Woodrow "Woody" Tracy Harrelson was born in Midland, Texas. His early childhood was marred by his father's imprisonment for murdering a judge. When he was 13, his mother moved Woody and his two brothers to Lebanon, Ohio, where he got his start acting in high school. Harrelson attended Hanover College, originally intending to study theology, but graduating in 1983 with a B.A. in theater arts and English.
After college Harrelson immediately headed to New York City, and his career break came fast when he landed an understudy role in Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues in 1984 (Harrelson was married to Nancy Simon -- the director's daughter -- for 10 months.) While in New York, Harrelson had the opportunity to audition for the role of Cheers' naive farm-boy-turned-bartender, Woody Boyd (the character had been named prior to Harrelson's winning the role). The genial goofball became a viewer favorite, and in 1989 Harrelson won an Emmy for his work on the show. He would reprise the character again on an episode of Frasier in 1999.
During his time on Cheers,Harrelson's movie career blossomed. His first screen role was in Wild Cats and throughout the series' 11-season run he divided his time between the big and small screen. Harrelson became a box-office draw when he starred in White Men Can't Jump with Wesley Snipes. The pair would team up again in 1995's The Money Train.His appearance in Oliver Stone's 1994 film Natural Born Killers,where he and Juliette Lewis portrayed glorified murderous psychopaths, would completely erase the memory of his genial TV persona. Other notable film appearances include Indecent Proposal,The People vs. Larry Flynt,Wag the Dog and The Thin Red Line.Harrelson has also appeared in North Country and A Prairie Home Companion. On the small screen, Harrelson's guest appearances include Spin City, Ellen and a recurring role on Will & Grace.
Politically outspoken, he is actively involved in many environmental causes, and has gained notoriety for his activism to legalize marijuana. He and his longtime companion Laura Louie married in 1998 and have three daughters.
Woodrow Tiberius Boyd (Woody to his loved ones) is a big-hearted innocent making his way in a world filled with hard-hearted cynics. A man of humble means, Woody was born and raised in Hanover, Ind., a conservative town known for its love of beer.@ He comes from a large farming family, comprised mostly of his numerous uncles. After high school Woody pursued his dream of becoming a bartender in the big city by shot-gunning his resume to various big city bars. One made its way into the hands of Cheers' bartender, Ernie 'Coach' Pantusso.
The gang first meets Woody when he arrives at Cheers on a trip to meet his mentor. Sadly, his visit coincides with Coach's untimely death. Sam, seeing how eager he is, decides to give the kid a break and offers him Coach's job. Although he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer -- and much like his mentor, can't always keep up with the boisterous barroom banter -- his anecdotes of life in Hanover and chipper attitude make for easy admission into the Cheers family. When he's not working at the bar, Woody is busy participating in community theater productions and working as an extra in Boston on shows like Spenser: for Hire. His first big break comes when he lands the part of 'Veggie-Boy' in a juice commercial. Serially monogamous (unlike his boss), Woody's first love is hometown sweetheart Beth Curtis. They try the long-distance thing, but in time she marries someone else. Next, Woody courts a widowed, older patron named Mary, even proposing marriage, but she turns him down. Woody meets his future bride, Kelly Gaines -- the pampered, sweet, dim daughter of wealthy Lillian VP, Walter Gaines -- when The Lillian Corporation takes over the bar. He woos her by writing the infamous and hilarious 'Kelly Song' for her, but they don't have an easy time of it thanks to her interfering father, who thinks the simpleton isn't good enough for his little princess. Love prevails, and Woody and Kelly go on to marry and have a child together.