Reflecting upon their hit sitcom that concluded 30 years ago, the cast of “Cheers” – including Ted Danson (Sam Malone), George Wendt (Norm Peterson) and John Ratzenberger (Cliff Clavin) – discussed welcoming the late Kirstie Alley (Rebecca Howe) to the show in 1987, during the program’s sixth season.
“We were having dinner right before the show, and we said, ‘Oh jeez, we should have got her something, right,’ Wendt remembered at the ATX TV Festival in Austin, per People magazine. “[Ted Danson] says, ‘I can’t, I got a thing I got to do,” adding that Rhea Perlman also declined to get the gift.
Along with Ratzenberger, Wendt was entrusted to find a suitable gift, and the men decided to hit the Melrose in Hollywood.
“… [G]oing past all these places and we go past Big 5 Sporting Goods and John goes, ‘You wanna buy her a shotgun?'” Wendt recalled, which got him instant laughs from the Texas audience.
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“And, like you, I laughed for about five minutes,” he added, addressing the crowd. “And then immediately pulled into the parking lot, and we bought her a freakin’ shotgun.… John and I were never tasked with the gifts again.”
But the joke didn’t end there – Ratzenberger says Wendt kept going.
“I think you even wrote on the card, ‘You’re gonna have to shoot your way out,'” he joked.
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Alley passed away in December at 71 after battling colon cancer. Reflecting on her absence, Danson, 75, got emotional.
“She’s not here. It’s very strange,” he said per Variety. “She came in like a ball of fire… She was making her entrance into the table read and she put on a Shelley Long, blonde wig. We’re like, ‘OK, you’ll do great.'”
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Alley won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Howe, remaining on the show until it concluded with season 11.