George Robert Wendt is a native of Chicago and proud Cubbies fan. One of six children, he was raised in a well-to-do Chicago suburb and briefly attended the University of Notre Dame (where he was expelled for low grades). He transferred to and graduated from Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Missouri with a B.A. in Economics. After graduation, Wendt took off for Europe for a couple of years.
When he returned from his travels, Wendt signed up for an improvisational comedy class at Chicago's famed Second City. He had a knack for improv, and eventually was invited to become a member of the famous troupe, where he met his wife, Bernadette Birkett, a fellow actor. From 1974-1980 Wendt was a member of Second City, until he and his wife left the windy city for Hollywood to help develop a television series for the troupe, which never materialized. However, once in Hollywood, Wendt made a name for himself as a character actor. His first significant television appearance was on Soap in 1981, and other TV credits included Taxi and M*A*S*H. Producer James Burrows, remembering his appearance on Taxi, asked Wendt to read for Cheers; Wendt won the role of Norm Peterson and for 11 years he portrayed the down and out everyman, who got to deliver some of the pithiest lines on the show, and whose nightly entrance into the bar became a running gag. Wendt's wife also had an unseen role on the show as the voice of Norm's oft mentioned but never seen wife, Vera. During the course of the show, he received eight Emmy Award nominations.
Wendt made his film debut in 1980's Somewhere in Time, and has appeared in numerous big screen and made-for-TV movies. Credits of note include Fletch (1985), Gung-Ho (1986), Guilty By Suspicion (1991) and Outside Providence (1999). After Cheers, in 1995, CBS gave him his own sitcom, The George Wendt Show, but it didn't have the ratings and was dropped after one season. Like many of the original Cheers cast members, Wendt reprised his Cheers character on Frasier, and also appeared on Becker with Ted Danson.
In 2001, Wendt and fellow Cheers cast member John Ratzenberger won a law suit they had filed against Paramount Pictures (the production company for the show) when the court ruled that the company had illegally used their likenesses for two robots named Hank and Bob that appeared in Cheers-themed airport bars. Wendt and his wife Barbara have five children.