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25 Indestructible Facts About The Terminator

He told you he’d be back. Before you go and see the newest installment of the Terminator franchise, here are some things you may not have known about the first four movies in the series.

1. THE TERMINATOR CAME FROM A NIGHTMARE.

Director and co-writer James Cameron first thought of the idea for The Terminator while stressed out and fever-stricken in Rome during production on his low-budget horror movie, Piranha II: The Spawning, which he had reluctantly agreed to direct. After a hard night of editing his own cut of a movie he hated, Cameron dreamed of a solid chrome torso crawling out of an explosion and dragging itself across the floor. The director quickly cooked up the story of a robot assassin sent back in time to kill the woman whose son will become the savior of humankind, and The Terminator was born. Cameron has since disowned Piranha II and considers The Terminator his first film.

2. JAMES CAMERON DIVVIED UP THE WRITING DUTIES.

To turn his nightmare into a screenplay, Cameron recruited his friend William Wisher, Jr., who is only given an “Additional Dialogue” credit in the final film. Wisher would actually write the early scenes establishing Sarah Connor and the police interrogation sequences, while Cameron fleshed out most of the action scenes and the details involving the war between humans and the machines. Producer Gale Anne Hurd, who would eventually marry and divorce Cameron, also received a writing credit on the movie, though according to Cameron she didn’t do any writing at all. Hurd apparently only suggested script edits. (Cameron also sold The Terminator rights to Hurd ... for $1.)

3. THE MOVIE HAD A UNIQUE PITCH MEETING.

The script found its way to the desk of John Day, the head of low-budget movie studio Hemdale Pictures, who called Cameron in for a pitch meeting after Orion Pictures had already agreed to distribute the film nationwide. To woo the studio, Cameron had actor Lance Henriksen (who had appeared in Piranha II: The Spawning, and would go on to appear in The Terminator and Aliens) show up to the meeting decked out in costume as the titular cyborg who at that point had yet to be cast. Henriksen broke down the studio’s office door while wearing a ripped shirt, leather jacket, combat boots, and gold foil from a cigarette pack folded around his teeth. Daly loved the gimmick and Cameron’s pitch, which included detailed storyboards to round out his ideas, and greenlit the movie with a budget of $6 million.

4. THE STUDIO WANTED O.J. SIMPSON TO PLAY THE TERMINATOR.

Arnold Schwarzenegger first came to the attention of Cameron after the head of Orion Pictures had met the former Mr. Universe at a party. At that point, Arnold’s only legitimate acting experience had been in 1982's Conan the Barbarian, and he was eager to break into different roles. Orion originally wanted Arnold to play Kyle Reese, the human fighter sent back in time, and wanted former NFL star O.J. Simpson to play the Terminator.

Cameron initially didn’t like either choice, and took a meeting with Schwarzenegger with the intention of picking a fight with him and storming back to the studio demanding a new actor. Instead, the two clicked over Schwarzenegger’s vision for the titular villain, which instead caused Cameron to run back to the studio and suggest he play the Terminator; the actor was signed the next day.

Fun Fact: Sting was considered for the role of Kyle Reese before Cameron chose actor Michael Biehn. Biehn would go on to appear in Cameron’s next films, Aliens and The Abyss.

5. SHOOTING ON THE MOVIE ENTERED A STATE OF ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.

After more than a year of preparation, Cameron was finally ready to start filming in the spring of 1983 when the producer of Conan the Barbarian, Dino De Laurentiis, exercised an option in Schwarzenegger’s contract to force him to appear in the Conan sequel, Conan the Destroyer, despite his Terminator contract with Cameron. The entire filming schedule for The Terminator had to be scrapped and delayed for nine months while Schwarzenegger went off to film the other movie in Mexico.

6. CAMERON USED THE DELAY WISELY.

During the forced delay on the start date for his movie, Cameron used the script for The Terminator as a writing sample to attract new writing opportunities around Hollywood. He eventually got a meeting at Brandywine Productions for a remake of Spartacus that took place in space, but when that fell through the production company floated another property to Cameron: the sequel to Alien. Cameron went back a week later with a script treatment for “Alien 2” that incorporated ideas from another script he had written called “Mother” where a gigantic alien creature fights the female lead while she is strapped into a huge mechanical exoskeleton. The studio loved his take, and hired him to write the Alien sequel.

On the very same day, Cameron was also hired by a different studio to write the second Rambo movie. Not wanting to let two opportunities slip through his fingers, Cameron took both jobs, and wrote the screenplays simultaneously. To complete both projects in a three-month period, Cameron estimated each would be two hours long with scripts at 120 pages apiece. He then divided the total working hours he would have during the three months by the 360 pages for both scripts and wrote that many pages per hour until they were both complete.

7. THE FINAL TERMINATOR DESIGN WAS IDENTICAL TO CAMERON’S NIGHTMARE.

Cameron originally wanted special effects legend Dick Smith to create the design for the Terminator’s skeleton. Smith was the genius behind the make-up for the iconic effects in The Exorcist and aging Marlon Brando in The Godfather, but Smith declined the offer, which left the opportunity open for his lesser-known friend, Stan Winston, to step in. Winston would go on to pioneer effects in such movies as Cameron’s own Aliens and Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Despite the fact that both Cameron and Winston would spend weeks sending each other preliminary design sketches about what the Terminator would look like, the final design was from the same sketch Cameron made after having his nightmare epiphany in Rome.

8. WINSTON’S TEAM WORKED HARD TO CREATE THE TERMINATOR SKELETON.

Seven separate artists worked around the clock for six months to create Cameron’s vision of the Terminator skeleton puppet. It was created using a clay, plaster, and urethane molding, which was then cast in a mixture of epoxy and fiberglass with reinforced steel throughout the rig. The whole skeleton was chrome-plated and distressed to look more realistic, and the final skeleton weighed more than 100 pounds.

When they tried to puppeteer the skeleton walking on set, Cameron thought the lumbering rig didn’t look real enough. To make up for the fake-looking walking, Cameron added a story beat that had the Terminator develop a limp after walking out of the fiery truck.

9. THE MUSIC HAS A UNIQUE TIME SIGNATURE.

The movie’s distinctive music was written and performed by composer Brad Fiedel. To create the iconic clangs of the film’s percussive theme, Fiedel recorded samples of himself banging frying pans together and then layered in synth melodies underneath using Prophet 10 and Oberheim analog synthesizers. While blending the two together, Fiedel looped the rhythmic clangs a split second off the foundational synth melody, and made a propulsive theme that was slightly off. When he put together sheet music for the score he later found that his little mistake made the time signature of the theme into an impossible 13/16 at three plus three plus three plus two plus two. When he would complete the score for the sequel, Fiedel made things a little more plausible and used an updated 6/8 time signature.

10. SCI-FI WRITER HARLAN ELLISON WAS NOT A FAN.

After the movie was released, writer Harlan Ellison sued the makers of The Terminator for allegedly stealing the idea for the movie from two episodes of the 1960s sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits. Ellison alleged that Cameron took the idea of two future warriors battling in the past from an episode entitled “Soldier,” and that the Terminator skeleton was taken from a similar robot design he’d created for the episode “Demon with a Glass Hand.” Rather than battling him in costly court proceedings, Orion Pictures simply settled out of court and agreed to add an “acknowledgment to the works of” credit in subsequent prints of the movie. Cameron wasn’t too happy about Orion capitulating to Ellison, mostly because he felt he came up with an original idea and any resemblance to Ellison’s work was because they both dealt with similar genre tropes. Cameron would later go on to call Ellison a “parasite who can kiss my ass.”

11. TERMINATOR 2 COST A LOT OF MONEY AT THE TIME.

When Cameron decided to revisit the story of Sarah Connor for 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, what he came up with wasn’t cheap. Its $94 million budget made it the most expensive movie ever made at the time. The sequences before the title cards allegedly cost as much money as the entire budget of the first movie. Cameron alone was paid $6 million to direct and co-write the movie, while Schwarzenegger was coaxed back into the robotic role that made him a star for a whopping $15 million salary—$12 million of which was in the shape of a Gulfstream jet purchased for the actor by the film’s producer, Mario Kassar.

12. THE PLOT FOR THE SEQUEL WAS THE ORIGINAL PLOT OF THE FIRST MOVIE.

Early story treatments for The Terminator had two Terminators sent back to our present to battle each other, but the dual robot idea ended up being too costly for the original film's relatively small budget. The initial ideas for T2 adopted the double Terminator idea, but would have had one good T-800 and one bad T-800 fighting each other, both of which were to be played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cameron scrapped the idea because of logistical reasons and cherry-picked another unused idea from the original film’s early story treatments for the villain: the liquid metal T-1000.

13. STAN WINSTON TECHNICALLY DIRECTED THE FIRST FOOTAGE OF T2.

Before filming on the sequel even started, Cameron had Winston direct and shoot a teaser trailer for T2 featuring an assembly line showing how the T-800s were created, and culminating in a robot in the form of Schwarzenegger uttering his famous phrase, “I’ll be back.”

14. THE MOVIE USHERED IN A NEW ERA IN SPECIAL EFFECTS.

Cameron had to leave the liquid metal T-1000 out of the original movie because it simply wasn’t possible using the special effects that were available in the early 1980s. But he had tried a then-new method called CGI to create a few scenes involving an alien water tentacle for his 1989 film, The Abyss. He then tasked the effects artists at Industrial Light and Magic to bring a photorealistic liquid metal Terminator to life for T2 using the nascent technology.

Thirty-five different ILM artists worked for six months on shots that would only equal about five minutes of screen time in the 136-minute movie. To help them create the morphing effects, they used a new piece of software developed by ILM artist John Knoll and his brother. The software was actually the very first version of Photoshop.

Stan Winston and his team also returned to create practical effects that would accent the CGI, including a photorealistic puppet of the T-1000 with a gaping hole in its head and the liquid metal Terminator splayed in half after a shotgun blast.

Fun Fact: Early concept art used singer Billy Idol’s face for the T-1000, and Cameron briefly considered him for the part until Idol broke his leg in a motorcycle accident and couldn’t complete training in time for the movie.

15. THE FILMMAKERS LOOKED EVERYWHERE FOR JOHN CONNOR.

Casting director Mali Finn searched nationwide for a boy to play the young John Connor in T2 using all the usual Hollywood casting channels, but also in some unorthodox ways. She saw hundreds of professional actors, but it was her tendency to think outside of the box that got her to see Edward Furlong. Finn had visited The Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena, where Furlong caught her eye as he was playing with other kids. When she approached the boy he was immediately standoffish, and called her “frog lips,” but was also extremely confident. Like John Connor in the movie, Furlong had never met his father and was raised by his single mother. After a few rough auditions with the completely untrained Furlong, Finn had a dialogue coach work with him to seem more natural, and Cameron eventually hired him for the part.

16. EDWARD FURLONG GREW UP A LITTLE TOO FAST.

The inexperienced actor was only 13 years old when filming began on T2, but he quickly started to go through puberty halfway through production, which caused his voice to become noticeably deeper. The change caused Cameron to have to re-record all of Furlong’s lines from the first half of the shoot in order to match his deeper voice. Luckily Cameron didn’t shoot the film chronologically so, using ADR, he was able to replace Furlong’s high-pitched, pre-pubescent voice with his new one. Also, Cameron had to complete some pickup shots at the end of production, and one was of Furlong and Hamilton standing on opposite sides of a car. But Furlong had grown so much in height that it didn’t match the shot they had completed months before, so the production had to dig a hole for the actor to stand in to appear shorter.

17. DESPITE THE CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY, CAMERON ALSO USED SOME OLD HOLLYWOOD TRICKS.

To achieve the effect of the T-1000 taking the shape of Sarah Connor during the final battle in the steel mill, Cameron didn’t use big, expensive CGI. Instead, he used actress Linda Hamilton’s twin sister Leslie to briefly appear as Sarah before the double is exposed to John as the T-1000 in disguise. Similarly, the police officer who the T-1000 takes the shape of at the mental hospital before meeting his demise was also played by twins.

18. LINDA HAMILTON GOT RIPPED TO PLAY THIS VERSION OF SARAH.

Hamilton was cast in the original Terminator because she was an everywoman, and the original script described her as “19, small and delicate features. Pretty in a flawed, accessible way. She doesn’t stop the party when she walks in, but you’d like to get to know her.” But for T2 she would subvert that description and have to become a killing machine burdened with knowing that the world will end and nobody believes her. To get her into peak physical condition, Hamilton trained with an ex-Israeli commando named Uzi Gal for three hours a day, six days a week, for four months. Onscreen she has about one percent body fat.

19. JUDGMENT DAY LOOKED VERY REAL.

To create the nuclear blast seen in Sarah’s dream of Judgment Day, the filmmakers mixed practical and CGI effects after studying hours of actual nuclear bomb test footage. Large-scale miniatures stood in for close-up shots of L.A. being destroyed, including cars being blown off the freeway and entire buildings being demolished. The miniatures were shot at high speeds and blown apart with air mortars. The wide-angle shot of the atomic shockwave was created using early Apple Macintosh software. Cameron claims actual physicists have told him the depiction of the nuclear blast in T2 is the most authentic representation of the effects of an atomic bomb.

20. PEOPLE HATED THE ORIGINAL ENDING.

Cameron shot an ending that went from Sarah and John staring at the molten metal that had just dissolved the Terminator to Hamilton in old age makeup talking into a recorder in a park in Washington D.C. about how Judgment Day had been avoided. She watches John, who she explains is now a U.S. senator, play with his daughter amongst other people in faux futuristic clothing. When shown to test audiences at screenings held at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, audience reactions were grim. They didn’t like the tonal shift of seeing their badass heroine in lumpy old age makeup, and they didn’t like the implausibility of John becoming a senator. Also, this ending doesn’t take into consideration the paradox of how Sarah would meet Kyle and give birth to John if the future apocalyptic war had been prevented.

Stuck not knowing what to do about changing the ending, Cameron called Hamilton in for a session to record additional dialogue and cut it together with 45 seconds of a beginning of a take that showed the road at night leading up to the Cyberdyne Systems building from a scene earlier in the movie. Audiences loved the ambiguity of the ending but appreciated the message Cameron wrote: “If a machine, a terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.”

21. ARNOLD CAME BACK FOR ROUND THREE … BUT AT A PRICE.

Schwarzenegger was paid $29.25 million to reprise his role as The Terminator in T3. His contract stipulated that $1.5 million of the budget should be set aside for private jets, a fully-equipped gym, deluxe hotel suites, limousines, and bodyguards for his personal benefit at all times during production. On top of that, Arnold also received 20 percent of the gross receipts on ticket sales, DVDs, TV rights, game licensing, and in-flight movie licensing on the movie worldwide.

22. THE PRODUCTION ON T3 WAS MASSIVE.

Several city blocks used during the crane chase sequence were created entirely by the production because they needed a level of destruction that wasn’t feasible if they shot on an actual street. The studio didn’t want to foot the bill for the sequence during the crane chase when the Terminator swings through an entire building facade while hanging from the crane, so Schwarzenegger put up his own money to complete the scene.

23. T3 COST EVEN MORE MONEY TO MAKE AT THE TIME.

Its production budget of $170 million made T3 the most expensive film ever made at the time. It has since been eclipsed many times over, and now stands as the 67th most expensive film ever made.

24. CHRISTIAN BALE WASN’T SUPPOSED TO PLAY JOHN CONNOR IN TERMINATOR SALVATION.

For the fourth installment of the series, actor Christian Bale was originally tapped to play the cyborg Marcus Wright (a role that eventually went to actor Sam Worthington), but he insisted on playing John Connor, a character that only appeared briefly in the original script. Bale’s demands forced the filmmakers to rewrite the script and make Bale’s Connor character a bigger part in the plot of the movie.

25. NEITHER BALE NOR SCHWARZENEGGER WERE FANS OF TERMINATOR SALVATION.

Schwarzenegger, who didn’t appear in the fourth installment of the franchise, didn’t like the movie. While promoting the upcoming chapter of the series, Terminator Genisys, he told interviewers, “I think the three that I was in all had their own little personalities and interesting storylines.” As for Salvation, Arnold said, “Thank god [I didn’t do it]. It sucked.” When asked about his contribution to the series, Bale wasn’t so happy about it either, saying, “I knew that we gave it a shot, it didn't work. I know the reasons for that. Wisdom sometimes is knowing when you have to walk away.”

Additional Sources:
The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron by Rebecca Keegan

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11 Magical Facts About Willow
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
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Five years after the release of Return of the Jedi (1983) and four years after Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), George Lucas gave audiences the story for another film about an unlikely hero on an epic journey, but this time he had three Magic Acorns and a taller friend instead of a whip and gun to help him along. Willow (1988) was directed by Ron Howard and starred former Ewok and future Leprechaun, Warwick Davis.

Over the past few decades, Willow—which was released 30 years ago today—has become a cult classic that's been passed down from generation to generation. Before you sit down to explore that world again (or for the first time), here are 11 things you might not have know about Willow.

1. IT WAS WRITTEN FOR WARWICK DAVIS.

In an interview with The A.V. Club, Warwick Davis revealed that George Lucas first mentioned the idea for the film to Davis’s mother during the filming of one of the Ewok TV specials in 1983, in which he was reprising his role as Wicket. Lucas had been developing the idea for more than a decade at that point, but working with Davis on Return of the Jedi helped him realize the vision. “George just simply said that he had this idea, and he was writing this story, with me in mind,” Davis said. “He didn't say at that time that it was going to be called Willow. He said, 'It's not for quite yet; it's for a few years ahead, when Warwick is a bit older.'" The role was Davis’s first time not wearing a mask or costume on screen.

2. IT WAS ORIGINALLY CALLED MUNCHKINS.

Five years after he mentioned the idea, Lucas was ready to make his film with Ron Howard directing and a then-17-year-old Davis as the lead. The original title was presumably inspired by the characters from L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the subsequent Victor Fleming film.

3. IT WAS CRITICIZED FOR BEING A COPY OF STAR WARS.

Having thought of the two worlds simultaneously, Lucas may have cribbed some of his own work and other well-known stories a little too much for Willow, and some critics noticed. “Without anything like [Star Wars’s] eager, enthusiastic tone, and indeed with an understandable weariness, Willow recapitulates images from Snow White, The Wizard of Oz, Gulliver's Travels, Mad Max, Peter Pan, Star Wars itself, The Hobbit saga, Japanese monster films of the 1950s, the Bible, and a million fairy tales," wrote Janet Maslin of The New York Times. "One tiny figure combines the best attributes of Tinkerbell, the Good Witch Glinda, and the White Rock Girl.”

Later in her review, Maslin continued to point out the similarities between the two films: “When the sorcerer tells Willow to follow his heart, he becomes the Obi-Wan Kenobi of a film that also has its Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3P0 and Princess Leia stand-ins. Much energy has gone into the creation of their names, some of which (General Kael) have recognizable sources and others (Burglekutt, Cherlindrea, Airk) have only tongue-twisting in mind. Not even the names have anything like Star Wars-level staying power.”

4. IT WAS THE LARGEST CASTING CALL FOR LITTLE PEOPLE IN MOVIE HISTORY.

Lucas has previously cast several little people for roles in Return of the Jedi, and there were more than 100 actors hired to portray Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. But, according to Davis, the casting call for Willow was the largest ever at the time with between 225 and 240 actors hired for the film.

5. THE DEATH DOGS WERE REAL DOGS IN COSTUME.

The big bad in the film, Bavmorda, has demon dogs that terrorize Willow’s village. The dogs are more boar-like than canine, but they were portrayed by Rottweilers. The prop team outfitted the dogs with rubber masks and used animatronic heads for close-up scenes.

6. IT WAS THE FIRST USE OF MORPHING IN A FILM.

While trying to use magic to turn an animal back into a human, Willow fails several times before eventually getting it right, but he does succeed in turning the animal into another animal, which is shown in stages. To achieve this, the visual effects teamed used a technique known as "morphing."

The film’s visual effects supervisor, Dennis Muren of Industrial Light & Magic, explained the technique to The Telegraph:

The way things had been up till that time, if a character had to change at some way from a dog into a person or something like that it could be done with a series of mechanical props. You would have to cut away to a person watching it, and then cut back to another prop which is pushing the ears out, for example, so it didn't look fake ... we shot five different pieces of film, of a goat, an ostrich, a tiger, a tortoise, and a woman and had one actually change into the shape of the other one without having to cut away. The technique is much more realistic because the cuts are done for dramatic reasons, rather than to stop it from looking bad.”

7. THE STORY WAS CONTINUED IN SEVERAL NOVELS.

Willow has yet to receive a sequel, but fans of the story can return to the world in a trilogy of books that author Chris Claremont wrote in collaboration with Lucas between 1995 and 2000. According to the Amazon synopsis of Shadow Moon, the first book picks up 13 years after the events of the film, and baby Elora Danan’s friendless upbringing has turned her into a “spoiled brat who seemingly takes joy in making miserable the lives around her. The fate of the Great Realms rests in her hands, and she couldn't care less. Only a stranger can lead her to her destiny.”

8. THERE IS A MISSING SCENE CONCERNING THE MAGIC ACORNS.

Hardcore fans of the film have noticed that there is a continuity error that involves the Magic Acorns Willow was given by the High Aldwin. During an interview with The Empire Podcast, Davis explained that in a scene near the end of the film, he throws a second acorn and is inexplicably out after having only used two of the three Magic Acorns he had been given earlier in the film. Included in the Blu-ray release is the cut scene, in which Willow uses an acorn (his second) in a boat during a storm and accidentally turns the boat to stone. Davis says that his hair is wet in the next scene that did make it into the original version of the film, but the acorn is never referenced.

9. JOHN CUSACK AUDITIONED FOR THE PART OF MADMARTIGAN.

Val Kilmer in 'Willow' (1988)
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Val Kilmer famously played the role of the reluctant hero two years after played Iceman in Top Gun (1986), but he was not the only big name to audition for the role. Davis revealed in a commentary track that he once read with John Cusack, who in 1987 had already starred in Sixteen Candles (1984), Stand by Me (1986), and Hot Pursuit (1987).

10. THERE IS A NOD TO SISKEL AND EBERT.

During a battle scene later in the film, Willow and his compatriots have to fight a two-headed beast outside of the castle. The name of the stop motion beast is the Eborsisk, which is a combination of the names of famed film critics, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.

11. THE BABY NEVER ACTED AGAIN.

A scene from 'Willow' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

As is the case with most shows and films, the role of the baby Elora was played by twins, in this case Kate and Ruth Greenfield. The IMDb pages for both actresses only has the one credit. In 2007, Davis shared a picture of him posing with a woman named Laura Hopkirk, who said that she played the baby for the scenes shot in New Zealand, but she is not credited online.

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30 Things You Might Not Know About Cheers
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On May 20, 1993—25 years ago today—television audiences said farewell to Sam Malone, the fictional Red Sox pitcher-turned-proprietor of Cheers. Though it's the Boston bar where everybody knows your name, there’s plenty you probably don’t know about the classic sitcom, which spent 11 seasons on the air.

1. CHEERS ALMOST DIDN’T MAKE IT THROUGH SEASON ONE.

Like many of television’s greatest success stories (e.g. Seinfeld), Cheers was not an immediate hit. It premiered on September 30, 1982 to dismal ratings—77th place out of 100 shows that week, according to Nielsen. It was NBC’s entertainment president at the time, Brandon Tartikoff, who saved the show from cancellation during its first season.

2. THE BULL & FINCH PUB, ON WHICH CHEERS IS MODELED, IS NOW CALLED CHEERS

Talk about life imitating art. After it was decided that the series would be set in a bar instead of a hotel, co-creators Glen and Les Charles decided the locale should be moved to New England. “Boston was chosen partially because only five short-lived television shows claimed the city and the East Coast pubs were real neighborhood hangouts,” wrote Dennis A. Bjorklund in his book, Toasting Cheers.

As the show’s popularity rose, it didn’t take long for word to spread that the Beacon Hill tavern was the “real” Cheers (though only the exterior shots were filmed there), turning the neighborhood hangout into a tourist attraction. To satisfy the masses, a second location—this one was actually called "Cheers" and featuring a replica of the bar viewers were used to—was opened in nearby Faneuil Hall in 2001. One year later, the Bull & Finch officially changed its name to Cheers.

3. SAM MALONE WAS ORIGINALLY A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER.

In the script’s earliest incarnations, Sam Malone was an ex-football player, which made sense considering that Fred Dryer—the former NFL defensive end who would go on to star in Hunter—was a top choice to play the role of Sam (opposite Julia Duffy as Diane; William Devane was also a strong contender). Ultimately, it was the chemistry between Ted Danson and Shelley Long that led to them getting the gigs. Once the casting was finalized, the creators swapped out football for baseball, based on Danson’s body type.

4. TED DANSON ATTENDED BARTENDING SCHOOL.

Danson spent two weeks at a bartending school in Burbank, California as part of his training to play Sam.

5. NORM AND CLIFF WEREN’T INTENDED TO BE REGULAR CHARACTERS.

Both George Wendt and John Ratzenberger auditioned for the same role in the pilot, a minor character named George who had a single line: “Beer!” The character’s name was changed to Norm Peterson when Wendt was cast. But Ratzenberger wasn’t about to give up so easily. “As I was leaving the office after the audition, I turned around and asked them, ‘Do you have a bar know-it-all?,’” the Bridgeport, Connecticut-born Ratzenberger recalled to Ability Magazine. “None of the creators was from New England. They were all Hollywood-centered. And I said, ‘Well, every local bar in New England has got a know-it-all—someone who pretends to have the knowledge of all mankind between his ears and is not shy about sharing it.’” Thus, Cliff Clavin was born.

6. NORM PETERSON IS BASED ON A REAL GUY.

In 2012, co-creator Les Charles told GQ that Norm was based on a real person. “I worked at a bar after college, and we had a guy who came in every night. He wasn't named Norm, [but he] was always going to have just one beer, and then he'd say, ‘Maybe I'll just have one more.’ We had to help him out of the bar every night. His wife would call, and he'd always say, ‘Tell her I'm not here.’”

7. NORM’S NEVER-SEEN WIFE VERA IS VOICED BY GEORGE WENDT’S REAL WIFE.

Though she’s only credited in one episode, George Wendt’s wife, Bernadette Birkett, provided the voice for Norm’s wife, Vera. Birkett did make one appearance on the show—as a love interest of Cliff’s—in season three.

8. JOHN RATZENBERGER IMPROVISED MANY OF CLIFF’S FUN FACTS.

Many of the random (and untrue) facts that Cliff Clavin offers up were ad libbed by Ratzenberger. “After a couple of years on the show they realized they could trust me not to mess it up,” Ratzenberger told Deseret News in 1993. “So little by little they've let me just sort of run off. Because I know when to stop … It's easy to improvise comedy. It really is. But the art is knowing when to shut up and let other people talk. That's a hard thing to learn.”

9. SOME OF THE DIALOGUE CAME FROM REAL BAR CONVERSATIONS.

In order to nail the bar talk aspect of the series, the creators regularly visited bars in the Los Angeles area to eavesdrop on patrons’ conversations. In the series premiere, there’s an argument about the sweatiest movie ever made, which was lifted from one of these overheard conversations.

10. CHEERS WASN’T AFRAID TO TACKLE SOCIAL ISSUES.

Cheers’ writers never shied away from taboo topics such as alcoholism or homosexuality, through they always had a sense of humor about them. The season one episode “The Boys in the Bar,” in which one of Sam’s former teammates announces that he is gay, earned writers Ken Levine and David Isaacs a GLAAD Media Award.

11. PLANS FOR AN HIV SCARE FOR SAM HAD TO BE ABANDONED.

In 1988, the Writers Guild of America went on strike, which meant that several planned episodes of the series were never filmed. Among them was a season six cliffhanger in which Sam learns that a former girlfriend is HIV positive.

12. RHEA WASN’T THE ONLY PERLMAN ON THE SET.

Rhea Perlman wasn’t the only member of her family to grace the set of Cheers. Her younger sister, Heide, produced more than two dozen episodes between 1985 and 1986 and wrote several episodes throughout the show’s run. Perlman’s father, Phil, played one of the bar regulars (named Phil).

13. JAY THOMAS MURDERED EDDIE LEBEC.


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When character actor Jay Thomas wasn’t portraying Carla’s Bruin-turned-ice-show-performer husband Eddie LeBec, he was the host of a popular morning radio show in Los Angeles. Which is exactly what led to his character being killed off rather prematurely by way of Zamboni. “A few episodes of recurring bliss and then one day on Jay’s radio show, a caller asked him what it was like to be on Cheers,” recounted writer Ken Levine. “He said something to the effect of, ‘It’s brutal. I have to kiss Rhea Perlman.’ Well, guess who happened to be listening ... Jay Thomas was never seen on Cheers again.”

14. A CHEERS MINI-EPISODE WAS PRODUCED FOR THE U.S. TREASURY.

Early in Cheers’ run, its creators were contracted by the U.S. Treasury to create a special mini-episode to promote the purchase of U.S. savings bonds. Titled “Uncle Sam Malone,” the episode never aired on television nor is it included on any of the DVDs; it was intended to be screened for promotional purposes at savings bond drives only.

15. A “LOST” SCENE ALSO AIRED AS PART OF THE 1983 SUPER BOWL XVII PREGAME SHOW.

Back in early 1983, writers Ken Levine and David Isaacs wrote a special one-off scene to air before Super Bowl XVII in which Sam, Diane, Carla, Norm, Cliff, and NBC announcer Pete Axthelm bet on who will win the big game. “They ran it just before game time and it was seen by 80,000,000 people,” Levine recalled of the spot on his blog. “Nothing we've ever written before or since has been seen by that many eyeballs at one time. But the scene was never repeated. It never appeared on any DVDs. It just disappeared.” (Until now: You can watch it at the link above.)

16. TED DANSON WORE A HAIRPIECE TO PLAY HAIR-OBSESSED SAM


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A fact that became apparent when he accepted the Emmy—sans hairpiece—in 1990. In the 1993 episode “It’s Lonely on the Top,” Sam shares his follicular challenge with Carla.

17. VIEWERS FREQUENTLY COMPLAINED ABOUT THE VOLUME OF THE LAUGH TRACK, EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS NO LAUGH TRACK.

In 1983, a quick disclaimer—spoken by one of the regular cast members—was added to the beginning of each episode: “Cheers was filmed before a live studio audience.” This was a direct response to viewer complaints that the “laugh track” was too loud.

18. THE PART OF FRASIER WAS WRITTEN FOR JOHN LITHGOW.


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After recent roles in All That Jazz, Blow Out, and The World According to Garp (for which he received his first of two consecutive Oscar nominations), Lithgow was not interested in working on the small screen. “I just said, 'No,’” Lithgow recalled to The Hollywood Reporter. “I barely even remembered that … It was like swatting away a fly … I just wasn’t going to do a series.”

19. KELSEY GRAMMER PLAYED FRASIER CRANE FOR 20 YEARS.

Grammer made his Cheers debut in the third season premiere in 1984. Though he was intended to be a short-lived character, Crane’s popularity with audiences led to him becoming a series regular. Four months after Cheers ended in May of 1993, Frasier made its debut (on the redesigned Cheers stage, no less) and ran for its own 11 seasons. Grammer’s two-decade run as the pretentious psychiatrist is a record-breaking one for an American comedy actor.

20. TONY SOPRANO'S MOM PLAYED FRASIER'S MOM, TOO.


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Nancy Marchand's character threatened to kill Diane. The role of Frasier's mom was played by Tom Hanks' wife Rita Wilson in a 2001 Frasier flashback.

21. KIRSTIE ALLEY IS THE ONLY MAIN CHARACTER WHO DIDN’T MAKE A GUEST APPEARANCE ON FRASIER.

Throughout Frasier’s 11-season run, Kirstie Alley was the only one of Cheers’ main actors to not make an appearance on the popular spinoff, possibly because the psychiatric profession conflicts with her beliefs as a Scientologist. “Kirstie once said ... she'd never do a show about a psychiatrist,” Kelsey Grammer told Entertainment Weekly in 2002.

22. FRASIER’S DAD WAS MAGICALLY RESURRECTED FOR THE SPINOFF.

When Frasier talked about his family on Cheers, he noted that his father—also a well-respected psychiatrist—had passed away. Yet his ex-cop dad, played by John Mahoney, is a main character in Frasier. Incidentally, Mahoney made a one-off appearance in Cheers’ eleventh season, as a fast-talking jingle writer named Sy Flembeck:

23. NORM’S FIRST NAME IS HILLARY.

His full name is Hillary Norman Peterson.

24. THAT WOODY PLAYED WOODY WAS A TOTAL COINCIDENCE.

Though many of the non-regular bar patrons’ real names were used in filming, that Woody Harrelson ended up playing Woody Boyd is by sheer coincidence. The character’s name was written into the script long before any actors had auditioned for the role.

25. NORM DRANK “NEAR BEER.”

The bar on the set may have been fully functional, but that doesn’t mean the cast got to spend the day throwing back cold ones. Norm may have had it the worst. As the bar’s resident lush, he’s rarely seen without a sudsy glass of beer in his hand. But what’s really in that glass is “near beer,” a weakened strain of ale mixed with a bit of salt to keep a perfect head on the glass at all times. Which Wendt unfortunately had to consume on more than one occasion.

26. THE SHOW HELPED PROMOTE THE IDEA OF A DESIGNATED DRIVER.

It was important to the producers of Cheers that no tipsy bar patron ever drove him or herself home, so there are frequent references to calling cabs and designated drivers. The Harvard Alcohol Project had a hand in spreading this message.

27. SAM AND DIANE DID GET MARRIED AT THE END OF SEASON FIVE.

Because Cheers was filmed in front of a live studio audience, the producers had to occasionally trick the audience so that show developments weren’t leaked. In order to keep Shelley Long’s departure from the series a secret, the live audience saw Sam and Diane get married at the end of season five. The real ending—which sees Diane leaving for six months to finish her book, only to return for a guest appearance in the final season—was filmed on a closed set.

28. CHEERS HABLA ESPAÑOL.

In September 2011, a Spanish version of the series—also called Cheers—made its debut. It starred Alberto San Juan as a former soccer player turned Irish pub owner and ran for just one season.

29. THE END OF THE SHOW IS ALL TED DANSON’S FAULT.

Though understandably so. When Danson announced that he’d be leaving the series at the end of the 1992-1993 season, producers decided that Woody could take over the bar. But Woody Harrelson wasn’t interested in continuing the show without Danson, and so its series finale was set.

30. THE CAST AND CREW GOT REALLY, REALLY DRUNK FOR THEIR SENDOFF.

NBC made a major event of the series finale, with cast and crew celebrating at Boston’s Bull & Finch Pub, where thousands of fans gathered outside to watch the show on two Jumbotrons. Then the drinks started flowing … and flowing … and flowing. “The show ended at eleven,” Ken Levine wrote in a 2013 remembrance of the evening for Vulture. “The next half-hour was an emotional tsunami. Everyone was hugging and crying and doing a lot of drinking. We were all completely wrecked.”

Then it was time for the cast to make an appearance on The Tonight Show. “The cast, in no condition to face anybody, much less 40 million people, dutifully trooped downstairs to do the live show,” Levine continued. “Us non-celeb types stayed back and watched on TV … in horror. They were so drunk they needed designated walkers. They giggled like schoolgirls over nothing, fired spitballs into each other’s mouths, squirted water guns, Woody Harrelson implied he gave oral sex to both Ted Danson and Oliver Stone, and Kirstie Alley sang a song where the only lyric was ‘dick, dick, dick.’”

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