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Televisions Greatest Alcoholics of the 1960s-80s

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Today’s television has it’s share of conspicuous consumption, but in the 1960s through the early 1980s the glass was overflowing.  Here is a cupful of the most memorable.


Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin (Cheers)


WOODY: How’s it going, Mr. Peterson?
NORM: Poor.
WOODY: I’m sorry to hear that.
NORM: No, I mean pour.

Norm and Cliff definitely win the award for most loveable drunks.  Yes, in real life, a guy that makes a bar his second home is generally a smelly trainwreck of a human being.  But not these guys – two of the most likeable beer swilling barflies you’d ever want to meet.


Otis Campbell (The Andy Griffith Show)


ANDY: Were you drunk when Deputy Fife arrested you?
OTIS: I can’t rightly tell; I wasn’t wearing my glasses.

I’m sure Otis (Hal Smith) smelled like piss and vomit, but from a distance, he was simply adorable.


Dean Martin (The Dean Martin Show, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast)


“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”

Dino made a career out of being a loveable drunk.  Sometimes I think too much emphasis was placed on his drinking, because he was actually an extremely charismatic actor and awesome singer…. but then I’m reminded of his martini glass shaped pool, and the countless tipsy moments on stage (not to mention his boozing Matt Helm character) and I wonder if maybe he brought it on himself.  He’s still my favorite Rat Packer, nonetheless.


Archie Bunker (All in the Family)


“The Bible’s full of wine. God ain’t got nothing against a little drink to celebrate His Son’s birthday with.”

To Archie Bunker, anyone who didn’t drink beer was a Pinko Commie.  Sure, there was nothing wrong with a generically labeled beer after work – I do the same, and that doesn’t make me an alcoholic.  But then he opens up “Archie Bunker’s Place” and the brew really starts flowing.


Hawkeye and Trapper (M*A*S*H*)


FRANK: You are common drunks!
HAWKEYE: This is a rumor started by people I’ve fallen over.

The doctors dulled the pain of the Korean War by drinking, and once Trapper left, the bottle was handed to fellow drunken doctor, B.J. Honeycutt. My favorite quote is Hawkeye explaining how dry he likes his martinis (note his distillery in the picture above):

“I want a dry, arid, barren martini. I want it so dry that there is dust on the olive.”


Darrin Stephens (Bewitched)

Bewitched (16)

Darrin was constantly getting sloshed Mad Men style on Bewitched.  Every time Larry Tate brought over clients, cocktails were being mixed.  If you doubt the level of alcohol consumption, take note of the tally listed below.   It’s truly depressing that someone took the time to compile this list – but it would be even sadder if I didn’t share it with you.  Behold, an episode list of Darrin’s onscreen consumption:

At home in episode #s 2, 3, 5, 9 (gets drunk), 10, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 30, 34, 43 (gets drunk), 46, 50, 53, 57, 61, 65, 67, 68, 69, 70, 73, 74, 76, 81, 85, 90, 97, 101, 108, 110, 115, 116, 119, 122, 123, 128, 130 (gets drunk), 131, 132, 135, 139 (twice), 148, 149, 151, 153, 155, 159, 170, 176, 178, 183, 184, 187, 189, 191, 192, 194, 198, 200, 201, 210, 211, 212, 213, 217, 218, 236, 237, 238, 239, 243, 247, 249, 251, 252, 253, 254.
In a bar and drinks with his buddy Dave in #s 1, 22, 33, 38, 73, and 127.
In a bar with Larry in #s 10, 82, 104, 126, 145, and 150.
Alone in a bar in #s 1, 10, 22, 33, 38, 43, 57, 102, 118, 148 (gets drunk), and 239.
In a nightclub in # 13.
In a restaurant in #s 7, 11, 59, 117, 159, 207, and 253.
In a hotel room in #s 11, 232, and 234.
At client’s in # 18.
At the office in #s 8 and 107 (with Larry).
At a party in #s 60, 64, 99 (three times), and 139.
As “Darrin the Bold” in # 79.
At the Tates in # 65 (as Larry) and 146.
With Larry, at the Italian villa in #233.


After School Special Drunks

After school special

After School Specials were constantly beating kids over the head with all the horrific problems life has to offer – abuse, mental handicaps, teen pregnancy, divorce, suicide…. If it was depressing, it likely was a topic of an After School Special.  Some of the best ones involved heavy drinking – and by that I mean,  they are best enjoyed after drinking heavily (to dull the pain).


Uncle Ned (Family Ties)

Who can forget Season 2, Episode 14: “Say Uncle” (1984) when Uncle Ned (Tom Hanks) stays with the Keatons and drinks all of their vanilla extract.  In a monumentally uncomfortable scene, Drunkle Ned decks Alex.   Remember, in the early 80s, sitcoms often got dark – real dark.



There’s plenty more drunks I suppose also deserve a mention: Ned the Wino from Good Times and Barney from The Simpsons.  Feel free to add any glaring omissions in a comment.  Cheers!

  • transistersistor

    After the sad death of Robin Williams there was a “Mork & Mindy” marathon on local San Francisco TV. I saw that the grumpy neighbor of Mork & Mindy, Mr. Bickley, was a character whose raging alcoholism was entirely played for laughs.

    • As a defense mechanism, I’ve repressed much of M&M’s creepy secondary characters – Exidor, anyone? (shiver). Then there was Jonathan Winters playing a toddler (WTF?) and worst of all (gulp), Jay Thomas.

      • transistersistor

        you remember more than me! Mindy was quite forgettable too- I mean, if her name wasn’t in the show title! If it weren’t for that marathon after Robin’s death, I would not have known about that unfunny alcoholic neighbor character. he was in like, every episode they showed.

  • Mapster68

    Oh come on now! How could you possibly leave out Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies?!? What, with her “Spring Tonic” and the backwoods still on the patio, she was a regular moonshiner!!

    Jed: “Now Granny, does that tonic really cure rheumatiz?

    Granny: “Nah, but it makes you forgets you have it”

    • Ha! I’d forgotten about Granny’s famous tonic! Great catch!

  • Steve Mills

    The greatest TV/movie drunk of all time was undoubtedly Foster Brooks.

    • No arguments here. The man turned public drunkenness into an art form. He was a burping Baryshnikov of borderline awkward intoxication..

  • ric_mac

    The Baldwin sisters unknowingly distilled whiskey for the consumption of everyone on Waltons Mountain (The Waltons), while Emma Peel and (especially) John Steed drank their way through what must have been every episode of The Avengers, starting with a bottle of champagne in the opening titles, continuing to knock it back thereafter until the closing credits, where they were so sozzled they apparently attempted to fight imaginary opponents.

    • ABall

      an elixir they referred to as their Papa’s Recipe

  • ABall

    Funny but in my opinion many of these folks/characters I don’t consider as alcoholics