Ted Danson's toupee practically became its own character on Cheers

Did you know the moment Sam removed his hairpiece was totally unscripted?

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Did you know the moment Sam removed his hairpiece on Cheers was totally unscripted?
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In the early Eighties, Ted Danson became a sex symbol by starring in Cheers as the womanizing Sam Malone.

Throughout the show’s run, Sam’s obsessed with his gorgeous full head of hair, constantly primping himself and inspiring critics to claim he loved his hair perhaps even more than the ladies.

But in reality, Danson never felt sexy, and as the show went on, his extreme insecurity grew, as his hair began thinning.

Despite describing himself as "a guy with a very large ego," Danson didn’t understand why anyone would consider him all that attractive, claiming in a 1989 interview that "on screen, I had no self-confidence that way. I was spending so much time trying to be sexy, I ended up looking neurotic."

By the end of the Eighties, though, his reputation as a leading man had been solidified by his award-winning performances on Cheers.

"His appeal is that he’s funny and he’s good-looking, which is a hard combination to find," Cheers co-creator James Burrows told The Los Angeles Times in 1989. "That’s the most sought-after kind of actor both on television and in the movies. Everyone is always looking for that kind of guy."

It was around this time that Danson started being featured in movies like Three Men and a Baby, straddling his TV role with big screen starring roles.

And this was also the moment that Danson first donned a hairpiece while filming the 1989 movie Cousins.

"I wore a hairpiece for the first time when I did Cousins," Danson was quoted in the Weekly World News in 1991. "It was thinning in the back, so they put a piece in, and it was great."

Wearing the hairpiece gave Danson a lot of the confidence that he lacked even before his hair was thinning, though, and he said it was while filming Cousins that he first started understanding why others saw him as leading man material.

He decided to stop being so self-deprecating during interviews.

"I guess I’ve matured," Danson said. "I’ve learned, or I’m trying to learn, not to be so hard on myself all the time. I’ve stopped saying stupid things about my looks, for example. I used to say when I smiled, it looked like I had a hand grenade in my mouth."

After donning the hairpiece in Cousins, Danson started wearing the toupee while he played Sam Malone.

This led to a very funny scene in a 1993 episode called "It’s Lonely on the Top," where Sam reveals to Carla that he wears a hairpiece.

According to IMDb, in the script, Sam was supposed to whisper this reveal to Carla, but Danson decided to improvise while shooting and snatched off his toupee onscreen.

The reaction of Rhea Perlman captured her genuine surprise that Danson would pull such a stunt, which comes as a total shock, especially considering his poor self-image when the series started.

That year in 1993, the sitcom came to a close, but four years prior, Danson said he had realized that Sam wasn’t a character he was stuck playing in just one way, but a vehicle to have more fun with all his time onscreen. It made playing the character feel second-nature.

That impulse to evolve apparently included a very memorable, but impulsive scene where he messed with how viewers thought of Sam and his precious hair forever.

"When Cheers hit, it jammed me up a bit," Danson said. "I was afraid I’d be stuck (as a TV star), so I started making scared career decisions. I thought too much and didn’t ask the right questions. Now that I’ve finally made it, in my own eyes, I think I can have fun."

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zman47240 23 months ago
Ted was also great in the little known series Bored To Death with Zack Galifianakis and Jason Schwartzman.
MikefromJersey 23 months ago
Ted Danson is very likable, and I enjoyed him in both Cheers and Becker.
So I tuned in to his NBC sitcom Mr. Mayor with high hopes.
Was I wrong, in one word, PU!
It consists of one note characters whose maturity levels reflect that of the high school aged
Sweat Hogs in Welcome Back Kotter.
We love Barney Fife and find him funny because he is a fully realized and
developed person, so we laugh when he takes his bullet out of his pocket, which is
not in itself humorous.
On Mr. Mayor, every line is a BIG YUCKS punch line in the writers minds, but that's
it. It's an empty shell.
Danson has to know this, he is just padding his retirement fund.
No kidding, the average Scooby Doo had more depth.
RichLorn MikefromJersey 23 months ago
I like Becker even more than I like Cheers. Every character is hilarious.
KirwoodDerby 23 months ago
Wouldn’t it be a great idea for MeTV to run Thursday night episodes of Cheers in its old time slot. Then we could relive the magic all over again. Just like when we first fell in love with it.
AndreaZ KirwoodDerby 23 months ago
Agreed. In fact, I wish MeTv had a different lineup each evening then I'd have a reason to tune in. I'm totally fine with their after midnight lineup. Since I have insomnia, I know exactly what time it is when Barneby Jones comes on...LOL
UTZAAKE 23 months ago
Ted Danson back in the late-1980s frighteningly almost looked like Michael Milken.
bre003 23 months ago
Thought about getting one of those, but I guess Ill stick to wearing hats.
jaelinsmith40652 23 months ago
He's Got No Hair! That was surprising!
WordsmithWorks 23 months ago
That scene was hysterical. The fact that Perlman's reaction was so genuine made it all the funnier.
Coldnorth 23 months ago
The best part of CHEERS for me was the theme song. I still like it
AlF Coldnorth 23 months ago
The Simpsons did a parody of that song called "Flaming Moe's" which was hilarious...

Coldnorth AlF 23 months ago
I will have to watch it
peterm 23 months ago
only series he was in i liked was BECKER
WordsmithWorks peterm 23 months ago
They should bring Becker to the line-up and dump some of their schedule dead weight.
Runeshaper 23 months ago
Ted Danson was a FANTASTIC Sam Malone! Gotta love Cheers! (-:
LoveMETV22 23 months ago
What a Hair raising story. Absolutely hair-larious . Puns aside what a fun series. Hope to see more beside the Summer block. Bring the series back to the regular schedule MeTV.
MrsPhilHarris LoveMETV22 23 months ago
I think they might be doing just that. I can’t see all these stories about Cheers just for one afternoon of what 8, 10 episodes. 🤔
LoveMETV22 MrsPhilHarris 23 months ago
One can always hope. Probably more promoting Sundays block. Figured a plug here and there for interest. But hopefully your right.
MrsPhilHarris LoveMETV22 23 months ago
You may be right but it just feels like overkill. Mind you, since Cheers hasn’t been on ME for a while it is nice to have quizzes and stories.
McGillahooala 23 months ago
Sam Malone is such a nice likable guy. Ted Danson is also a guy.
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