Norm's wife appears just one time on Cheers — kind of
Is there a more tried-and-true gag in comedy than the ol' pie in the face? The Three Stooges "soitenly" got a lot of mileage out of it. That being said, no sitcom earned a bigger laugh from a pie projectile than the Cheers episode "Thanksgiving Orphans." Diane may fling just a single pie (chocolate cream, it seems) in the final moment, but it is a punctuation mark after a chaotic food fight that saw Diane, Woody, Cliff, Sam, Carla and Fraiser lob cranberries, stuffing, casseroles, turkey and mashed potatoes across the table.
Diane's darling pilgrim costume looks like the bib on a sloppy baby. As this was filmed in front of a live audience, we can only wonder what the studio must have smelled like.
Anyway, the punchline is that Diane misses her intended target, Sam, and tosses the pie smack in the face of… Vera Peterson, Norm's wife.
For four-plus seasons, we have only heard about Vera. Norm jokes about (and dodges phone calls from) his spouse at the bar, but the character is never seen. Not until "Thanksgiving Orphans." At least, the Cheers gang — and the viewers — can meet Vera.
But her face is covered in a thick layer of sweet brown slop.
"Charming friends, dear," she says. "Get your coat." Roll credits.
The voice you hear deliver that line is that of Bernadette Birkett, the real-life spouse of George Wendt, who plays Norm. What a cute way to have a couple work together. But she is merely the sound of Vera.
A different actress stood there, dripping dessert. Rebecca Soladay, whose only other significant screen appearance is as a Vulcan in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, is said to have portrayed the physical embodiment of Vera in an uncredited appearance.
What's fascinating is that both Birkett and Soladay show their faces in a different Cheers holiday episode — as a love interest for Cliff!
Rewind to season three, "Fairy Tales Can Come True," the first of several Halloween stories on the series. Cliff, dressed as Ponce de Leon, flirts with a masked Tinkerbell at the bar. She is portrayed by Birkett. The two agree to meet again without the masks. Naturally, this being a sitcom, that second date does not happen as planned.
Cliff attempts to chat up a different woman who sits smoking on a stool. That would be Soladay!
Birkett would provide the voice of Vera a few more time in Cheers. The character's legs and waving arms can be spotted a couple of other times. The pie-in-the-face would be the best look at Vera, one of the greatest (mostly) unseen characters in TV history.
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