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Edward Bridge “Ted” Danson III (born December 29, 1947) is an American actor best known for his role as central character Sam Malone in the sitcom Cheers, and his role as Dr. John Becker on the series Becker. He is currently a regular on Larry David's HBO sitcom, Curb Your Enthusiasm and starred alongside Glenn Close in legal drama Damages. He also appears on a new HBO comedy series, Bored to Death, playing a supporting role, George.

In his thirty-year career, Danson has been nominated for fourteen Primetime Emmy Awards nominations, winning two; ten Golden Globe Awards nominations, winning three; one Screen Actors Guild Awards nomination; one American Comedy Award and a star on Hollywood's Walk of Famemarker.

Early life

Danson was born in San Diego, Californiamarker, the son of Jessica Danson (née MacMaster) and Edward Bridge Danson Jr., an archaeologist and museum director. Danson is of Scottish and English ancestry. He was raised in Flagstaff, Arizonamarker.

In 1961, he enrolled in the prestigious Kent School where he was a basketball star. He became interested in drama while attending Stanford Universitymarker. He transferred to the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now known as Carnegie Mellon Universitymarker) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drama, in 1972.



Early career

Danson began his television career as a contract player on daytime soap opera, Somerset. He played the role of "Tom Conway" from 1975 to 1976. He was also in a number of commercials, most recognizably as the "Aramismarker man".

He made a number of guest appearances in episodic television in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including spots on Laverne and Shirley, B.J. and the Bear, Family, Benson, Taxi,Magnum, P.I., and Tucker's Witch.

Career breakthrough: Cheers

Danson at the 42nd Emmy Awards, September 1990
In 1982, Danson was cast in his most recognizable role, as ex-baseball player and bartender Sam Malone on the hit sitcom Cheers. The show had a run of 11 seasons and its finale (May 20, 1993) was watched by 80 million people, becoming the second most watched finale in television history, behind M*A*S*H which was watched by 106 million people, exacly ten years before. It won four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series and a Golden Globe for Best Series - Musical or Comedy. The show ran from 1982 to 1993, with Danson receiving 11 consecutive Emmy nominations and nine Golden Globes, although he had only won two Emmys and two Golden Globe Awards from those nominations. In 2002, TV Guide named Cheers the 18th Greatest Show of All Time. It was also included in Time Magazine's 100 Greatest Shows of All Time.

Danson also appeared as Sam Malone in guest-starring roles on other sitcoms, such as Frasier (a Cheers spin-off) and The Simpsons.

Later career

Although he was best known for his work in comedy, he also appeared in an acclaimed drama, Something About Amelia, about a family devastated by the repercussions of incest, which co-starred his current co-star on Damages, Glenn Close. He won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie and was nominated for an Emmy Award In 1996, three years after Cheers concluded, Danson starred in the short-lived CBS sitcom Ink with his real-life wife Mary Steenburgen. In the same year, they starred as Lemuel Gulliver and his wife in an acclaimed television miniseries of Gulliver's Travels.

Danson went on to star in the successful CBS sitcom Becker, which ran from 1998–2004. Danson also plays himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm. He reprised his role of "Sam Malone" in a second season episode of Frasier and voiced him in The Simpsons episode "Fear of Flying".

Danson returned to series television in the fall of 2006, playing a psychiatrist in the ABC sitcom Help Me Help You, which was canceled at midseason due to low ratings.

In 2007, Danson began the FX Network drama Damages as a corrupt billionaire, Arthur Frobisher. The role earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, but lost to co-star Željko Ivanek. In the second season, Danson became a regular character instead as one of the principal cast. Nevertheless, Danson received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series, but lost to Michael J. Fox for his guest appearance in Rescue Me.

In 1999, Danson was presented a star on Hollywood's Walk of Famemarker.

Danson is currently starring in the new HBO comedy series, Bored to Death, playing George.


Danson has also been featured in numerous films. His most notable film appearances were in Three Men and a Baby with Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg, its sequel Three Men and a Little Lady, and Cousins with Isabella Rossellini. He also appeared in The Onion Field (his first film, as the bagpiper), Body Heat, Just Between Friends, A Fine Mess, Made in America, Getting Even with Dad, and Saving Private Ryan.


Danson's image, along with that of Scott Bakula, was used as a selectable character in Alien Breed II: The Horror Continues, a science fiction shoot 'em up released for the Amiga home computer system in 1993. Whether or not this use was authorized is unknown.

Personal life

Danson and his first wife, Randy Gosch (now professionally known as Randy Danson), were married from 1970 to 1975. Danson's second wife was Casey Coates; the couple were married in 1977. In 1979, while giving birth to their first child, Coates suffered a stroke, and Danson spent several years caring for her and helping her recuperate. The couple later adopted a daughter. An affair with Whoopi Goldberg led to their divorce in 1993. It was one of Hollywood's costliest divorces, costing Danson a massive $25 million.

He later married actress Mary Steenburgen, on October 7, 1995. He is stepfather to her daughter, Lilly, and son, Charles, with actor Malcolm McDowell.

On the September 27, 2007 episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Danson revealed that he follows a mostly vegan diet, although he does occasionally eat fish.


Danson experienced substantial negative press attention after his appearance in blackface at a Friar's Clubmarker comedy roast in Goldberg's honor, as some guests were said to be angered by the monologue he delivered. Whoopi Goldberg admitted to writing the skit with him.


Danson is a longtime environmental advocate and he has donated over $500,000 of his own money to environmental causes.

Danson's interest in environmental concerns was ignited when he was twelve years old and Bill Breed, then a curator at the Museum of Northern Arizona, introduced Danson and friend Marc Gaede to a game he referred to as "billboarding". Armed with an axe and saw, Breed, Gaede, and Danson ended up destroying over 500 outdoor advertising signs, and illegal birdhouses.

Danson's interest in environmentalism continued over the years, and he began to be concerned with the state of the world's oceans. In the 1980s, he was a contributing founder of the American Oceans Campaigns, now referred to as Oceana, and Danson is still a board member. In the late 1980s, he issued a statement that the world had ten years to "save the oceans".

Political activism

Danson is a friend of former United States President Bill Clinton, who attended Danson's wedding to Mary Steenburgen. Danson has donated more than $85,000 to Democratic candidates, including Al Gore, John Edwards, Barbara Boxer, Bill Clinton, Al Franken, and John Kerry. He has also donated to the Democratic Party of Arkansas and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Danson and Steenburgen campaigned for Sen. Hillary Clinton during her 2008 Presidential campaign.




Awards and nominations


Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
  • 1990 – Cheers
  • 1993 – Cheers

Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical
  • 1985 – Something About Amelia
  • 1990 – Cheers
  • 1991 – Cheers


Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
  • 1983 – Cheers
  • 1985 – Cheers
  • 1986 – Cheers
  • 1987 – Cheers
  • 1988 – Cheers
  • 1989 – Cheers
  • 1991 – Cheers
  • 1992 – Cheers
  • 1994 – Cheers

Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special
  • 1984 – Something About Amelia

Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
  • 2008 - "Damages"

Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
  • 2009 - "Damages"

Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical
  • 1984 – Cheers
  • 1985 – Cheers
  • 1987 – Cheers
  • 1989 – Cheers
  • 1990 – Cheers
  • 1991 – Cheers
  • 1992 – Cheers
  • 1993 – Cheers
  • 2001 – Becker

Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Series/Mini Series/Television Movie
  • 2008 - Damages

Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries
  • 2006 - Knights of the South Bronx


  1. Ted Danson Biography
  2. Ancestry of Ted Danson
  3. [1]
  4. Racial Jokes Spur Apology From Friars New York Times, October 10, 1993
  5. Ted Danson
  6. Ted Danson: acting for the oceans - interview with actor and American Oceans Campaign co-founder Ted Danson | E: The Environmental Magazine | Find Articles at

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