The true-life Sam Malone is leaving Cheers. For almost 35 years, bartender Eddie Doyle was the guy who really did know everybody’s name in Boston. Like so many in this country, he’s been laid off.
Cheers, ran for 11 seasons on NBC and made stars of little known performers like Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger, Kelsey Grammer, Woody Harrelson, Kirstie Alley, Shelley Long, Bebe Neuwirth, and Nicholas Colasanto.
Though the show performed very poorly in its first season, ratings-starved NBC stuck with it and the show soon became a hit and a cornerstone of the network’s Thursday night line-up.
The Cheers bar was based on the Bull & Finch tavern near Beacon Hill in Boston. Though it looks quite different on the inside, millions of tourists have flocked there to see the inspiration for their favorite television watering hole.
The bar was reasonably popular but once the sitcom became popular, Doyle began serving 5,000 people a day. He’s signed thousands of autographs over the years and helped to raise big bucks for charity. He’s introduced dozens of singles who went on to marry and held numerous fundraisers that attracted thousands — from the homeless to the rich and famous.
Doyle’s layoff comes as a result of the economic slump, says bar owner Tom Kershaw. He delivered the bad news a couple weeks ago and says he’ll continue to send the barkeep a check until the end of the year. He told The Boston Globe, “It was very tough. Personally, for me, it was a disaster. Eddie and I have been friends for 40 years.”
Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn shared the sentiments and said, “They say it’s a bar where everybody knows your name but it’s really a bar where everybody knows Eddie Doyle.”
The 66-year-old bartender isn’t bitter about being let go. He says that he plans to spend more time with his wife and cat and may write a book about his experiences.