“Acting is pretending that you’re not pretending when you’re actually pretending.” Ted Danson
For many TV viewers, actor Ted Danson is identified with Sam Malone, the witty and alluring bartender, in the highly praised sitcom “Cheers” (1982-1993). He picked up two Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and an American Comedy Award, as well as nine Emmy and six Golden Globe nominations for his role. Moving to the drama genre, the versatile actor presented an impressive portrayal as a father molesting his own daughter in Something about Amelia (1984, TV) and took home a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination. Still on the small screen, Danson offered captivating acting in the adaptation of Gulliver’s Travel (1996, carried out the title role), the sitcom “Becker” (1998-2004, earned a Golden Globe nomination for his titular turn), Our Fathers (2005, played lawyer Mitchell Garabedian) and Knights of the South Bronx (2005).
Danson, who on November 10, 1999, received a star on the Walk of Fame, created some hullabaloo with his risqué monologue in blackface at a Friars Club Roast, in 1993. The performance was said to be in honor of Whoopi Goldberg and Goldberg herself stated she wrote the skit stage show. The board member of Futures for Children enjoys tap dancing and was once drafted to run for Arizona’s First Congressional District against Republican incumbent Rick Renzi.
Privately, Danson was once married to Randy Danson (1970 - 1975) and Cassandra Coates (Casey Coates-Danson, 1977-1993, had two daughters). He also had a relationship with actress/comedienne Whoopi Goldberg while still married to Coats (from 1992 to 1994). Currently, he is married to Mary Steenburgen and is the father to Steenburgen’s stepchildren.
Childhood and Family:
Ted Danson was born Edward Bridge Danson III on December 29, 1947, in San Diego, California, to Edward B. Danson (prominent museum director and archaeologist) and Jessica Danson. He grew up near a Navajo reservation in Arizona.
In 1961, Ted was sent to the Kent School for Boys in Connecticut, where he became a basketball star. However, he became interested in drama while studying at Stanford University. Two years later, he transferred to the Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh to study Drama. After earning his Bachelor’s degree, Ted pursued an acting career and later went to the Actors Institute, in L.A., to study drama under Dan Fauci.
As for his private life, Ted was once married to Randy Danson (August 1970 - 1975) before marrying designer Cassandra Coates (Casey Coates-Danson) on July 30, 1977. During the birth of their first child, Kate Danson (born on December 24, 1979), Casey suffered a paralyzing stroke, causing Ted to leave acting for six months to nurse her. They also had another daughter, Alexis Danson (born in 1985).
In June 1993, the couple divorced and Ted later married his Pontiac Moon (1994) costar, Mary Steenburgen, on October 7, 1995. He is the stepfather to Mary’s daughter and son.
Ted Danson kicked off his professional acting career in the Off-Broadway play “The Real Inspector Hound” (1972) and then in Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare-in-the-Park production of “The Comedy of Errors.” Quickly debuting on the small screen, he joined the cast of the NBC daytime drama “Somerset” (1975-1976), as Tom Conway.
After relocating to Los Angeles, Danson accepted some screen roles on the big and small screen, including one in the TV film Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge (1979), “The Amazing Spider-Man” (1979, appeared as Major Collings), the miniseries “The French Atlantic Affair” (1979, took an unaccredited part as Dr. Clemens’ assistant) and the crime drama movie The Onion Field (1979, had the supporting role of Detective Ian James Campbell). He also starred as Jack Chenault in the TV thriller Once Upon a Spy (1980) and played cynical D.A. Peter Lowenstein in Lawrence Kasdan’s Body Heat (1981), before becoming the mascot of a cologne and men’s toiletry brand (named “the Aramis Man”) on its print and TV commercials.
Danson immediately came to public notice as Sam Malone, an ex-sports star barman, in the popular NBC sitcom “Cheers” (1982-1993), created by James Burrows, Glen Charles and Les Charles. Thanks to the funny, womanizing, often egotistical, but down-to-earth role, the rising actor won two of the eleven Emmy’s Best Actor nominations he earned. He also took home two Golden Globe awards and 6 Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor, as well as an American Comedy award for Funniest Male Performer. Upon the end of the flourishing series, Danson made $450,000 per week.
Following Stephen King’s Creepshow (1982, as Harry Wentworth) and the TV western movie Cowboy (1983, acted opposite James Brolin), the actor proved his versatility with the leading role of Steven Bennett, a father molesting his own daughter, in the TV drama about incest, Something about Amelia (1984). For his superb acting, Danson won a Golden Globe for Best Actor, as well as was nominated for an Emmy.
He then carried out the turn of Eugene Wilson in Alan Sharp’s Little Treasure (1985) before executive producing the TV action film When the Bough Breaks (1986, also starred as Alex Delaware). Danson also took part in two remakes of French movies: the family comedy Three Men and a Baby (1987, remake of the 1985’s Three Men and a Cradle) and Cousins (1989, remake of the 1975’s Cousin, Cousine).
The co-producer of the NBC sitcom “Down Home” (1990), Danson reprised his role in the sequel Three Men and a Little Lady (1990) and appeared in the special program heralding the Cheers final episode, Cheers: Last Call (1993). The next years, the performer costarred with future wife Mary Steenburgen in the drama Pontiac Moon (1994, executive produced and acted) and the award-winning TV adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s novel, Gulliver’s Travel (1996, accepted a Golden Satellite nomination for his title role).
After guest starring in the sitcom “Pearl” (1997), Danson gained higher eminence with the titular role of a bitter doctor in the sitcom “Becker” (1998-2004), in which his comic portrayal earned a Golden Globe, a Golden Satellite and a TV Guide nomination. It was ensued by his reunion with director Lawrence Kasdan in the romantic drama Mumford (1999, appeared as Jeremy Brockett), his guest performance in the sitcom “Grosse Pointe” (2000), his Golden Satellite-nominated leading turn as James Van Praagh in the sci-fi film Living with the Dead (2002, TV) and his voicing for Terry McMillian, a guest character, in the animated series “Gary the Rat” (2003), starring Kelsey Grammer. A year later, he was seen as George Gazelle in the Valentine Day’s movie It Must Be Love (2004).
In 2005, Danson gained praise after taking the role of lawyer Mitchell Garabedian in the TV adaptation of David France’s epic book about the sex scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, Our Fathers. He also accepted a Screen Actors Guild nomination for his fine portrayal of a businessman-turned-teacher in the based-on-true-story TV drama Knights of the South Bronx (2005).
Recently, the actor detoured to the short film genre in Bye Bye Benjamin (2006, acted and executive produced). He also lent his voice for Sean’s dad in the animated TV movie The Magic 7 (2006), guest starred in the drama series “Heist” (2006) and appeared in the pilot for “Help Me Help You” (2006). Danson is currently set to play the supporting role of Harvey Parrish in the upcoming drama comedy Nobel Son (2006), alongside Alan Rickman, Danny DeVito, Eliza Dushku, and wife Mary Steenburgen.
- Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical, “Cheers,” 1991
- Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical, “Cheers,” 1990
- Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, “Cheers,” 1993
- American Comedy: Funniest Male Performer in a TV Series (Leading Role) Network, Cable or Syndication, “Cheers,” 1991
- Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, “Cheers,” 1990
- Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, Something About Amelia, 1985