Ted Danson Reveals How He Solved His Chaotic Love Life

Ted Danson’s charming presence as the wounded barman on Cheers was just one of the many reasons audiences tuned in. But after the show wrapped, Ted found his life in turmoil, until one woman stepped in and turned things around.

After The Thrill

Performing as the leading man on Cheers was one of the highlights of Ted Danson’s career. As the show was winding down, however, Danson profoundly felt the void the show left and was grasping at straws as to how to pull himself back up.

Grasping For Someone

As Ted prepared for Cheers to go off the air, he began to feel aimless, and was looking for ways to fill his void. Though he was happily married at the time, he would be surprised to discover that his relationship was not as strong as he would have thought. As for his career, he was at the top of the game, but he still felt something was lacking. His next film, Made in America couldn’t start soon enough.

Whooping With Joy

As surprised as the public was when it became clear that the co-stars, Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson were romantically involved, no one could have been more surprised than they were. The unlikely pairing had lit up the screen on the film, but no one had expected that their chemistry would translate to real life. The new pairing was undeniable as they appeared nearly inseparable at one too many events, but in their bliss, there was still trouble to contend with.

On Air Blush

Made in America was not the first time Ted and Whoopi Goldberg had met. Their very first introduction was on the Joan Rivers Show, on which they couldn’t have acted more like the new acquaintances they were. It was their joint appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show a year later that raised eyebrows. As Hall made an exclamation that women could either be funny or beautiful, Ted adamantly disagreed, shocking audiences with his parting statement as he prepared to leave.

Here She Comes

Ted’s proclamation wasn’t something that the audiences expected to hear. As Whoopi Goldberg prepared for her entrance, he said, “You’re wrong. Here comes a very sexy, very funny lady.” Whoopi was extremely surprised by the statement, as she wasn’t used to being flattered for her appearance. Whoopi recalled, “I floated on out to that couch,” she has said. “This was the first time that anyone had intimated publicly that I was actually very feminine and very pretty.”

Obstacle To Love

There was just one problem with the burgeoning romance between Ted and Whoopi: Ted was already married. Danson was so enamored of his costar, however, that he was prepared to stop at nothing to keep them apart. He quickly moved out of his family home, leaving his two children with his second wife, Casey. Ted was ready to shack up with Whoopi, to whom he was promising the world, but his new love would come at a cost.

Roasted To A Crisp

From the start, Ted Danson’s judgement when it came to his relationship with Whoopi was not his finest hour. His poor taste really culminated in his infamous roast of Whoopi Goldberg at the Friar’s Club in 1993. Though actors and comedians who participate are encouraged to take a no holds barred approach to the jokes they tell. Unfortunately, Danson took this a little too far when he appeared with darkened skin and made prodigious use of a much maligned slur.

Plastered In Print

It might be hard to believe now, but the relationship between Whoopie and Ted was one of the most highly talked about pieces of celebrity gossip throughout the duration of their relationship. Every tabloid cover had pictures of them together and speculation on how their relationship would progress. From the start, it looked to be extremely serious, especially considering that Ted left his wife for Whoopi. However, the tide of change was only just beginning to wash over him.

Backlash Revists

Whoopi Goldberg may have been one of the few public figures to defend Danson’s roast after it was all said and done. Some even whispered that the offensive routine was written by Whoopi herself. However, that didn’t stop Ted from receiving continued backlash. Even the often vulgar Howard Stern saw fit to parody the event with the help of Sherman Hemsley, who played George Jefferson, to come onto his show playing the role of Whoopi, while Stern played Danson.


Parents In The Way

It was reported several years ago that there were a few people close to Danson who very much did not approve of the relationship between the two actors. Allegedly, Danson’s parents put continued pressure on Danson to end things with Whoopi, despite the fact that he had told her he wanted to marry her the minute his second divorce was finalized. The elder Dansons, it seems, might not have relented on their disapproval, but then again, maybe it wasn’t a match made in heaven.

Sticking Together

By the time Danson was romantically involved with Whoopi, he was no stranger to difficult relationships, though his previous challenges were far less under his control. When his second wife Casey Coates gave birth to their first daughter in 1979, Casey suffered a stroke shortly after due to undiagnosed high blood pressure. The resulting trauma was almost too much for the young family to bear. Casey found her entire left side paralyzed, leaving Ted to care for her and the newborn.

Hopelessly Devoted To You

Danson was so committed to his wife that he spent the first three weeks after her stroke sleeping on the hospital floor every single night. Coates was told she may never walk again. Casey recalled the stressful time to People  in 1982.  “I couldn’t bear to be alone. It was too devastating, she said. “For the first month, I did nothing but cry. I gave Ted permission to leave me. I thought I was going to be a wipe-out the rest of my life.”

Only Girl In The World

Ted Danson’s family tragedy was mitigated by the career success he found soon after with the beginning of Cheers. By 1989, he was riding high with Cheers in its heyday, and a healthy, loving wife on his arm. He would tell reporters, “We are committed to each other, totally. The idea of my having more relationships boggles my mind.” Somehow, by 1992, Danson was singing a different tune, and was ready to break free from the marriage he’d put so much work into.

Harmless Flirting

Outside of his comments about Whoopi on Arsenio Hall, their working relationship began innocently enough. Their intentions should have been seen for what they were when Ted and Whoopi began playing cute pranks on one another on the set of Made in America. Whoopi made the first play by hiring an orchestra to follow Ted around during the times he was waiting in his trailer. In return, Ted filled hers with balloons. Even so, the rest of the cast thought it was all in good fun.

When Things Fall Apart

Just weeks after Whoopi vehemently defended her beau following his performance at her roast, Ted’s life seemed to unravel in one fell swoop. Cheers wrapped, leaving him feeling downtrodden without the constant of work on a TV show, he was still facing backlash for his misguided introduction, and then the couple abruptly issued a statement saying that their year and a half long tryst had come to an end. Ted needed to find a new spark.

Placing Blame

Rumor may have it that Ted’s parents were the reason behind his breakup, but other friends of theirs gave a very different explanation for the split. Both were under unimagined scrutiny from the paparazzi. According to Danson’s publicist at the time, the way they were being followed was unprecedented for either star. Annette Wolf, Danson’s publicist told People, “They’ve never been exposed to anything like it individually.” Anyone can feel an undue amount of pressure when examined under a microscope, but how would Ted pick up the pieces?

Not His First Rodeo

As down in the dumps Ted may have been watching is life unravel following the conclusion of Cheers, it’s hard to say whether or not he was better equipped to handle his divorce having already gone through it once. During his undergraduate studies at Carnegie Mellon, Danson fell in love with another theatre lover named Randall ‘Randy’ Gosch.  Before graduation the two had wed, but as their respective careers began to bloom, their relationship fell apart.

The Key To Casey

Danson’s first divorce seemed to signal that he was moving on to bigger and better things, given that he received his first acting jobs around the time that he separated from Gosch. The two easily divided their lives, given that there were no kids involved. In order to process this new change of state, Danson enrolled in an EST seminar in 1976, only to find that it’s methods were so compelling, he met the woman who would become his second wife.

Picking Up The Pieces

As much as Ted worried for his career, it wouldn’t be long before he was back on set, only after a decade playing th leading man in a sitcom, he wanted audiences to see what a serious actor he was. Pontiac Moon only ticked some of the boxes, but he got lucky when it came to the actress chosen to play his onscreen wife. Danson called himself at the time “a mess-and-a-half,” but those are the moments life often surprises you most.

Fit Like A Glove

As much as he was still trying to process his breakup with Whoopi and the finalization of his divorce, Danson was charmed by his costar, Mary Steenburgen. It helped that she had baggage of her own that she was contending with, given that she was also a divorced parent of two, and had the shadow of long term illness hovering over her life. Nevertheless, the two managed to support each other through the difficult times, rather than letting their own needs conquer all.

A Light In The Storm

Ted explained his state of mind when he met Mary to AARP Magazine in a recent interview. “I thought, I’m incapable of being in a relationship. But I was working on myself,” he said. “Ironic how life works in those moments. Once you throw your arms up and surrender, a lot of times things come your way.” Even after a heavily scrutinized relationship, Ted paid no mind to wagging tongues as he set up house with Mary.

What Endures

These days, Danson is happily married to Mary Steenburgen, and their marriage is one to be envied, especially in the fickle world of Hollywood marriages. Both are actors in their own right, but they’ve never let their respective careers get in the way of their love for each other. Even in the golden years of their lives, their romance resembles that of a younger couple. However, the road to heaven was one that was so easily traveled by the pair.

A Genuine Affection

Reports from the set of Made in America purported that the growing romance between Ted and Whoopi wasn’t something that sent others in their vicinity running for the hills. One PA on set told People at the time, “There was an extreme affection and respect between them. It wasn’t syrupy lovey-dovey stuff, just genuine.” In a similar vein, Ted told the magazine, “I’d walk in Whoopi’s shadow for the rest of my life—I adore the woman.”

Lingering Resentment

Ted Danson gave his divorce two years of space before jumping into marriage for the third time, but that says little of the promises he made before his divorce to Casey was finalized. Some reports have surfaced that despite protestations to the contrary, Whoopi Goldberg still resents the fact that Ted married Mary, and not her. Though she was seen dating someone new just weeks after the announcement of her split with Ted, sources claim she never got over the heartbreak.

Splitting Hairs

Ted may have promised Whoopi the world, but the truth was that his wife Casey would be receiving most of it. When they finally settled their divorce, Danson was required to pay his former spouse a staggering settlement. At $30 million, it was one of the most expensive divorce settlements of all time, though it has since been topped by a number of other high profile divorces. He may have had love, but things weren’t quite going as well as Ted would have liked them to.

Losing A Crutch

In the middle of Ted’s career, he was hit by yet another blow to his happiness. At 57 years old, his elderly mother came down with pneumonia. However, she insisted she didn’t want treatment, nor did she want to end her days in a hospital. Instead she suffered for two weeks at home, during which time Ted was by her side. He described his reaction to her death to AARP, “I was like a 9-year-old sobbing. I really didn’t know how I could go on without her.”

Height Of Passion

Even during interviews about himself, Danson can’t help but talk about how wonderful his wife is. “I like the way Mary laughs and smiles,” he tells AARP. “I like her willingness to say yes to leap off tall buildings of life. I love her sense of fairness and right and wrong. And I don’t think you’re supposed to say this when you’re almost 70, but she’s very sexy.”  Danson’s affection for Mary Steenburgen shines through at every turn.

Accepting The Past

If there’s one thing Danson learned through his multiple rocky relationships, is that imperfection is just a fact of life. “If I had made one step differently or corrected my mistakes — which are cringers — would I take that away if it were to alter anything about where I am now? No. Life is just messy. The older I get, the more I see it’s OK to be imperfect. Because you can still grow and make changes in your life. It’s not like you’re finished at 70 or 75.”

Keeping The Flame

After two marriages and a high profile relationship, making one last this long is not always an easy task. Ted and Mary have a few secrets up their sleeves as to how they’ve managed to go from the trauma of divorce to continuing their marital bliss 22 years after they first wed. Then again, it’s not entirely unheard of for oft-wed celebrities to finally make it stick with one person after years of marital strife. According to their costars, however, their relationship is above average.

The Envy Of The Room

Ted Danson’s career has been almost as much of a rollercoaster has his love life has been, but he’s finally found himself back on top with a hit TV show, even at the age of 70. His costar on The Good Place, Kristen Bell, has even spoken out about how enviable Ted and Mary’s relationship is. “It’s almost intimidating spending time with Ted and Mary because of how solid and loving and connected they are,” she said.

The Smallest Gestures

Ted has been effusive about how much he still loves his wife, comparing their marriage to being “heaven on earth.” The adorable pair is constantly surprising each other, which includes a stunt Mary orchestrated on a recent trip Ted was taking. Sorry to be separated by duty, Ted was intending on traveling alone. When he arrived for his flight, he found a strange “diva” sitting in his seat, with dark glasses and a hat on. It took him minutes to realize it was Mary herself.

Addressing The Rumors

For all the talk about how incredible their marriage still is, recently rumors began flying about a potential split between the aspirational pair. The confusion stemmed from a storyline on the show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, where the couple made a guest appearance as themselves, but in an alternate universe where they were getting divorced. Funnily enough, Danson forgot to inform his wife that they’d be splitting up onscreen when he convinced her to make a guest appearance on the show.

Secret To Success

In a business where many relationships fizzle within a year or two, what’s the secret that Ted managed to discover on his third go around? For starters, he explains that the couple are always keeping busy with various activities, whether Ted is following Mary to her music gigs or they’re simply taking a nap together. In an interview with Kathie Lee and Hoda, he put it down to marrying the right woman. “I’m married to Mary Steenburgen,” he said.