The actor Ted Danson turns 70

Ted Danson knew very little about baseball and was as far from a Lothario as one could be.

Capt. Amy Slinker, commander of the Alaska Army National Guard’s 134th Public Affairs Detachmen, poses for a photo with Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson during a meet and greet event held Nov. 6, 2010. Photo by Maj. Guy Hayes, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs Office.
There’s a cover story about Ted Danson in AARP, The Magazine, with a coquettish tease about him revealing his age. Interestingly, it states that, while his career may have hit a peak with the May 20, 1993 final episode of the TV show Cheers, his personal life was “approaching a nadir.”

“He had suffered through a costly divorce, his highly publicized 18-month relationship with Whoopi Goldberg was ending, and he found himself at the center of [a] controversy over his notorious appearance in blackface at a Friars Club roast.”

His life turned around when he met actress Mary Steenbergen, and hers as well. He stopped playing the carousing lightweight of Cheers and the movie Three Men and a Baby. I’m not the only one who thinks bartender Sam Malone was written more stupidly over the 11 years of Cheers.

After being in dramas such as Damages and CSI, Danson’s back in a comedy, The Good Place, which is, or not, about heaven. He notes, “Professional athletes are always in rehab and laying hurt. That’s me at 70. I have to work harder to memorize my lines. Same with my body – I have to work a little harder, but so what?”

As a regular reader of Ken Levine’s blog, I’m amazed how often the former writer of Cheers has mentioned Ted Danson, and always in a positive light. On December 24, in listing his blessings, Levine noted which actors were a pleasure to work with and Danson tops the roster.

Guest blogger Dave Hackel explained how Danson took the job on Becker, the misanthrope who was the opposite of Sam Malone.

Danson twice has played characters distant from his real personality. “Sam Malone was a former athlete and womanizer. Ted knew very little about baseball and was as far from a Lothario as one could be. It actually took him a while that first year to get into a groove because he was so the opposite of Sam. And then as Becker. Ted is the world’s nicest guy playing a disagreeable crank.”

Also, listen to Episode 50 of Levine’s podcast for an Behind The Scenes Cheers Episode Commentary, naturally mentioning Ted Danson throughout.