The Iconic “Cheers” Opening Montage Has A Minnesota Connection
When it comes to streaming services I am usually in-and-out pretty quickly as opposed to maintaining a subscription long term. I will find a movie or show that I want to watch, then I try to complete the series or movie within one month to avoid paying a second time.
I was home sick for a few days last week so I decided I would re-watch "Cheers" on Peacock. I had seen a lot of the episodes as a little kid that was allowed to stay up way too late on occasion to keep my dad company. My fond memories led me to check out the show as an adult.
One of the best parts of the show is the Cheers theme song "Where Everybody Knows Your Name," written by then 25-year-old Gary Portnoy in 1982. Honestly, it's one of the only (if not THE only) theme song where I don't instantly click the "skip intro" button when it comes on. I just love it.
Part of the magic of the song is the accompanying montage of old-timey paintings and photos that accompany the tune.
After watching the montage about 10,000 times over the last week or so I got curious and wanted to find out more about these pictures. Were they real photos from the past or were they staged for the show, etc?
I was also wondering how they found an old photo that looked EXACTLY like George Wendt?!
I found a website called Fonts In Use that discussed mainly the fonts used in the credits but also included an interesting fact linking the opening montage to the great state of Minnesota.
The photo used to credit John Ratzenberger, who plays mailman Cliff Clavin on the show, was actually taken in Minnesota! The original photo (which can be viewed here) was colored by the creators of the show.
According to Shorpy.com the photo was taken in September 1937 in Craigville, Minnesota and is titled "Saturday night in a saloon." The original photo was taken by Russell Lee.
This begs the question "where the heck is Craigville, MN? It's waaaaay up in Northern Minnesota, about 51 miles north of Grand Rapids. In the 2000 census the population was just 267 people. Around the time the 'Cheers' photo was taken, Craigville was a logging town that hosted 5,000 lumberjacks seasonally (Wikipedia).