One person a lot of sitcom actors can look to for their inspiration, before starting their roles, is Ted Danson. Most famous for his incredible eleven-year starring role as Sam Malone on the American sitcom ‘Cheers,’ Ted Danson has left a lot for the youngsters to learn about how to play the perfect sitcom character. Whether it be his rugged charm or his flirtatious ways, Sam Malone was loved all over the country. The show was so popular it even led to the spin-off series ‘Frasier’ after the season finale, which ran for a further eleven years! The show had nearly every character of the original show appear as a cameo to continue the nations’ love of the characters.
So how much do we know about the man behind the bar? Delving into the life story of Ted Danson leads down some twisting, turning roads, with shocking stories, as well as unknown appearances that even the most die-hard fan may not know. Spanning over a 42-year career, Ted Danson has had plenty of notches to add to his belt over the years, and with many still being added to date, it looks as though the now 69-year old has no intention of slowing down. From his scandalous marriages to the environmental causes he continues to fight for, there is plenty more to Ted Danson than initially meets the eye.
The beginning years
Edward Bridge ‘Ted’ Danson III was born December 29, 1947, to parents Jessica Danson and Edward Bridge Danson. Edward Danson Sr was working as a museum director, as well as an archaeologist when Ted was born. Originally from San Diego, California, Danson was raised in Arizona. He was the younger sibling of older sister Jan Haury, completing this little family of four. In 1961 Danson found himself attending the Kent School, where he would go on to become a basketball star.
Saving the planet
Due to being introduced to a ‘game’ referred to by his friend Bill Breed (the manager of the geology section at the Museum of North Arizona at the time), as ‘billboarding,’ Danson became very environmentally aware at 12-years old. Breed introduced Danson and his friend Marc Gaede to this so-called game, where they would cut down advertising signs with an ax and a saw. The threesome ended up destroying well over 300 of the outdoor advertising signs.
Impressing a girl
During 1966, Danson enrolled at Stanford University where he began to take an interest in studying drama, which was not at all related to his drama-studying and drama-enthusiast girlfriend at the time (cough cough). He later went on to transfer to the Carnegie Mellon University where he completed his ‘Bachelor of Fine Arts’ degree specializing in drama. Danson graduated in 1972 and found himself thrown into the big wide world; brand new acting degree in hand.
A brief marriage
Between 1970 and 1975 Danson found himself involved in his first marriage to Randall Gosch. Born April 30, 1950, Gosch was an aspiring actress at the time. The couple had met the previous year and had gone on to get married quite quickly. However, it wasn’t meant to be as the couple ended up divorcing in 1975 after having been married for just four and a half years. They had no children together and ended up going their separate ways, quite amicably, after the divorce.
The early stages of the career
Danson’s early television acting career began in 1975 with his role on ‘Somerset,’ the daytime soap. He was on the show for just a year, before moving on to his next television performance. The next year Danson would find himself scrubbing up to play his part as a doctor on ‘The Doctors’, another daytime soap opera. It was at this time he would find himself appearing in a number of commercials allowing Danson to become the unmistakable ‘Aramis Man’ for Estee Lauder.
The television flops
While riding the high at the beginning of his career, as well as being able to boast the title of unmistakable fragrance model, Danson did have some troubles with his career. In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, he would, unfortunately, be involved in some television movie flops. His roles in ‘The Women’s Room’ and ‘Our Family Business’ would mean that this young, budding actor had some climbing to do to get out of his temporary slump.
Not all bad
The late ‘70s weren’t all bad for Danson though as it brought about his second marriage to producer wife, Casey Coates. The couple would go on to have their first daughter Kate together, but Coates ended up suffering from a stroke. Danson would spend the next few years caring for her and ensuring she made a recovery. The couple later went on to adopt their second child Alexis. During this time Danson went on to make regular guest appearances on television shows.
Turning up the heat
1981 saw Danson in his most acclaimed role during this time. The provocative film ’Body Heat’ was released, seeing Danson work alongside William Hurt and Kathleen Turner. The film would be only the beginning though as the following year Danson would land the role as Sam Malone, the bartending former baseball player, and well-known womanizer, in ‘Cheers.’ While the show went on to have great success, after the initial season ‘Cheers’ ended up finishing last in the ratings.
Although the first season didn’t go as planned, the critics loved it, and the ratings began to climb up and up with each season. In 1986 the show found itself as one of the top ten TV shows in the US – quite an accolade! Over the show’s eleven seasons Danson managed to win two Emmys, as well as two Golden Globe Awards for his performances. The finale was aired on May 20, 1993, and won the title of the second most-watched finale in the history of television at the time.
Continuing with the success
Sam Malone, Danson’s character, wasn’t just featuring on his own television show. He also made cameo appearances in various other shows over the years, including ‘Frasier’ (a spin-off from ‘Cheers’), ‘The Simpsons’ and on ‘The Jim Henson Hour.’ Even after the show’s finale had aired, the award titles were still rolling in years later. In 2002 ‘Cheers’ managed to get onto Time Magazine’s, and TV Guide’s greatest shows of all time lists, hitting number 18 on the latter.
Although Danson was best known for his comedy, 1984 saw him don a more serious role in the television film ‘Something About Amelia.’ The drama has a deep storyline based on true events, involving the devastating aftermath for the Bennett family following some traumatic events that happen to Amelia. The role of Steven Bennett (the father), that Danson played on the show earned him another Golden Globe Award for ‘Best Actor in a Mini-Series.’ It would be a few years until Danson was seen on the screen again.
Three Men and a Star
A few years following the drama, Danson found himself starring in the first in the comedy franchise ‘Three Men and a Baby’ in 1987. The movie was the biggest hit at the American box office of the year, bringing in $170 million in the U.S. alone! Three years later, in 1990, ‘Three Men and a Little Lady’ was released following on from the previous hit. The movie continued on the story and added to Danson’s comedy reputation with his role as Jack Holden.
Whoopie-ing his butt
1993 saw Danson’s world come to a very abrupt halt. The year before, a very public affair between Ted Danson and comedian Whoopi Goldberg began after they worked together on the ‘Made in America’ film. The relationship eventually led to Danson’s divorce from then-wife Casey Coates and went down as one of the most expensive divorces in Hollywood history. The divorce made it into the top 30 of all time list, and ended up costing Danson $30 million altogether!
Setting the movie scene
Goldberg and Danson had initially met on the set of ‘The Arsenio Hall Show’ towards the end of 1988. Danson said he was immediately attracted to Goldberg, but the two only became friends. After working together co-hosting the video guide ‘Help Save Planet Earth,’ the couple grew even closer. It was in 1992 that the pair became official and found themselves all over the newspapers and gossip magazines! It would be hard to stay out of the headlines for the pair, but would it be a happy ending?
Not without controversies
While together, Danson appeared at a ‘Friars Club Comedy Roast.’ The club is known for hosting risque roasts of celebrities in attendance, but it is taken in jest. Danson, however, took the roast a step too far after turning up dressed inappropriately and deemed to be acting racist with his makeup and outfit choice, as well as his selection of words. Goldberg defended the skit saying she had written a lot of the content herself, but the pair received a lot of backlash for the performance.
The price tag
November 5, 1993, saw Ted Danson and Whoopi Goldberg issue a statement confirming that they had officially split. After only a year together, the price tag of being with Goldberg for such a short period of time seemed to be extremely high for Danson; but they do say you can’t put a price on love after all! It wouldn’t be long, however, before he found himself diving headfirst to his next media covered relationship.
Third time’s the charm
With two divorces under his belt, Danson found himself getting wed for the third time on October 7, 1995. New wife Mary Steenburgen, born February 8, 1953, is an American actress best known for her roles in ‘Melvin and Howard’, ‘Back to the Future III,’ and more recently in comedy films such as ‘Step Brothers’ and ‘Four Christmases.’ Steenburgen also identifies as an active humanitarian, working with different groups on human rights issues to environmental issues.
A true gentleman
Following the stint as the womanizing Sam Malone, it appears that Danson really has changed his on screen and in life persona. Since his marriage, Danson seems to have been playing more family-man roles rather than the flirtatious men we are used to seeing him act so well. He has also (thankfully) remained faithful to his third wife, and it looks as though we could be seeing a changed man. Perhaps he learned his lesson from the Goldberg incident!
Returning to the little screen
Danson couldn’t keep off the small screen as the late ‘90s saw his return to television acting. In 1996 he was in ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ when it was made as a mini-series. Danson also bagged a role on the short-lived ‘Ink’ enabling him to work alongside his wife Steenburgen. His biggest role in these years though was playing the role of Dr. John Becker on the show ‘Becker,’ a sitcom following the life of the doctor and how he copes with his patients at his practice.
Finding smaller roles
Before making another breakthrough in his acting career, Danson would find himself with plenty of minor characters to keep him busy over the next few years. These included smaller roles in ‘Veronica’s Closet,’ ‘Search for Atlantis’ where he played himself in a television film, and another TV movie ‘Living with the Dead.’ While they weren’t the biggest roles of his career, Danson was able to keep in practice and busy during these years. Plus, who knows what they may eventually lead to?
At the beginning of the decade, Danson seemed to be determined to make a comeback after some time working in smaller roles and projects. He returned to amaze critics in the legal drama ‘Damages,’ where he would be playing a pleasant yet deceitful businessman opposite actor Glenn Close. This was what drew Danson to the role, being keen to play alongside Glenn Close. He would continue to play the role until 2010.
Couldn’t keep away from the comedy
After so many years away from acting in comedy roles, it comes as no surprise that Danson made his return to the genre in 2009 by starring in the sitcom ‘Bored to Death,’ aired on HBO. The show saw Danson working alongside Jason Schwartzman, Zach Galifianakis, and Heather Burns, but it unfortunately went on to be canceled on December 20, 2011. Reviewers reported they thought Danson was the real star of the show and would often steal the spotlight from the other actors.
A change of pace
In July 2011, Danson made way in a whole new role for him to explore. Starring in ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,’ the role of D.B. Russell would give Danson a chance to expand his repertoire even further during his time on the police drama show. Danson found himself playing a veteran crime scene investigator, and continued to be on the show until the character departed during a season finale in September 2015.
Picking up after the finale
After finishing his time on the original ‘CSI,’ Danson moved his way over to the third spin-off for the show ‘CSI: Cyber.’ The actor reprised his D.B. Russell character and made his entrance in the second season, much to the excitement of Danson fans. The show was following cyber crimes rather than real life crime scenes and was aired on CBS. ‘Cyber’ fell prey to mixed reviews, however, and was said to have impressive talent without adding anything new to the already established franchise. On May 12, 2016, the show got canceled.
In the last few years, Danson appears to be still going strong with his acting. In 2015 he landed one of the starring roles in television series of ‘Fargo’ for its second season, where he would play Sheriff Hank Larsson. His ‘CSI’ acting skillset would be put to good use here as Danson would be investigating a triple homicide in the town. The series was set in 1979 and takes place before any of the events of the ‘Fargo’ movie… A prequel, if you like!
A Good Place to be
The sitcom ‘The Good Place’ first aired September 19, 2016, and starred Danson in his latest television role. Back to his comedy roots, he plays Michael, a character that has architected the Good Place, where he sends main characters to live out their afterlife. However, in true Danson style, there are some twists that we will try and keep unspoiled. The show has received positive reviews and a good reception for its individuality; it certainly looks set to be another hit for Danson!
Continuing to care for the planet
Over the years, Danson has continued to care for the environment and is a keen campaigner. In the 1980s, Danson became a contributing founder of ‘American Oceans Campaigns’ that later on went to merge with ‘Oceana,’ in 2001. His contributions were due to his concern with the mess the world’s oceans were in. While continuing to be a board member to date, Danson also co-authored a book titled ‘Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans And What We Can Do To Save Them,’ to educate people on the subject.
For all of his hard work over his career, Danson has managed to earn himself plenty of awards. These include the Golden Globes for ‘Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film,’ and two ‘Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy,’ as well as ‘Funniest Male Performer in a Television Series’ and ‘Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.’ It’s no wonder, with his repertoire, that Danson managed to win himself the plethora of titles we imagine are clogging up his bathroom shelves.
Spilling the beans
While recording ‘The Good Place,’ it appears as though Danson couldn’t keep his mouth shut on a relatively big topic. Co-star Kristen Bell has been reported as saying that she believes Danson has given away spoilers about the ending to close friends. She added that she was approached by mutual friends of the two who commented on how good the ending was to the show. The ending was meant to be kept a complete secret, but Danson is adamant that he didn’t ruin anything… Who’s fooling who?!