Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
Actor Ted Danson has starred in TV's Cheers and Becker.
Awards: Emmy Award; Golden Globe Award
Actor Ted Danson was born in San Diego, and then attended college at Stanford. He later transferred to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. He went on to star in popular television shows such as Cheers, and Becker. He has also appeared in numerous movies. He has won three Golden Globes, and two Emmys, and has been nominated for many more. He continues his acting career today, and has an active hand in his environmental charity, Oceana.
Edward Bridge "Ted" Danson III was born in San Diego on December 29, 1947. Danson was raised in Flagstaff, Arizona, until his father sent him to the Kent School in Connecticut. Danson was a basketball star on his school team. He later moved back west and attended college at Stanford University. There he discovered his love for acting causing him to transfer to Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh to pursue his acting. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1968. Danson continued his acting career in commercials after several non-speaking roles. It was during this time Danson met his first wife, Randy. They were married in 1970, and then divorced in 1975.
Danson's acting career started when he landed a deal to be a murdered cop in the 1979 movie The Onion Field. In the early 1980s, he was featured in a few unsuccessful movies such as The Women's Room, and Body Heat. Danson quickly found great success in the popular 1980s TV show Cheers. While on Cheers, he played Sam Malone, an ex-pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, and owner of the bar Cheers. Television critic Eric Estrin describes Danson's character, "Sam [Malone] as an almost tragic figure - adolescent, glib, womanizing - who is saved by his devil-may-care charm and a certain blindness to his flaws." Cheers is widely regarded as one of the best sitcoms of the 1980s, partly because of Danson's eccentric, recognizable personality. He stayed with Cheers for 11 seasons. Danson won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Cheers) in 1990, and 1993, and was nominated nine more times between 1983 and 1994. Danson also won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series-Comedy/Musical (Cheers) in 1990, and 1991. He was also nominated for this award eight times between 1984 and 1993.
While on Cheers, he married his second wife Casey Coates in 1977. They had their first child in 1979, and while giving birth, Coates suffered a stroke. Danson spent the majority of the next two years attending to his wife's health. Soon after, they adopted a second daughter. Towards the end of his stint on Cheers he then found success in Three Men and a Baby (1987), starring alongside Tom Selleck, and Steve Guttenberg. He played one of three bachelors who find themselves in the position of being surrogate fathers after an infant is left anonymously at their doorstep. Nancy Mills, a respected newspaper columnist describes Danson's role in the movie saying, "His character fit neatly in between Tom Selleck's Daddy-of-us-all and Steve Guttenberg's wisecracking little brother." The success of this movie gave Danson a sense of completion to his career, as he finally broke thru on the big screen.
During the run of Cheers, he also starred in a television movie, Something About Amelia. In Something About Amelia he played a sexually abusive father, a far cry from his wise cracking role on Cheers. Variety described the movie and Danson's role saying, "Controversial, highly publicized drama about incest, spotlighted at the time as TV's 'last taboo,' with Ted Danson—as far from his 'Cheers' character of Sam Malone as imaginable—playing the father accused by his teenage daughter of having sex with her." He won a Golden Globe for his performance in 1985.
In the early 1990s he became romantically involved with Whoopi Goldberg. Their relationship was highly publicized and led to their divorce in 1993 that cost Danson an unprecedented $25 million. Danson also found himself in hot water after he preformed a black-faced act at the Friar's Club during a roast of Whoopie Goldberg. People were so offended by his comments that he was lucky to ever get another acting contract. Whoopi Goldberg defended Danson saying, "Many people who come to the roast were unfamiliar with the Friars Club. I thought everyone knew the definition of a roast. You char that person. You talk about them, their mother, father, etc. Everything is fair game. Apparently there were people who were uncomfortable with what to expect. Some of them have not been to a roast before."
Later in the 1990s he starred in the television miniseries Gulliver's Travels, andInk. He was more successful in the 1998 sit-com Becker, in which he played a curmudgeonly doctor whose patients are nonetheless loyal. At this time he then again found success in 1998 playing Captain Fred Hamill in the popular movieSaving Private Ryan. He was again nominated for the Golden Globe Award eight times between 1984 and 1993, and again in 2001 for his role in Becker. He again was nominated in 2008 for an Emmy for Damages, a crime drama, his newest television show.
Danson married Mary Steenbergen in 1995, and is now the stepfather to her two children Lilly and Charles. Danson said Bill Clinton is like Steenbergen's big brother and the two often slept in the White House in the Lincoln Bedroom during the Clinton administration. Danson is now a known contributor to Democratic campaigns.
In 1987, Danson founded the American Oceans Campaign. In testimony given to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy in 2002, Danson said, "One of the events that led me to become an ocean advocate was a trip to a local, polluted beach with my two young daughters. Having to explain to my disappointed children that we could not swim in the ocean because we could get sick was an eye-opening experience." To this day, Danson remains a board member of the organization. It is documented that he has donated over $500,000 to the charity. Today, Danson brews his own brand of scotch, called Danson's Best. He lives with his wife in California.
Cheers. NBC. 30 Sept. 1982-20 May 1993.
Something About Amelia. ABC. 9 Jan. 1984.
Saturday Night Live. Danson, Ted. NBC. 10 Apr. 1989.
Ink. CBS. 17 Oct. 1997-19 May 1997.
Becker. CBS. 2 Nov. 2004-28 Jan. 2004.
Damages. FOX, 24 July 2007.
The Onion Field. Dir. Joseph Wambaugh. Avco/Embassy Pictures, 1979.
3 Men and a Baby. Dir. Leonard Nimoy. Buena Vista Pictures, 1987.
3 Men and A Little Lady. Dir. Emile Ardolino. Buena Vista Pictures, 1990.
Saving Private Ryan. Dir. Steven Spielberg. DreamWorksSKG, 1998.