Ted Danson Biography

Actor, Environmental Activist (1947–)
Ted Danson is an American actor best known for playing bartender Sam Malone on the hit TV sitcom Cheers.

Who Is Ted Danson?

Ted Danson is an American actor born on December 29, 1947 in San Diego, California. Danson appeared on several TV shows in the 1970s to early '80s, most notably as Sam Malone in Cheers (1982). During the series’ eleven seasons, Danson won a Golden Globe Award, two Emmy Awards and several Emmy nominations. He earned another Golden Globe Award for his role in the TV miniseries Something About Amelia (1984) and received acclaim for his role in the film Three Men and a Baby (1987). From 2011 to 2015, he joined the cast of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and currently stars in The Good Place.

Ted Danson Photo

Ted Danson

Movies and TV Shows

Danson's first continual TV role was that of a villain on the NBC soap opera Sommerset (1974-76). Movie offers soon followed, and Danson landed his first part as a cop in the 1979 film The Onion Field. In the early '80s, he was featured in a few unsuccessful TV movies, including The Women's Room (1980) and Our Family Business (1981). His most acclaimed project during this period was in the sultry film noir Body Heat (1981), alongside stars Kathleen Turner and William Hurt.


Danson first achieved national recognition for his portrayal of the skirt-chasing bartender Sam "Mayday" Malone on NBC's comedy series Cheers (1982). Danson played the role for 11 seasons, during which he earned a Golden Globe Award, two Emmy Awards, and several Emmy nominations. During this time, he also won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries for Something About Amelia (1984), as a father who seeks help for sexually abusing his daughter.

'Three Men and a Baby'

While he enjoyed continued success on the small screen, he intermittently tried his hand at film. In 1987, Danson, along with co-stars Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg, achieved critical acclaim with the hit Three Men and a Baby. A few years later, the trio of actors reprised their roles in the sequel Three Men and a Little Lady (1990).

'Gulliver's Travels'

In 1996 Danson returned to TV in the highly acclaimed miniseries Gulliver's Travels, and in the short-lived sitcom Ink, which paired him with Steenburgen. In the late 1990s, he landed the title role in the CBS sitcom Becker (1998), and also starred in the feature film Mumford (1999). 

'Damages,' 'Bored to Death'

After a few less-than-stellar efforts, Danson has recently experienced a television renaissance. He wowed critics and audiences alike with his portrayal of charming yet devious businessman opposite Glenn Close in the legal drama Damages from 2007 to 2010. Returning to the comic form that same year, Danson landed a co-starring role in the offbeat comedy Bored to Death with Jason Schwartzman and Zach Galifianakis.

'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,' 'Fargo,' 'The Good Place'

Showing yet another dimension in his talents, Danson turned forensics investigator from 2011 to 2015. The actor joined the cast of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as supervisor D. B. Russell, filling the shoes formerly filled by Laurence Fishburne

After CSI, Danson starred in Season 2 of FX's Fargo (2015) and is presently on NBC's The Good Place

Danson is also notable for his longstanding recurring role on Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-2017).

Romance With Whoopi & Current Spouse

In 1992 Danson ended his 15-year marriage to Casey Coates. Soon after, he embarked on a short-lived and highly publicized romance with actress Whoopi Goldberg. Danson is presently married to actress Mary Steenburgen. The couple wed in 1995, and manage their own production company, Anasazi Productions. Danson has two daughters: Kate, born in 1979, and Alexis, born in 1985.

Early Life

Edward Bridge Danson III was born on December 29, 1947, in San Diego, California. Danson was raised by his father, Edward Danson, a prominent archaeologist, on a Navajo reservation in Arizona. In 1966 Danson attended Stanford University in Stanford, California, where his interest in acting was motivated by a girlfriend and fellow drama enthusiast. In 1968 the aspiring actor transferred to the drama department at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated with a drama degree, but soon abandoned stage acting for the profitable world of television commercials, where he won attention as the suave "Aramis Man."

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