The Lucille Ball Cheers Cameo That Never Came To Be

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Written By Sedoso Feb

Considering that Diane Chambers, the inimitable bar waitress played by Shelley Long, got a surprise visit from her mother Helen (Glynis Johns in her sole appearance on the show) as far back as in season 1, episode 20, 1983’s “Someone Single, Someone Blue,” it seems Ball was eager to hop aboard the “Cheers” train well before other big-names started circling the bandwagon. Given her knack for slapstick and repartee, writer-producer and longtime “Cheers” creative consultant David Isaacs argued that Long herself was very much an heir apparent to Ball’s comedy throne. As he told THR:

“For my money, Shelley’s just after Lucille Ball for great physicality and comedy. Pound for pound I think she’s one of the best comic actresses I’ve been around. She brought a uniqueness to Diane that came out of her and she was totally willing to make the laugh be on her.”

Isaacs was right on the money, as both “Cheers” fans and anyone who’s caught Shelley Long’s other comedic work can attest (especially her performances as the Bradys’ matriarch in the 1990s “Brady Bunch” movies and her turn in “Troop Beverly Hills,” which /Film’s BJ Colangelo has declared Long’s “magnum opus”). Hiring Ball as her mother for the “Cheers” universe would have certainly been a fitting nod to this, as well as a cheeky way of allowing Ball to properly pass the torch to Long. Then again, would audiences have even gone for that type of winking casting at the time? Far be it from me to try and assert I know better in this respect than a showbiz legend like Ball.

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