One of the great TV memories of my childhood is the Cheers opening sequence. I’m a great lover of TV theme songs, and I remember Cheers being one of my favorites. I’ve been rewatching Cheers, and the show is still great, but I find the old-timey images used during the opening sequence to be much odder than I remember. A casual search suggests that no one has ever done a true analysis of these pictures. I humbly accept the responsibility myself.
I’ll start with the pictures of people who look like the kind of folks I wouldn’t mind hanging out with in a bar. The more irksome characters are at the end of the list.
Oddly, I find this guy’s mustache to be wholesome and comforting. Maybe it’s because I lived in Brooklyn for so long. I know he works for tips, but I’m also impressed by how he manages to have one of the only non-lecherous smiles in the entire sequence. Sadly, after the death of Nicholas Colasanto, who played Coach, they removed this likable chap from the opening sequence.
Also known as the “We Win” guy. Bonus: The fair-haired dude hoisting a pint always makes me think of Matt Mullenweg.
The dude with the Jed Clampett hat and the five-o-clock shadow is pure salt-of-the-earth. I feel like most Woody Guthrie songs are about this guy.
Even as a kid, I remember feeling bad that they chose an overweight guy to represent Norm. As if his weight is his only salient quality. Why not show an accountant? In any case, I respect a guy who can pull off a suit of that color. To me, one of the great mysteries has always been: what is he handing to the woman in the red skirt? The TV remote wouldn’t be invented for another 40 years.
This woman seems like she’s the only drinker in the entire intro who is maintaining control over herself. I can respect that. The composition of this shot reminds me of that Renoir painting where everyone’s checking everyone else out.
The pale fellow in the jacket doesn’t look old enough to be drinking in this establishment, and his complexion makes me suspect that he’s nervous about being caught. I always imagine him as having been a 12-year-old drummer boy for the Confederate Army, returned to his local tavern as a 17-year-old amputee veteran. Notice that his legs are not visible in this picture.
The Cognac Brothers
Does he really need that cane? Or is he just trying to intimidate? Is he the bouncer, or just waiting for his carriageman to bring the team around? So many questions.
Rich Uncle Pennybags
You can’t afford what this guy is drinking.
Top Hat Asshole and Smarmy Newsboy
The two most insufferable people in the sequence are also the last two, and boy, do they leave a bad taste in your mouth. Both are clearly looking to start a fight. The guy on the left, apparently drinking a $20 Trappist ale, is barely managing to hide his disdain for everyone around him. The dude on the right appears to be bragging about hooking up with your sister. (The guy in the bottom right, who looks as if he may in fact be dead, has pretty much checked out of the party.) I hate them so much.
This shows why you are stuff of the Internet.
What about the guy under the table (bottom left of the screen) in the “Madam” picture? What is his story?
Admirer of Ankles… sexy ankles. The gentleman appears to be within boundary of the intoxicating Aroma of The Madam’s Lower extremities. Perhaps, the barely detectable gentleman, has just discovered body shots. Hence, the “Cat who just ate the mouse” visage on the lovely Madame.
Ill have a shot of that!
You REALLY don’t want to know…..😉
Top Hat Asshole always reminded me of Pee-wee Herman.
Actually, this last photo (of which you are so disdainful) is a small part of a photograph
of the employees of the Lemp Brewery in Leavenworth, KS, circa 1880. The photo was taken by Harrison Putney.
is there a link to the original photo?
Lisa- for years I have been in awe of this pic and wondering who the fella on the left was because he looks JUST LIKE MY DAD when he was that age! What a doppleganger ringer!!!!!!
Wish I could find out his name to see if there was any family connection
The We Win guy was an anti prohibitionist. I’m sure Top Hat Guy and his cohorts are nothing more than a bunch of young college men out on the town.
No it was 1948 when Boston braves clinched their only pennant
But it’s a good guess
I think the “critical analysis” here says more about the projections of the authors own mind than about the opening credits of ‘Cheers’. Certainly not a complete analysis by any standards, and overwhelmingly unsubstantiated opinions. All of this is very disappointing; the pictures are interesting enough to deserve an critical analysis.
I blame myself for not making my sarcasm obvious enough.
Boone Gorges this is one of the best things I’ve ever read. Makes it a bit more interesting watching the intro to cheers now. Kinda a back story that could have been. Thank you 🙏
Top hat asshole is my father. His name was William hafer. My mother had an ex friend agent find out who sold the pic to the makers of the pic in the show. My father who was in wwll as very young man, my grandfather signed for him to go into it early, came back with a really bad case of what is now called ptsd and would up and leave my mother with up to 3 children without saying he was leaving and come back up to six months later and tell my mother he had amnesia. This happened atleast 6 times that I know of.
My fathers pic is a mis of 3 pictures. The topcoat was not in the original and neither was the beer in his hand. My father used to tell my mother if he left he would use a new name so he could never be found, it was the name of the man that sold the rights to the picture to be used.
Should be a movie.
Friend should be fbi agent. Auto correct
The picture is too old for him to be a young man in WW2
Other guy says his name is johnny
I figured out the woman who shows up next to Kirstie Alley is my great grandmother, Ida Aucoin. She worked for J.V. Sullivan Dry Goods in the late 1890s in Newton MA and I have a photo of her posing with the owners. A copy of that photo must have found its way to an antique shop in Boston.
Below is the source of the “WE WIN” photo – Brooklyn, 1941:
I always assume that “WE WIN!” was in reference to WWII. A game seems kind of trivial in comparison.
Whoops, I mean the end of Prohibition. Still…
That’s a fantastic pun right there.
I believe it is in reference to a ballgame. If it were war, the newspaper would say VICTORY. “We Win” sounds less grand and I feel it trivializes the devastation of the war fought. Winning is something that can also apply to children’s games but victory denotes something that is hard won and long fought for. We Win sounds more like when the Brooklyn Dodgers took the pennant in 1920 or ‘41. Everyone in America felt the from the First World War or the impending Second. The feeling of your team winning draws allot of communities together. Cheers is a show about a place where everyone comes together.
my Grade school friend lived right next to that building… used to hang out there back in the early 80s
My ultimate ambition in life is to get into a backstreet fight with top hot asshole and smarmy newsboy.
*trash cans flying everywhere, newsboy unconscious on the ground with broken jaw and nasty concussion, top hot asshole desperately limping away with twisted ankle, broken nose, fractured cheekbone, and tears in his eyes*
Hammer, what you left of both of those irritating low-lifes—I would have to completely finish them off for good. Both are asking for a trip to the hospital. I once ran into one of those types of dimwits at a bar one night. Nearly came to blows before his friends jumped in to save him and I walked away. Clearly a certified idiot with a chip on his shoulder and a serious problem with holding his liquor in a mature fashion. Everytime I see their pics, I just want to jump into the pic and knock them both down on the ground and beat them senseless.
Yeah I’ve been there. Once had to straighten out some drunk dude bro who kept harassing customers at a bar near UMass Amherst and telling a girl I knew there that she was definitely going home with him later. I followed him out the back door and found him pissing on the dumpster, and when he turned around to come back in, I grabbed his head and shook it violently and told him to get out or he would be sorry. When I went back inside I heard people saying that he called the cops on me like a little bitch. At this point I decided to get out before they arrived to avoid the drama, but he followed me out yelling some shit. I started running across the street, not wanting to deal with cops pulling me off him if we started fighting. He chased me, screaming drunkenly like a dumbass and trying to look like a tough guy. I was much faster and outran him, hiding in somebody’s backyard as I heard him cursing me and crashing into shit desperately searching for me until he gave up and left. After a few minutes, I went back to the bar to see what had happened. The bartender told me the cops had come, and seeing that idiot yelling in front of the place, they made him leave or else go to the drunk tank. He poured me a beer on the house and said he wished he could have done what I did. He was just glad I got the guy out of there. The night only got better when the girl I knew still happened to be there, and she invited me Back to her place for the night. Good times.
lmao you are a coward my man.
Believe it or not, some drunk idiot dressed up like the disdainful dude in the top hat grabbed my girlfriend last night at a Halloween party and tried to kiss her. She screamed, U jumped in, he took a swing at me, missed and I decked him clean. Knocked out cold, we left him and everyone cheered saying they thought it was a gag. I bet the idiot who acted like a complete ass had two headaches the next morning; one from the booze, the other from my right hook!
This is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. I have the flu and am watching, or, binging on CHEERS and the opening images are great but after a while become haunting, so this was perfect medicine.
I wondered what you think of the big guy in the middle of the two snarky guys at the very end. He looks like the silent alpha male of the group. He and the two guys you detest are supposed to be the producers of the show I guess, and have those expressions of ownership of everything.
I agree with the Tom Joad thing. To me he looks like Jack Kerouac in his latter heavy, heavy drinking years. He’s my favorite guy. Doesn’t look like a Know-It-All like Cliff but he represents Cliff by being an everyman I guess.
The fat guy looks like Norm but wimpy. Kind of like… Norm Capote. I kinda wish you had the guy who was supposed to be Frasier in the later episodes; looks like Stacy Keach in HEMINGWAY. And the young Woody bartender.
Anyhow this was great.
The guy in the last frame to the right, looking half-soused, always reminded me of the artful dodger from oliver twist. Looks like circa 191O!
Does anyone know the stories behind the photos, like where are they from?
Yes. For the last photo (the smarmy guys), please see my answer above.
I actually found these
Some say the last pic is from 1948? It looks earlier like 1890-1918.
Who knows, it could be Whitey Bulger and his gang in the early days.
Most of them in that pic, look like troublemaking assholes, and the guy on the left looks like a younger Whitey.
Really…….lol……..at the end is jyst a few younger men having a good time thinking that they are on top of the world and there’s nothing wrong with that they’re not a holes they’re not stuck up there not gang members or maybe they are but in that picture what I see is just people drinking feeling good and having fun. And with the guy in the jacket is showing his legs sitting on a stool will one one-leg….go back to the pic and take a look.
I completely agree with you 100%! I love watching Cheers and the last image is my favorite, it’s what started me on this search to find the story behind that image! Their expressions with the lyrics “you want to be where everybody knows your name”, they look so invincible, so much confidence, and it reminded me of that feeling when you’re young and feel like you’re on top of the world and you feel like you’re finally finding your place in this big world (reminiscent of college days for me). I was actually surprised someone interpreted that image so negatively, then even more surprised when I found out so many people agreed with the OP’
Hi Breanna, yes same for me. I’ve always liked that pic as an image of cocky youthful confidence. Life or alcohol will suck it out of him soon enough!
I’m looking for a print of f ‘rich unlcle pennybags’ from the cheers open No, can you help me find where to buy it?
I throughly enjoyed reading this article and the comments,, thank you all for a good time. Cheers!
You are very punny!!
Here’s the ” Mustachioed Barkeep”.
Apparently, he was actually a Kansas Barber. https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/rbQAAOSwgVBam0j9/s-l1600.jpg
Rudy Sohn’s Barbershop in Junction City, Ks
Nice work 👍
The gentleman in the top hat with the somewhat large ears is a cousin of mine. His name was Johnny. He had a sister named Ruth who was known for giving great hugs. My grandma had pics of him through the years. I believe the most recent picture of him was from the 1960’s. He did eventually go blind for some reason.
I’d live to know his full name and family history. He is a dead ringer doppelgänger of my dad when he was that age!
I am curious about who that guy is too, because he is MY doppelganger as well.
Other gut says his name is William hafer
What about the guy in the top right corner with a hat pulled down over his face looking like a true gangster
I read on the trivia from watching this on amazon prime that the woody harelson picture is of a butcher. I also read a coment here about the guy under the table ob the kirsty alley picture of the man under the table…just wanted to say i noticed him aldo and he creeped me out.
Coach was my favorite character. I grew up watching cheers with my grandpa on thursday nights in oregon. I was a child then and woody was the bartender i knew and he was a young guy so as a kid i related more to him because he looked childish and acted silly. I had no idea there was ever a diane or a coach or how frazier came to be on the show i only knew of rebecca. My grandpa told me that there had once been a character named coach and told me about diane. I didnt see diane till the last few episodes.
Anyway as an adult i started watching from the begining and it was hard for me at first to accept the first characters…eho was this diane and eho was coach and where was woody…as i watched more i grew fondest of the coach character and appreciated woody harelsons portrayel of woody boyd..they made him innocent and sweet like coach instead of going in a different direstion. The love affair between diane and sam was more significant then the one he had with rebecca…diane was clearly the love of sams life.
This is Woody’s pic:
Most of pics of the opening credits to Cheers were bars or speakeasies from the late 19th early 20th century. Woody’s pic is actually a group of lumberjacks. John’s pic is called Saturday Night At A Saloon, taken by Russell Lee in Craigsville, MN in 1930. The mustachioed man is Rudy Sohn’s Barbershop in Junction City, KS. Ted’s pic from the 6th-11th seasons is Toll Gate Saloon in Black Hawk, CO, taken in 1897.
Truly insightful critical analysis (do you understand sarcasm?)
My burning question is: who is the woman in white walking past the entrance to Cheers in the very beginning of the opening? Was it one of the actors, like Rhea Pearlman or her sister/writer?
The guy in the upper left-hand corner of The Madam picture is Gastly. He looks like evil incarnate. He has murder in his eyes and is lit up like a Halloween picture. You expect his face to melt and turn into a skull. As I watched as a kid in the 80s all the old timey pictures gave me the creeps. I’m binge-watching them here in 2020 and it still gives me goosebumps. Seriously check the guy out.
No one (unless I missed it) mentions the black guy on the left of the long table shot. While I understand that historically there would be a dearth of images of African Americans this profile image is is a poor addition to the composition.
Forgetting the unlikelyhood of a black customer in any ‘upmarket’ bar in this period
I’m sure the Art Director could have found a better image than this one. If anything the inclusion reinforces a racial slur showing an out of place person who because of the clumsy cut and paste can’t even hold a wine glass. It’s the only jarring image in an otherwise ‘seamless’ collage.
One of my friends and I always wondered where these pictures from the Cheers’s opening credits came from. And now, we know where the pics came from.
Where everybody knows your name.
At the beginning of the credit sequence when the picture fades from the then modern day image to the entrance to Cheers back in the old days with the horse drawn carriage, who is the bearded man all dressed in blue and a cowboy hat who is looking at the “camera”? Reminds me of Stephen King every time I see it.
pic with John Ratzenberger was from a Farm Security Administration Photo of the Great Depression–it was saturday night at a Craigsfville, MN saloon…photo by russel lee.
The pic you said looked like a 12 year old without legs.. his legs are shown in the first season. He’s standing on one and has the other crossed over to the bar. He looks older then too.
Definitely John E Murphy in that picture circa 1897. A stoic man, part-time blacksmith and kept horses. The photo was on our wall for many years before being misplaced. His Uncle Merle was on the stage so he would have been rather pleased with the attention no doubt
Tophat guy always made me think of young ozzy osbourne lol
In the opening credits, I’d swear I see a man dressed in drag. In the seventh season on Amazon s/he is 1 minute 33 seconds in, standing to the right with one foot upper on the Kelsey Grammer credit S/he is wearing a black dress, black pumps, purple or pinkish scarf and black hat.
Does anyone else see it?