Family & Companions
A hefty, curly-haired supporting player, George Wendt gained national recognition as Norm Peterson, the beer-swilling accountant-turned-housepainter-and-sometime-decorator on the long-running NBC sitcom "Cheers" (1982-93), parlaying his sudsmeister image into a run as pitchman for a national brewery. A native of Chicago, Wendt spent two years traveling throughout Europe and North Africa after earning a degree in economics, before returning home and enrolling in the Second City comedy troupe's acting workshop. Graduating to their company, he performed with the group from 1974-80. The NBC comedy pilot featuring Second City players, "Nothing But Comedy," brought him to Los Angeles where he made his feature debut in "My Bodyguard" (1980).
After "Cheers" put him on the map, Wendt started getting larger movie roles. He followed supporting turns in "Dreamscape" (1984) and "Fletch" (1985) with a memorable portrayal of Buster, a welder at the auto plant who finds himself chafing under the new Japanese regime, in Ron Howard's "Gung Ho" (1986). Co-starring with Robert De Niro and Annette Bening in veteran producer Irwin Winkler's writing and directing debut, "Guilty By Suspicion" (1991), Wendt offered a strong, solid turn as a screenwriter struggling with the issue of whether or not to name names when called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Although he has appeared in subsequent movies like "Forever Young" (1992), "The Man of the House" (1995) and "The LoveMaster" (1997), Wendt has remained best known for his small screen performances.
Anxious to capitalize on his extreme popularity from "Cheers," CBS launched "The George Wendt Show" (1995), which disappeared quickly, possibly because its format (Wendt as a radio call-in show host) was shamelessly similar to fellow "Cheers" alum Kelsey Grammer's "Frasier." NBC penciled him in as a newspaper editor in its revamp of the sitcom "The Naked Truth" (1997) but almost as quickly rubbed him out when the show's concept was again changed. He starred in the Fox movie "Hostage For a Day" (1994) as a man who stages his own abduction to get away from his overbearing wife and miserable job and portrayed Mr. MacAfee in the 1995 ABC remake of the musical "Bye Bye Birdie." Wendt has co-starred as one of the title characters in "Roger Corman Presents Alien Avengers" (Showtime, 1996) and its sequel "Alien Avengers II" (The Movie Channel, 1997). His performance as of the owner of a firm that sells funeral insurance in "The Price of Heaven" (CBS, 1997), directed by Peter Bogdanovich, garnered him critical praise and invoked comparisons to Orson Welles and Burl Ives.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Joined the Second City comedy troupe
Made feature debut with "My Bodyguard"
Cast as barfly Norm Peterson on the NBC sitcom "Cheers"; nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1984-89)
Had a supporting role in "Dreamscape"
Played Fat Sam in "Fletch", starring Chevy Chase
Portrayed Buster, a welder at the plant who finds himself chafing under the new Japanese regime, in "Gung Ho"
Received third-billing (behnd Robert De Niro and Annette Bening) in Irwin Winkler's Hollywood blacklist drama, "Guilty By Suspicion"; played a screenwriter who is the best friend of De Niro's character
Made NYC stage debut, "Wild Men!"
Starred in Fox TV-movie "Hostage For a Day" as a man who stages his own abduction to get away from his overbearing wife and miserable job; directed by John Candy
Headlined the short-lived CBS sitcom "The George Wendt Show"
Appeared as Mr. MacAfee in ABC remake of "Bye Bye Birdie"
Played Sam in CBS TV-movie "The Price of Heaven," directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Returned to series TV as co-star of the NBC sitcom "The Naked Truth"; stayed with the show for half a season
Appeared alongside Stacy Keach and David Dukes in the London production of "Art"
Made Broadway bow in "Art" with Judd Hirsh and Joe Morton
Starred in the Off-Broadway production "Empty Plate"
Had a recurring role on the ABC series "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch"
Played a high school coach in the coming-of-age comedy "Kids in America"
Appeared as Santa on the Comedy Central special, "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!"
Cast as Santa in the Broadway musical adaptation of the 2003 comedy "Elf"