Confounded memory

You might wonder how I got into posting about actor Scott Bakula earlier today (aside from the fact that he’s an interesting actor with a long career). Well, it all started with Dan Hedaya, believe it or not.

Step 1.  I posted a little while ago, on Ted Danson and Cheers, saying:

Although Cheers operated largely around that main ensemble cast, guest stars and recurring characters did occasionally supplement them. Notable repeat guests included Dan Hedaya as Nick Tortelli, Jean Kasem as Loretta Tortelli … , Jay Thomas as Eddie LeBec, Roger Rees as Robin Colcord, Tom Skerritt as Evan Drake, and Harry Anderson as Harry ‘The Hat’ Gittes.

The names in boldface are those of actors I hadn’t already posted about.

So, as a start at filling in gaps, I retrieved the Wikipedia page for Hedaya, which begins:

Daniel G. “Dan” Hedaya (born July 24, 1940) is an American character actor. He often plays sleazy villains or uptight, wisecracking individuals; three of his best-known roles are as Italian Mafia boss Tony Costello in Wise Guys, a cuckolded husband in the Coen brothers’ crime thriller Blood Simple, and the scheming Nick Tortelli on the sitcom Cheers.

Hedaya in the film Tightrope (1984):

Step 2. Then the spin-off The Tortellis:

The Tortellis is an American sitcom that aired from January to May 1987 on NBC. The first spin-off of Cheers, The Tortellis stars Dan Hedaya [as the loutish Nick Tortelli, the ex-husband of Cheers’s Carla Tortelli] and Jean Kasem [as his ditzy blonde wife Loretta].

That struck a chord with me– both Hedaya and the ditzy blonde — but I remembered the show as having another (comic) male main character in. I recalled the actor’s face, I couldn’t, however, recall the actor’s name, only that he was in also in a tv dramatic fantasy in which the protagonist went back in time each episode to fix some problem in history. Facebook friends get it right away from that description: Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap (they also unearthed some other possibiliities, which I’ll post about at another time).

Step 3. Off to find the tv series that had both Hedaya and Bakula in it. I found none. The closest I got was Bakula’s sitcom Eisenhower & Lutz, which had Bakula’s character comically involved with two women, neither of them blonde. (Description in my Bakula posting).

I pondered on this for some time, until I noticed that both The Tortellis and Eisenhower & Lutz were shortlived, the first for a few montha in 1987, the second for 13 episodes in 1988. Ah, that was it: I’d watched them both, about the same time, and combined them in my memory. Well, that was nearly 30 years ago.

Memory is an undependable thing.

Bonus. A piece of Hedaya fluff. From Wikipedia:

Dick is a 1999 American comedy film directed by Andrew Fleming from a script he wrote with Sheryl Longin. It is a parody retelling the events of the Watergate scandal which ended the presidency of Richard (“Tricky Dick”) Nixon and features several cast members from Saturday Night Live and The Kids in the Hall. Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams star as Betsy and Arlene, two warm-hearted but not overly intelligent 15-year-old girls who are best friends, and who, through various twists and turns, become the legendary “Deep Throat” figure partly responsible for bringing down the presidency of Richard Nixon. Dan Hedaya plays Nixon.

Hedaya was a truly inspired choice to play Nixon.

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