In his blog this week, Ken Levine spoke about the little trivial bits of business that were done on 'Cheers' that the audience ignored when it came to believability or impact on the series. Of all items on the list - from the placement of the phone to customers actually paying for drinks - there was one in particular which caught my non-network logo eye: He mentions that "In the second episode [of Cheers] it was established that Sam was divorced, then never mentioned again."
No need for me to verify that trivia tidbit; Mr. Levine must know what he's talking about, since he was a writer and co-producer for the series.
'Cheers' has been off the air for well over a decade; even its sequel, 'Frasier' is gone now. So the possibility that any speculation on the identity of the former Mrs. Malone might contradict the established "history" of the character isn't very likely. And I don't think that, should it ever come back in a reunion special, Sam's first wife will be the major plot point for the show.
Before he retired to open the bar "Cheers", Sam Malone had been a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. This doesn't necessarily mean that he always played for that team, nor should we infer that he remained in the area because he already had established roots there from growing up in Beantown. (If his family was from the Boston area, we should have seen more of his brother Derek, and perhaps meet his parents - if they were still alive.)
I think he chose to open his bar in Boston because that was the site of his greatest fame and that would be something he could rely upon to help keep the customers coming in - the chance to see a "local legend" from their beloved Sox. So I'm thinking that Sam was originally from elsewhere, but most likely the East Coast, before he joined the team.
I'm also going to assume that, like Carl Yastrzemski before him, Sam Malone spent his entire baseball career with only one major league team. (And woohoo for me - I spelled Carl's last name right on the first try!)
It's my own assumption that if most major league ballplayers came to "the Show" already married, their wives were high school sweethearts or at least somebody they knew from their lives before joining the team. If that was the case for Sam, then we've got the entire Tele-Folks Directory at our disposal to find candidates for Mrs. Malone!
I'm going to go with the idea that Sam didn't fall in love and get married until he got to Boston. That would narrow down the list to characters from TV shows that were set in the Beantown locale.
One of my favorite research sites for televisiology is TV Acres (as always, the link is to the left) where Mr. Holst has an incredible collection of trivia tidbits for all sorts of categories - from "aardvarks" to "Yugoslavians". Under "geographical locations", I culled this list of shows that take place in Boston, Massachusetts:
The Adams Chronicles/PBS/1976
Against the Law/FOX/1990-91
All Souls/UPN/2001 All Soul's Hospital
Boston Common/NBC/1996-97 Randolph Harrington College
Boston Public/FOX/2000-04 Winslow High School
Crossing Jordon/NBC/2001+ Boston's Coroner's Office
The Great Defender/FOX/1995
Hothouse/ABC/1988 Near Boston
It Had To Be You/CBS/1993
James at 15/NBC/1977-78
The Law and Harry McGraw/CBS/1987-88
The Paper Chase/CBS/1978-79 The Paper Chase: The Second Year/SHO/1983-84
The Paper Chase: The Third Year/SHO/1985
The Paper Chase: The Graduation Year/SHO/1986
Paul Sand In Friends And Lovers/CBS/1974-75
The Righteous Apples/PBS/1980.
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch/ABC/WB/1996-2003 Adams College
Spenser: For Hire/ABC/1985-88
To Have & To Hold/CBS/1998
21 Beacon Street/NBC/ABC/1959-60
Two Guys, A Girl And A Pizza Place (Two Guys & A Girl)/ABC/1998-2001
The Young Lawyers/ABC/1970-71
Out of all those options, there were two in which I found pozz'ble candidates for the first Mrs. Sam Malone; one was a specific case and from the other, it's more of a generality.
First up: Carlie Kirkland, from 'Banacek' (played by Christine Belford)
If Carlie was ever married to Sam, it had to have been before 'Banacek' aired (1972-74), when they were both in their early twenties. But Sam's inevitable philandering would have driven Carlie to seek a divorce, and could account for why she had such a bitter attitude towards Banacek - perhaps she saw a lot of her former husband in the insurance investigator?
(And we know Sam had to be fooling around during his marriage - in the 'Cheers' episode "Sam Time Next Year" from 1991, we learned that Sam had been carrying on a one night a year affair for at least twenty years with one Lauren Hudson - the name by which he knew Mandy Stephenson aka "Agent 99"......)
The other example would be 'Beacon Hill', the American copy of 'Upstairs, Downstairs', which was set during the 1920s. There is no specific character, obviously, from that show but one of the descendants of the Lassiter family could have met Sam and eventually married him. It would certainly have made all the papers in Boston at the time - young heiress from a Kennedyesque family falls in love with handsome young sports star.
But the pressures of that celebrity, with Sam on the road most of the year, and the notoriety - again, from Sam's dalliances - would have taken their toll on their marriage.
What's great about this option is that the candidate is nebulous enough that we don't even have to narrow it down to a specific actress... or even what her first name was. And she could be a direct descendant of the Lassiter family, yet with a different last name. This would be due to her being the daughter of any child borne by Fawn Lassiter (assuming she gave birth after marriage, which would have changed her surname).
I could have looked among the female characters from the cast of 'St. Elsewhere', but as that show is already linked to 'Cheers' I didn't have much interest in fortifying the connection.
Besides, I'm in the camp that believes that the events of 'St. Elsewhere' actually took place. I didn't want to get into that whole argument that it all took place in the mind of the autistic Tommy Westphall. (And which is apparently what I've just done anyway.....)
'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'