Rhea Perlman

Active - 1976 - 2020  |   Born - Mar 31, 1948 in Brooklyn, New York, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Fans familiar with diminutive American actress Rhea Perlman only through her Emmy-winning characterization of wasp-tongued waitress Carla Tortelli on the TV sitcom Cheers are usually taken aback to discover that Perlman is as shy and soft-spoken as Carla was pushy and abrasive. A working actress since the 1960s, Perlman played Carla from 1983 until Cheers' swan song ten years later. Most of her "outside" projects during that period, notably the 1984 TV movie The Ratings Game and a 1986 episode of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories, were done in conjunction with her longtime companion, Danny DeVito, who also played her boyfriend on the late-'70s comedy series Taxi. Kindred spirits, Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito eventually marched down the matrimonial aisle as a loudspeaker played a recording of Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer singing "I'm in the Mood for Love."

Movie Highlights

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  • Met future husband Danny DeVito in 1970 after watching an off-Broadway play in which he appeared.
  • Breakout role was in Hot Dogs for Gauguin (1972), which also marked her and DeVito's first film together.
  • Forayed into TV sitcoms in 1979 as Zena Sherman, the girlfriend of DeVito's character Louie De Palma, in Taxi.
  • Formed the production company New Street Productions with DeVito.
  • One of three actors to appear in every episode of Cheers (George Wendt and Ted Danson are the other two).
  • Published a series of children's books titled Otto Undercover.
  • Acted opposite her daughter Lucy in both New York and L.A. productions of the play Love, Loss, and What I Wore.
  • Well-known for her support of children's charities; among them are Children's Action Network and Children's Hospital Los Angeles Diabetes Center.