From Sweeping Floors to Emmy Nominations

From Sweeping Floors to Emmy Nominations

Who is George Wendt?

American actor, producer and director George Robert Wendt Jr. was born of Irish and German descent in Chicago, Illinois USA on 17 October 1948, making Libra his zodiac sign. He’s appeared in over 160 movies and TV series, but is probably still known best for starring as Norm Peterson in all the 271 episodes of the critically acclaimed comedy series “Cheers”, which also starred Rhea Perlman and Ted Danson, and was created by Glen Charles and James Burrows. It follows the people working and visiting the Boston bar ‘Cheers’, the series aired from 1982 through 1993 and won 78 of its 259 award nominations.

George’s still today highly active in the movie industry, and is currently shooting for the upcoming films “Love’s Second Act” and “Compound Fractures”.

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Education and early life

George was raised in Chicago alongside his two brothers and six sisters, by their father George Robert Wendt who was a realtor and US Navy officer, and mother Loretta Mary (nee Howard) who was a housewife. George’s maternal grandfather was Thomas James ‘Tom’ Howard Jr, the late American photographer.

George was into several activities during his four years at Campion High School, but was mostly into appearing in school plays and practicing creative writing. He matriculated in 1967 and then enrolled at University of Notre Dame, however, he was expelled during his third year because his grade point average (GPA) was 0.00.

George eventually enrolled at Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Missouri from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.

Roles in movies

George joined the improvisational comedy enterprise The Second City as an alumnus in 1975, and his first job was as a floor sweeper.

His debut film appearance was playing Caterer in the 1978 comedy “A Wedding”, while some of his following roles were in the action adventure comedy “Bronco Billy”, the family comedy “My Bodyguard” and the romantic fantasy “Somewhere in Time”, all released in 1980.

The year 1982 saw him play Injured Man in the popular science fiction comedy “Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again”, which starred Bess Armstrong and Mark Blankfield, and was written and directed by Jerry Belson; it follows Dr. Daniel Jekyll who’s invented a white powder which ‘unleashes the animal in every person’. George was then cast to play and voice characters in several award-winning movies, such as the 1983 short animated adventure “Garfield on the Town” (voice role), and in 1984 the action adventure horror “Dreamscape” and the romantic comedy “The Ratings Game”.

What also marked the ‘80s for George was playing Fat Sam in the 1985 crime mystery comedy “Fletch”, which starred Joe Don Baker and Chevy Chase, and was directed by Michael Ritchie. It follows a newspaper reporter who’s taken on a dangerous job, and the film was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture. Some of George’s notable performances in the remainder of the ‘80s were in the 1988 action comedy “Never Say Die”, the 1989 short adventure “Cranium Command” and the 1990 comedy “Masters of Menace”.

In 1991, he portrayed one of the main characters Bunny Baxter in the drama “Guilty by Suspicion”, which also starred Annette Benning and Robert De Niro, and was written and directed by Irwin Winkler. It follows a movie director working in Hollywood in 1951, and the film won two of its four award nominations. George could then have been seen playing supporting characters in several critically acclaimed movies, such as the 1992 romantic science fiction “Forever Young”, the 1994 comedy “Hostage for a Day” and the 1994 romantic family comedy “The Little Rascals”.

In 1997, he played Film Producer in the family musical comedy “Spice World”, which starred Emma Bunton and Mel B, and was directed by Bob Spiers. The film follows the Spice Girls as they’re performing around London, and it won three of its 14 award nominations. Some of George’s roles in the remainder of the ‘90s were in 1999 in the adventure family comedy “Alice in Wonderland” and the romantic comedy “Outside Providence”, and the 2000 drama “Lakeboat”.

What marked the 2000s for George was perhaps portraying Pawn Shop Owner in the 2005 thriller “Edmond”, which starred Julia Stiles and William H. Macy, and was directed by Stuart Gordon. It follows Edmond Burke who’s been sent into the New York City’s underworld by a fortune-teller, and the film won three of its five award nominations. Some of his other notable performances in the 2000s were in the 2006 fantasy comedy “Santa Baby”, the 2007 comedy “LA Blues”, and the 2009 family comedy “Opposite Day”.

The year 2017 saw George play Testimonial in the comedy “Sandy Wexler”, which starred Jennifer Hudson and Adam Sandler, and was directed by Steven Brill. It follows the life of a talent manager working in Los Angeles in the ‘90s, and the film won one of its three award nominations.

Some of George’s most recent film roles have been in the 2020 comedy “Stealing a Survivor”, the 2021 comedy “Americanish”, and the 2022 romantic comedy “Christmas with the Campbells”.

Roles in TV series

George’s debut TV series role was playing Sergeant Tate in the 1981 episode “Murder Is a Drag” of the action crime adventure “Hart to Hart”, and the same year saw him appear in an episode of both the romantic comedy “Soap” and the comedy “Taxi”.

He spent the remainder of the ‘80s focused on shooting for “Cheers”, and the first half of the ‘90s saw him appear in an episode of several series, including the comedies “The Building”, “The Larry Sanders Show” and “The Martin Short Show”. In 1997, George played Les Polanski in 13 episodes of the popular comedy “The Naked Truth”, which starred Holland Taylor and Tea Leoni, and was created by Chris Thompson. It follows a photojournalist who’s just lost her job, and the series won only a single award.

George had only a couple of TV series roles in the 2000s, and what marked the decade for him was perhaps playing Tug Clarke in all the seven episodes of the 2006 comedy “Modern Men”, which starred Max Greenfield and Eric Lively, and was created by Ross McCall and Marsh McCall; it follows three single men who’ve hired a life coach to help them with their love lives. The 2000s also saw George make a guest appearance in the mystery “Masters of Horror”, the comedy “The Green Green Grass” and the sports comedy “Cubed”.

In 2015, George starred as Buzzy in all the 10 episodes of the comedy mini-series “Clipped”, which also starred Ashley Tisdale and Mike Castle, and was created by David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. It follows a group of friends working at a barbershop, and the mini-series was nominated for a 2016 Art Directors Guild Award for Excellence in Production Design.

George’s three most recent TV series roles have been in 11 episodes of the animated adventure comedy “Fancy Nancy” from 2018 through 2022 (voice role), the 2019 episode “Food in a Geoffy” of the comedy “The Goldbergs”, and five episodes of the 2021 “The Pack Podcast”.

Other credits

George directed the 1988 episode “Airport V” of the series “Cheers” and produced the 2003 crime thriller movie “King of the Ants”.

He received special thanks for the 2004 short documentary movie “Strictly Top-Shelf: The Guys Behind the Bar”, and the 2008 short documentary film “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Making ’12 Angry Men’”.

Some of his recent talk-show appearances have been in “Entertainment Tonight”, “Stars in the House” and “Let’s Be Real”.

Awards and nominations

George has won one of his nine award nominations: a 2019 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival Award for Best Actor, for his performance in the 2019 crime action horror movie “VFW”.

He was also nominated for six Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series from 1984 through 1989, all for his performance in “Cheers”, a 1990 Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Comedy Series, also for “Cheers” and a 1999 Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, for “Rupert’s Land”.

Love life and marriage

George’s a secretive man who prefers to keep his wife and their children away from media, but he’s still allowed his fans a glimpse into his love life.

He and American actress Bernadette Birkett married in a private ceremony on 8 July 1978, attended by only their closest friends; Bernadette’s appeared in 33 movies and TV series, and is perhaps known best for playing Jack’s Mother in the 2001 romantic crime comedy movie “Heartbreakers”, which was nominated for four awards.

Bernadette gave birth to their daughter Hilary Wendt in 1985, and their son Joe Wendt followed in 1987; they welcomed their second son Daniel Wendt in 1990. George and Bernadette kept their children away from media, wanting them to have normal lives.

George’s yet to speak about the women whom he had been with prior to meeting Bernadette; he’s married to Bernadette Birkett as of May 2023, and they have three children together.

Interesting facts and hobbies

George, American actress Rhea Perlman and American actor Ted Danson are the only three people to appear in all the episodes of “Cheers”.

George has portrayed and voiced Norm Peterson (his “Cheers” character) in seven other TV series, which include “Family Guy”, “Frasier” and “The Simpsons”.

He’s a huge fan of football, and cheers for the University of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish; George attends every game that they play against the University of Southern California’s Trojans in Pasadena, California which is every two years.

He and American actress Margot Kidder were born on the exact dame day.

George launched his Twitter account in August 2009, but has tweeted only 33 times; he’s nevertheless followed by over 2,200 people on the network.

One of his favorite actors is the late Leslie Nielsen, while some of George’s favorite movies are “Spy Hard”, “Mr. Magoo” and “Superhero Movie”.

Height, eyes and wealth

George’s age is 74. He has brown eyes and hair, is 5ft 9ins (1.77m) tall and weighs around 200lbs (90kgs).

George’s net worth’s been estimated at over $25 million as of May 2023.

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