Ted Danson on 'Cheers' 40th Anniversary: 'Everything I Do Is Because of That Show's Popularity' (Exclusive)

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Long before he was the star of Mr. Mayor, Ted Danson played Sam Malone, the charming, smooth-talking bartender on Cheers, the beloved sitcom about a bar where "everybody knows your name" that aired from 1982 to 1993.

Sept. 30, 2022 will mark the 40th anniversary of the show's debut, and Danson tells ET's Kevin Frazier that he can hardly believe it. 

"Unbelievable. I remember being 35 when I started, that's always a nice kind of memory," Danson recalls of first portraying the heartthrob bartender, quipping, "My hair was brown, and I had a lot of it."

The 74-year-old actor says he has never forgotten where he came from or how he's managed so much success. "I was so blessed. I got my introduction to this business with [Cheers creators] Jimmy Burrows and [Les Charles] and Glen Charles, who are like half-hour aristocrats. I mean, they were some of the best in the business and that's how I got introduced to half-hour [television]."

Forever grateful, Danson adds, "The reason why we're talking, the reason why I'm sitting next to [Mr. Mayor co-star] Holly [Hunter] is because of Cheers. Everything I do is because of the popularity of that show."

As for whether he goes back and watches the sitcom, Danson admits, "It still makes me laugh when I watch sometimes. It's funny and it's great to see my friends and they make me laugh."

'Cheers' cast

The cast of 'Cheers' in 1987.

Aaron Rapoport/Corbis via Getty Images

Decades later, Danson is still making people laugh. The actor stars alongside Hunter in season 2 of Mr. Mayor and the two teased to ET what fans can expect. In the series, Danson plays wealthy businessman Neil Bremer, who becomes the mayor of Los Angeles. And while Hunter's character, Arpi Meskimen, seems to both challenge and support Neil at every turn professionally, the co-workers also seem to have some romantic tension between them.

"There's a lot of jealousy, there's some romance, but there's a lot of friction involved," Danson says of season 2. 

Hunter chimes in, "There's a lot of competition, and there's a desire to annihilate."

The second season of Mr. Mayor premieres March 15 on NBC.


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