a buck to take reference photos of the exterior and interior. The real-life bar has since undergone a makeover. Now called Cheers, it’s a place of pilgrimage for many fans of the series.