Edward Bridge (Ted) Danson III was born 29 December, 1947, in San Diego. He grew up near Flagstaff, Arizona. He attended school at Kent School, a private college prep institution in Connecticut, and played basketball there. He later enrolled at Stanford University, where he became interested in acting. He transferred to Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he graduated with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree in Drama in 1972. His first acting job was as an understudy on the off-Broadway play "The Real Inspector Hound." He moved to Los Angeles in 1978, where he continued to study acting at the Actor's Institute. He began appearing in the soap opera "Somerset", and worked in commercials and as a guest actor in television. The shows he appeared in included "Laverne and Shirley", "Benson", "B.J. and the Bear", "Family", and "Magnum, P.I.".
A role on the TV show "Taxi" brought Danson to the notice of the Cheers producers. He was asked to audition for the role of Sam Malone, and was one of three finalists, along with Fred Dryer and William Devane. Dryer was the initial choice, as the producers envisioned Sam as a former football player, and Dryer had played professional football. The NBC executives favored Danson, however, based on his on-screen chemistry with Shelley Long. Danson was cast, and the backstory of Sam Malone was changed to make him an ex-baseball player, to better fit Danson. Dryer was later cast as Dave Richards, a friend of Sam's.
Danson starred in all eleven season of Cheers. He was nominated for an Emmy for all eleven seasons, winning twice. He also won two Golden Globes for his work on Cheers.
Cheers came to an end after eleven seasons based mostly on Danson's desire to leave the show. After Cheers, Danson continued to appear in television and film. Some of his more notable television roles were on "Becker", where he starred for six seasons, and "Ink", a comedy in which he both starred and produced. Danson plays himself as a recurring character in the comedy "Curb Your Enthusiasm". He also regular cast member as D.B. Russell in "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" from 2011 to 2015 (ended after 15 years of CSI) and "CSI: Cyber" from 2015 to 2016 (before it was cancelled for two seasons).
Danson is currently playing Michael in NBC fantasy-comedy series "The Good Place".
Danson's most famous film role is probably the comedy "Three Men and a Baby". He also appeared in "Saving Private Ryan".
Danson has reprised the role of Sam Malone a few times since Cheers ended. He appeared on the Cheers spinoff, "Frasier", in the episode "The Show Where Sam Shows Up". and also in an episode of "The Simpsons", along with several of his Cheers co-stars.
Danson was presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999.
Danson has been married three times. His first marriage, to Randy (Gosch) Danson, lasted from 1970 to 1975. He married Cassandra Coates in 1977. She suffered a stroke while giving birth to their daughter, and Danson spent several years helping her recuperate.
Danson started an affair with actress Whoopi Goldberg in the 1990s. He appeared at a Friar's Club roast for Goldberg in blackface, a joke which backfired badly on him. The affair and the appearance earned him much negative publicity and brought an end to his second marriage.
Danson married his current wife, Mary Steenburgen, in 1995. She was his co-star in "Ink". In addition to his own two daughters by his second wife, he is a stepfather to her two children.
Danson is a vegan, and involved in several environmental causes. He co-wrote and published a book on saving the world's oceans in 2011. He is also active politically, supporting several Democratic candidates. He is said to be close friends with former President Bill Clinton. The Clintons attended his wedding to Steenbergen, and he attended their daughter's wedding as well.
One of his daughters, Kate, has followed him in the acting business.
He also has an extensive early Colonial American ancestry, being the direct descendant of three Mayflower pilgrims, three colonial governors, a famous Indian fighter. He also has a direct link to the historic Puritan leader Anne Hutchinson who in turn is a direct descendant of the ancient European emperor Charlemagne and other historic English royalty.