Rhea Perlman

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Rhea Perlman
Perlman in August 2011
Rhea Jo Perlman [1]

(1948-03-31) March 31, 1948 (age 71)
Residence Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Interlaken, New Jersey, U.S.
Alma mater Hunter College (B.A., 1968)
OccupationActress, author
Years active1972–present
Height5 ft 0 in (152 cm)
Danny DeVito (m. 1982)
Children3, including Lucy DeVito

Rhea Jo Perlman (born March 31, 1948) is an American actress and author, best known for her role as head-waitress Carla Tortelli on the sitcom Cheers from 1982 to 1993. [3] Over the course of 11 seasons, she was nominated for ten Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress – winning four times – and was nominated for a record six Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series.

Carla Tortelli Fictional character from the show Cheers

Carla Maria Victoria Angelina Teresa Apollonia Lozupone Tortelli LeBec, commonly known as Carla Tortelli, is a waitress on the American television show Cheers, portrayed by Rhea Perlman. Outwardly, at least, Carla is a mean-spirited woman who expresses disdain for many people. She had four children with her then-husband Nick when the series started and eight children with three different men when it ended.

<i>Cheers</i> American TV sitcom, 1982–1993

Cheers is an American sitcom that ran on NBC from September 30, 1982, to May 20, 1993, with a total of 275 half-hour episodes for eleven seasons. The show was produced by Charles/Burrows/Charles Productions in association with Paramount Network Television. The show was created by the team of James Burrows, Glen Charles, and Les Charles. The show is set in a bar named Cheers in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meet to drink, relax, and socialize. The show's main theme song, co-written and performed by Gary Portnoy, lent its refrain "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" as the show's catchphrase.

An Emmy Award, or simply Emmy, is an American award that recognizes excellence in the television industry, and is the equivalent of an Academy Award, the Tony Award, and the Grammy Award.


Early life and family

Rhea Perlman was born in Coney Island, Brooklyn, the daughter of Philip Perlman (1919–2015), a Polish immigrant who was a manager at a doll parts factory and Adele (1922-2016), a bookkeeper. [4] She grew up in Bensonhurst in a Jewish family with additional roots in Russia. [5] She has a sister, Heide, who is a television writer, story editor, and producer who worked on Cheers , Frasier and The Tracey Ullman Show . [6] In the mid-1980s, their parents moved to Los Angeles and their father became an extra on Cheers. His character became known by his real name, Phil, and he managed to get a few lines over the years as he appeared in more than 30 episodes. He created a second career as a character actor, appearing in several films and television shows, including Throw Momma from the Train , Hoffa , and Frasier . [4] [6]

Coney Island Neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City

Coney Island is a residential and commercial neighborhood and entertainment area in the southwestern part of the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. The neighborhood is bounded by Sea Gate to its west, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to its east, Lower New York Bay to the south, and Gravesend to the north. Coney Island was formerly the westernmost of the Outer Barrier islands on the southern shore of Long Island, but in the early 20th century it became a peninsula, connected to the rest of Long Island by land fill.

Brooklyn Borough in New York City and county in New York state, United States

Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York City, with an estimated 2,648,771 residents in 2017. Named after the Dutch village of Breukelen, it borders the borough of Queens at the western end of Long Island. Brooklyn has several bridge and tunnel connections to the borough of Manhattan across the East River, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connects it with Staten Island. Since 1896, Brooklyn has been coterminous with Kings County, the most populous county in the U.S. state of New York and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, after New York County.

Bensonhurst, Brooklyn Neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City

Bensonhurst is a large, multiethnic neighborhood in the southwestern part of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, in the United States. It is bounded by 14th Avenue to the northwest, 60th Street and McDonald Avenue to the northeast, 86th Street to the southwest, and 25th Avenue and Avenue P to the southeast. Bensonhurst's adjacent neighborhoods include Dyker Heights to the northwest, Borough Park and Mapleton to the northeast, Bath Beach to the southwest, and Gravesend to the southeast.

She studied drama at Hunter College in New York, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1968. [2] [7] [6]

Hunter College university

Hunter College is one of the constituent colleges of the City University of New York, an American public university. It is located in the Lenox Hill neighborhood of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. The college offers studies in more than one hundred undergraduate and postgraduate fields across five schools. It also administers Hunter College High School and Hunter College Elementary School.

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.


Perlman at the 1988 Emmy Awards Rhea Perlman (1988).jpg
Perlman at the 1988 Emmy Awards

Perlman began her acting career with a small role as an attendant in the off-off-Broadway play Dracula Sabbat, which ran from September 1970 to June 1971. [2] [8] In 1972, she played a bit role in the film Hot Dogs for Gauguin . That same year she appeared in Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective's production of Up – An Uppity Revue, along with her future husband, Danny DeVito. [9]

Hot Dogs for Gauguin (1972) is a short film written and directed by Martin Brest, then a film student at New York University. The short film features Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman in her acting debut.

Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective

The Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective was a group of professional women playwrights in New York active from 1971 to 1975. They wrote and produced feminist plays and were one of the first feminist theatre groups in the United States to do so. The members' individual works had been produced at the Public Theater, La Mama, Joe Chaikin’s Open Theater, Caffe Cino, Circle Repertory Company, Mark Taper Forum, Lincoln Center, and New York Theater Ensemble.

Danny DeVito American actor, comedian, director and producer

Daniel Michael DeVito Jr. is an American actor and filmmaker. He gained prominence for his portrayal of the taxi dispatcher Louie De Palma in the television series Taxi (1978–1983), which won him a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award. He currently plays Frank Reynolds on the FX and FXX sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005–present).

One of her first notable parts was a recurring role on the television show Taxi as Zena, the sweet girlfriend of Louie De Palma (played by DeVito).

<i>Taxi</i> (TV series) American TV sitcom, 1978–1983

Taxi is an American sitcom that originally aired on ABC from September 12, 1978 to May 6, 1982 and on NBC from September 30, 1982 to June 15, 1983. The series won 18 Emmy Awards, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series. It focuses on the everyday lives of a handful of New York City taxi drivers and their abusive dispatcher. Taxi was produced by the John Charles Walters Company, in association with Paramount Network Television, and was created by James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, David Davis, and Ed Weinberger.

Following that, she had a role in a small play portraying a much tougher character. [10] Producers Glen and Les Charles saw her in that play, which led to her landing the role as wisecracking barmaid Carla Tortelli on their sitcom Cheers in 1982. The series struggled with ratings in its first season, but by the time it ended in 1993, it was one of the most popular and successful shows of all time, winning 20 Emmy awards out of 95 nominations. [10] [11]

Glen Gerald Charles and Les Charles are American writers and producers, notably of Taxi and Cheers. They were raised in Henderson, Nevada, as Latter-Day Saints.

Perlman won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy four times: in 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1989. [12] Over her 11 seasons on Cheers, she was nominated for an Emmy every year but 1992, becoming the Cheers star to have the most wins and nominations. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress six times, more than anyone else in that category. In 2011, CBS named Carla Tortelli as one of the greatest TV characters of all time. [13]

In 1986, Perlman starred in an episode of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories titled "The Wedding Ring," which also starred DeVito as her character's husband.

In the 1990s, Perlman starred in several TV movies and motion pictures. In 1992, she starred in the made-for-TV-movie, To Grandmother's House We Go opposite Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen, playing the wife of Jerry Van Dyke's character; the couple kidnapped the Olsen Twins' characters, hoping to cash in on ransom before Christmas. Other TV films in which she starred included the dramas A Place to Be Loved and In Spite of Love.

Perlman's motion picture roles included There Goes The Neighborhood (1992), Canadian Bacon (1995), Carpool (1996), Sunset Park (1996), and Matilda (1996). She had a cameo in the film 10 Items Or Less (2006), and also starred in the 2007 independent film Love Comes Lately.

In 1994, Perlman voiced 9-Eye in The Timekeeper, a Circle-Vision show at the Magic Kingdom in Tomorrowland.

She later starred in the 1996 sitcom Pearl as the title character and was featured on the 2001 TV drama Kate Brasher. Among her notable guest appearances was on the fourth-season premiere of Becker , which starred Cheers co-star Ted Danson.

Perlman also appeared in a 2000 television film How to Marry a Billionaire: A Christmas Tale, in which she impersonated Jacqueline Kennedy. She also portrayed a therapist called Dr. Parella in the 2000 film Secret Cutting, which follows the story of a young girl named Dawn who self-injures. In 2007, Perlman appeared as Bertha in the West End of London in the comedy Boeing Boeing. In 2008, she starred in the Hallmark Channel original movie, The Christmas Choir, and appeared in Beethoven's Big Break in 2008 as Patricia Benji. In 2009, she appeared as Tanya's mother on the series Hung for Home Box Office Networks. In 2011, Perlman had a guest appearance as Mittens in one episode of Wilfred.

In 2009, Perlman and her daughter Lucy DeVito starred in the off-Broadway play Love, Loss, and What I Wore , adapted by Nora and Delia Ephron, at the Westside Theatre. [3]

From 2014 to 2017, she starred in a recurring role on The Mindy Project as Danny's mother, Annette Castellano.


Perlman is the author of the illustrated children's book series Otto Undercover, whose six books to date (as of the middle of May 2012) are Born to Drive,Canyon Catastrophe,Water Balloon Doom,Toxic Taffy Takeover,The Brink of Ex-stink-tion, and Brain Freeze.

Personal life

Perlman with husband Danny DeVito in 2006. Rhea Perlman Danny DeVito 2006.jpg
Perlman with husband Danny DeVito in 2006.

Perlman met actor Danny DeVito on January 17, 1971, when she went to see a friend in the single performance of the play The Shrinking Bride, which also featured DeVito. [14] They moved in together two weeks after meeting. [15] The couple married on January 28, 1982. [16] They have three children: Lucy Chet DeVito (born March 1983), Grace Fan DeVito (born March 1985), and Jacob Daniel DeVito (born October 1987). [17] Perlman, who is Jewish, and DeVito, who was raised Catholic, raised their children celebrating the major holidays of both religions but did not give their children any religious identity. Perlman told the Los Angeles Times in 1998: "We do all the holidays to keep the traditions and the culture going, but I truly don't have a great feeling about any particular organized religion, and I don't think it's right to impose one on my kids. I feel like I'm bringing them up to be good people, and that's what it's about." [5]

The family had resided in Beverly Hills, California, and had also spent time at their vacation home in Interlaken, New Jersey. [18]

Throughout their relationship, Perlman and DeVito have acted alongside each other several times, including in the TV show Taxi and the feature film Matilda . [17]

Perlman and DeVito separated in October 2012. [17] However, in March 2013, it was reported that they had reconciled. [19] The couple later separated again for a second time in March 2017 on amicable terms. [20] Although the two no longer lived together, Perlman said she had no intent of filing for divorce from DeVito. [21]

Perlman is an active Democrat. [22]



1972 Hot Dogs for Gauguin Woman on FerryShort film
1979 Swap Meet Mother
1982 National Lampoon's Movie Madness The Little Jewish Prostitute
1982 Love Child June Burns
1986 My Little Pony: The Movie ReekaVoice
1990 Enid Is Sleeping Mavis
1991 The Last Halloween Mrs. Gizborne
1991 Ted and Venus Grace
1992 Class Act Ms. Simpson
1992 There Goes the Neighborhood Lydia Nunn
1993 We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story Mother BirdVoice
1995 Canadian Bacon Honey
1996 Sunset Park Phyllis Saroka
1996 Carpool Martha
1996 Matilda Zinnia Wormwood
2001Old LoveUnknownShort film
2006 10 Items Or Less Mrs. D
2007BloomMaShort film
2007 Love Comes Lately Riesel
2008Cat Dragged InWoman in StreetShort film
2008 Beethoven's Big Break Patricia
2011 The Trouble With Bliss Maria
2012 The Sessions Mikvah Lady
2015 I'll See You in My Dreams Sally
2016 Sing JudithVoice [23]
2017 Lemon Esther
2018 Half Magic Linda
2019 Poms Alice


1976Selling of Vince D'AngeloMrs. D'AngeloTelevision movie
1976Stalk the Wild ChildJeanTelevision movie
1976I Want to Keep My Baby!Rae FinerTelevision movie
1977 Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night JudyTelevision movie
1977Having Babies IICheryl (uncredited)Television movie
1977Intimate StrangersUnknownTelevision movie
1979Like Normal PeopleJanTelevision movie
1979–1982 Taxi Zena Sherman5 episodes
1982Drop Out FatherTawney ShapiroTelevision movie
1982–1993 Cheers Carla Tortelli
Annette Lozupone (one episode)
275 episodes
American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Female in a Television Series
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (1984–86, 1989)
Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Comedy Series
Nominated—American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Female in a Television Series
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1985, 1987–90, 1992)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (1983, 1987–88, 1990–91, 1993)
1983Unlikely Stories, Vol. 2Vince's WifeTelevision movie
1983Saturday Night LiveHerself (co-host)Episode: "Danny DeVito & Rhea Perlman/Eddy Grant"
1984 The Ratings Game Francine KesterTelevision movie
1985A Girl Named AlidaRose JohnsonVoice; Television movie
1985 St. Elsewhere Carla TortelliEpisode: "Cheers"
1986 Amazing Stories LoisEpisode: "The Wedding Ring"
1986AnnieRose JohnsonVoice; 12 Episodes
1987 The Tortellis Carla TortelliEpisode: "Pilot"
1987Stamp of a KillerClaudiaTelevision movie
1988A Family AgainAunt DeeTelevision movie
1989Alida's Problem?Rose JohnsonVoice; Television movie
1990 The Earth Day Special PaulaTelevision special
1991 Blossom The GodmotherEpisode: "Dad's Girlfriend"
1992 Roc Connie MasonEpisode: "The Stan Who Came to Dinner"
1992 To Grandmother's House We Go ShirleyTelevision movie
1993 A Place to Be Loved Jerri BlairTelevision movie
1994 The Simpsons Carla TortelliVoice; Episode: "Fear of Flying"
1994In Spite of LoveEmmaTelevision movie
1994All-Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever!Worm TV HostTelevision movie
1995 The Critic Ardeth (second season)Voice; 2 episodes
1996–1997 Pearl Pearl Caraldo22 episodes
1997 Union Square Mrs. Eileen MulrooneyEpisode: "Harassed"
1997 Almost Perfect Rhea PerlmanEpisode: "Dating for Ratings"
1998In the DoghousePhil MarkowitzTelevision movie
1998 Houdini EstherTelevision movie
1999 H-E Double Hockey Sticks Mrs. BeelzebubTelevision movie
1999 Mad About You RamonaEpisode: "Valentine's Day"
2000A Tale of Two BunniesThelmaTelevision movie
2000 Secret Cutting Dr. ParellaTelevision movie
2000 How to Marry a Billionaire: A Christmas Tale Jacqueline KennedyTelevision movie
2001 Ally McBeal Dr. Helen ToothEpisode: "Falling Up"
2001 Kate Brasher Abbie Shaeffer6 episodes
2001 Becker Dr. Katherine SimmonsEpisode: "Psycho Therapy"
2002 Frasier Carla TortelliEpisode: "Cheerful Goodbyes"
2002 What's New, Scooby-Doo? AgnesVoice; Episode: "A Scooby-Doo Halloween"
2003 Karen Sisco Louise SalchekEpisode: "Dumb Bunnies"
2003Other People's BusinessMrs. WabashTelevision movie
2004 Kevin Hill Eleanor FrankEpisode: "Homework"
2006 Crumbs Camile SpadaroEpisode: "A Loon Again, Naturally"
2006Stroller WarsPennyTelevision movie
2008 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Roxana FoxEpisode: "Unorthodox"
2008 The Christmas Choir Sister AgathaTelevision movie
2009–2010 Hung Vera-Joan Skagle4 episodes
2011 Wilfred MittensEpisode: "Compassion"
2011 Oliver's Ghost EloiseTelevision movie
2012 Hot in Cleveland JackiEpisode: "Everything Goes Better with Vampires"
2012The ManzanisCamillePilot
2012–2013 Robot and Monster NessieVoice; 13 episodes
2013 Robot Chicken Crypt Keeper's Wife / Grandmother / WitchVoice; Episode: "Caffeine-Induced Aneurysm"
2013–2014 Kirstie Thelma12 episodes
2014 The Neighbors JanetEpisode: "Uncle Benjamin"
2014–2017 The Mindy Project Annette Castellano17 episodes
2015 Getting On Crystal BuffEpisode: "No, I Don't Want a Fucking Smiley Face"
2016 Mom [24] AnyaEpisode: "Diabetic Lesbians and a Blushing Bride"
2016 Brooklyn Nine-Nine EstelleEpisode: "Coral Palms, Part 1"
2017 Me and My Grandma [25] Grandma Skalecki6 episodes
2017 Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories MaureenEpisode: "The Duke"
2018 Shooter Associate Justice GibsonEpisodes: "Red Light" and "Patron Saint"

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