Skip to main content

The NBC comedy Cheers was the place “where everybody knows your name.” The staff and regulars at Cheers were all friendly amongst each other, and to any newbies who wandered in for a cold one. The show was so popular that lots of celebrities guest starred on Cheers, too. Most were lovely, but two stood out for their hostility.

'Cheers' guest star Bill Medley (not a d***) speaks to Woody Harrelson, Rhea Perlman and Kelsey GRammer
L-r: Bill Medley not one of the bad guest stars, Woody Harrelson, Rhea Perlman, and Kelsey Grammer | NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Cheers writer Ken Levine named those 2 on an episode of his Hollywood and Levine podcast about Cheers celebrity guest stars. Here’s why Ed McMahon and Wade Boggs were rude to Levine and the creators of Cheers.

Johnny Carson did ‘Cheers’ but his sidekick refused to guest star

Tonight Show host Johnny Carson appeared on a season 10 episode of Cheers shortly before his retirement. The show filmed on The Tonight Show set after a taping of his actual show. In the episode, Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) wrote a joke for Carson that bombs. Carson was game, but his sidekick, McMahon, was not.

“By the way, Ed McMahon was a d*** and wanted nothing to do with it and dashed right out,” Levine said on Hollywood & Levine. “We had to futz with that because we had some Ed McMahon stuff in there too. He ducked out. Like I said, he was a dick. Doc Severinsen stuck around. He was cool.”

This is a bit surprising since McMahon’s whole schtick was to be jolly and agreeable. Perhaps he felt only Carson paid him to do that, so he wasn’t doing it for Cheers.

Johnny Carson made up for Ed McMahon

Levine’s experience with Carson was glowingly positive. Hopefully that made up for McMahon’s slight.

“I have to say, Johnny Carson was the ultimate pro,” Levine said. “He knew his lines and he wasn’t like okay, guys, I got a dinner appointment here in 15 minutes so you got one take, let’s just do this thing. He did it and do you want to do it again? Do you want to do it a different way? Are you happy? We reshot some scenes a couple of times but the consummate pro.”

Wade Boggs was also an unfriendly ‘Cheers’ celebrity guest star

Levine already told his Boggs story. Boggs agreed to guest star on Cheers because he was having an affair with a woman in California. Boggs also borrowed her underwear and told his teammates he got Kirstie Alley’s. After his ex’s tell-all article came out, he wasn’t too happy to be reminded of Cheers.

I’m not going to tell that story again about how Wade Boggs was really just there so that he could sleep with his mistress for a couple of days. But, when that article came out, needless to say, Wade Boggs was peeved. A couple of years later, I’m now broadcasting Major League Baseball and I come across Wade Boggs in my travels whenever our team played his team. And I introduce myself. Hey, do you remember, I wrote the episode of Cheers. He could not have been less friendly. He absolutely ignored me. I brought up really bad memories. 

Ken Levine, Hollywood & Levine, 2/22/23

Given Boggs’ history of adultery and inappropriate sexual comments, being rude to a writer is the least of his offenses.