Rhea Perlman Biography

(Best Known for Her Role as ‘Carla Tortelli’ in the TV Sitcom ‘Cheers’)

Birthday: March 31, 1948 (Aries)

Born In: Coney Island, New York, United States

Rhea Jo Perlman is an American actress who has been successful in making her presence felt in films and TV series with great élan. She is well-known for portraying the character of a waitress named ‘Carla Tortelli’ in the popular American sitcom ‘Cheers.’ A graduate from ‘Hunter College,’ Perlman made her acting debut in the early-1970s with a bit role in the off-off-Broadway play ‘Dracula Sabbat.’ For the next few years, she was featured mostly in films and television movies. Her first notable role came with the TV series ‘Taxi,’ but her big break came in 1982 when she was cast to play ‘Carla Tortelli’ in the TV series ‘Cheers.’ Her brilliant performance in the sitcom garnered her ten ‘Emmy Award’ nominations for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress’ out of which she won four. She also received a record six ‘Golden Globe Award’ nominations for ‘Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series’ for the role. Other notable performances of Perlman include in films like ‘Matilda,’ ‘Sunset Park,’ and ‘Carpool.’ She has also played prominent roles in TV series like ‘Pearl’ and ‘The Mindy Project’ and in TV movies like ‘Secret Cutting’ and ‘Oliver's Ghost.’
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Rhea Jo Perlman

Age: 75 Years, 75 Year Old Females


Spouse/Ex-: Danny DeVito (m. 1982)

father: Philip Perlman

mother: Adele, Adele Perlman

children: Grace Fan DeVito, Jake DeVito, Lucy DeVito

Born Country: United States

Actresses American Women

Height: 5'0" (152 cm), 5'0" Females

Ancestry: Russian American, Polish American

Notable Alumni: Hunter College

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: Hunter College

Childhood & Early Life
Rhea Jo Perlman was born on March 31, 1948, in Coney Island, New York, USA, to Philip Perlman and Adele. Her mother was a bookkeeper, while her Polish immigrant father worked as manager at a factory. She was brought up in a Jewish family in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
She attended ‘Hunter College’ in New York where she studied drama. She completed her graduation obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1968.
Her parents relocated to Los Angeles in the mid-1980s. Her father eventually landed the role of an extra named ‘Phil’ in the sitcom ‘Cheers.’ He went on to feature in over 30 episodes of the sitcom. With time, he became a character actor and featured in many TV series and films.
Her sister Heide Paula Perlman is a television script writer, producer, and story editor. Heide is a two-time ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ winner who worked in TV series like ‘Cheers’ and ‘The George Carlin Show.’ She has also worked in the variety show ‘The Tracey Ullman Show.’
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Rhea Perlman made her acting debut on stage when she played a bit role of an attendant in the off-off-Broadway play ‘Dracula Sabbat’ which was staged from September 1970 to June 1971.
She featured in the play ‘Up – An Uppity Revue’ in 1972 alongside the now famous American actor, comedian, director, and producer Danny DeVito whom she married later. That year, she also did a small role in the short film ‘Hot Dogs for Gauguin’ which marked the film debut of DeVito.
From the mid-70s to the late-70s, she appeared in several television movies, including ‘Stalk the Wild Child’ (1976), ‘Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night’ (1977), and ‘Like Normal People’ (1979).
Her recurring role as ‘Zena Sherman,’ Louie's girlfriend (played by DeVito), in the famous American sitcom ‘Taxi’ increased her popularity. She featured in the sitcom in all its five seasons from 1979 to 1982.
Meanwhile, she played various roles like that of a shoplifting mother in the 1979 American comedy flick ‘Swap Meet.’ She then played ‘Little Jewish Prostitute’ in another American comedy flick titled ‘National Lampoon's Movie Madness’ (1982).
After getting noticed by producers Glen and Les Charles while performing in a play, she landed the role of ‘Carla Tortelli,’ a "feisty," "worldly-wise," and highly superstitious barmaid in the American sitcom ‘Cheers’ in 1982.
‘Cheers’ emerged among the most successful sitcoms, running for 11 seasons on NBC from September 30, 1982 to May 20, 1993. It garnered 95 ‘Emmy Award’ nominations out of which it won 20.
The brilliance with which she portrayed the character of ‘Carla’ earned her several ‘Emmy Award’ nominations. Out of these nominations, she won four ‘Emmy Awards’ for ‘Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series’ in 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1989.
She also boasts of being the only actress to have earned six nominations at ‘Golden Globes’ for ‘Best Supporting Actress.’ Other accolades received by her for her performance as ‘Carla’ include ‘Viewers for Quality Television’ award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ (Comedy) in 1985 and ‘American Comedy Award’ for ‘Funniest Supporting Actress’ in 1989. ‘Carla’ was also named among the all-time greatest TV characters by CBS in 2011.
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Thanks to her remarkable performance as ‘Carla,’ Perlman went on to appear in all the episodes of ‘Cheers.’ She then reprised the role in other series, such as ‘The Tortellis’ (1987)—in its pilot episode—‘Frasier’ (2002)—in the episode ‘Cheerful Goodbyes,’ and—‘St. Elsewhere’—in the episode ‘Cheers’ in 1985.
She also voiced ‘Carla’ in the ‘Fear of Flying’ episode of the American animated sitcom ‘The Simpsons’ in 1994.
While basking in the success of ‘Cheers’ she also played starring roles in TV movies, such as ‘To Grandmother's House We Go’ (1992), ‘A Place to Be Loved’ (1993), and ‘In Spite of Love’ (1994). She also played ‘Lois’ in ‘The Wedding Ring’ episode of Steven Spielberg’s TV series ‘Amazing Stories’ in 1986.
Her next notable TV series after ‘Cheers’ was the American sitcom ‘Pearl’ where she played the titular character of ‘Pearl Caraldo’ in all its 22 episodes. The series was aired on CBS from September 16, 1996 to June 25, 1997.
In 1996, she played starring roles in films like ‘Sunset Park,’ ‘Carpool,’ and ‘Matilda.’ ‘Matilda,’ an American children's fantasy comedy flick directed by DeVito, became a huge hit worldwide.
Other notable films of Perlman include ‘Love Comes Lately’ (2007), ‘Beethoven's Big Break’ (2008), and ‘The Sessions’ (2012). Over the years, she has also voiced prominent characters in films like ‘My Little Pony: The Movie’ (1986), ‘We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story’ (1993), and ‘Sing’ (2016).
From 2014 to 2016, she played the recurring role of ‘Annette Castellano’ in 13 episodes of the American romantic comedy TV series ‘The Mindy Project.’ Her other notable TV series include ‘Kate Brasher’ (2001), ‘Hung’ (2009–2010), and ‘Me and My Grandma’ (2017).
She impersonated Jacqueline Kennedy in the TV film ‘How to Marry a Billionaire: A Christmas Tale’ (2000). Other notable TV movies of Perlman include ‘Secret Cutting’ (2000), ‘The Christmas Choir’ (2008), and ‘Oliver's Ghost’ (2011).
The off-Broadway play ‘Love, Loss, and What I Wore’ which was staged at the ‘Westside Theatre’ in 2009 saw her sharing the stage with her daughter Lucy DeVito.

A series of children’s books titled ‘Otto Undercover’ was penned down by Perlman with illustrations by American author and illustrator Dan Santat.
‘Otto Undercover’ comprises of six books: ‘Born To Drive’ (2006), ‘Canyon Catastrophe’ (2006), ‘Water Balloon Doom’ (2006), ‘Toxic Taffy Takeover’ (2006), ‘Brink of the Ex-Stink-Tion’ (2007), and ‘Brain Freeze’ (2007). Out of these ‘The Brink of the Ex-Stink-Tion’ was selected among 50 best books of the year 2007 by ‘Child Magazine.’
From 2017 to 2019, she appeared in movies like ‘Lemon,’ ‘Half Magic,’ and ‘Poms.’
Personal Life & Legacy
She married Danny DeVito on January 28, 1982, after being in a relationship with him from 1971. They were blessed with three children—Lucy Chet—born in March 1983—Grace Fan—born in March 1985—Jacob Daniel—born in October 1987.
Perlman and DeVito separated in October 2012. They reconciled later which was reported in March 2013. They separated again in March 2017. Even though they don’t live together, they don’t intend to file for divorce as they claim that they have become closer after their separation.

Rhea Perlman Movies

1. Hot Dogs for Gauguin (1972)


2. The Sessions (2012)

  (Biography, Romance, Drama, Comedy)

3. Matilda (1996)

  (Comedy, Fantasy, Family)

4. I'll See You in My Dreams (2015)

  (Comedy, Drama, Romance)

5. 10 Items or Less (2006)

  (Drama, Comedy)

6. Love Child (1982)

  (Crime, Romance, Drama)

7. Class Act (1992)


8. Canadian Bacon (1995)


9. Sunset Park (1996)

  (Sport, Drama)

10. Poms (2019)

  (Comedy, Drama, Sport)


Primetime Emmy Awards
1989 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Cheers (1982)
1986 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Cheers (1982)
1985 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Cheers (1982)
1984 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Cheers (1982)

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