George Wendt is expected to make a complete recovery after undergoing a successful coronary-bypass surgery Thursday. Wendt, who is best known for playing America’s favorite barfly Norm Peterson on “Cheers,” even had a laugh with reporters inquiring about his health while recuperating in an Illinois hospital, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“I did in fact have a piece of Polish sausage lodged in my artery,” Wendt wrote in an email to the Tribune. “The doc said it was coronary kielbosis.”
Wendt, 64, was hospitalized Sunday night after complaining of chest pains on the set of “The Odd Couple.” He was scheduled to play Oscar Madison in the Skokie, Ill., theater production but will be replaced by veteran stage actor Marc Grapey.
Wendt’s manager Geoff Cheddy told reporters that Wendt went into surgery to relieve a severely constricted artery.
“George and his family send heart-felt thanks to all the well-wishers,” Cheddy told the Tribune in a statement. “And they ask for privacy and consideration as he recovers.”
Wendt got his start in show business by appearing at Chicago’s Second City comedy club, joining alumni that included John Belushi and other major “Saturday Night Live” stars. The role that made him famous, though, was as the bumbling Norm on “Cheers” from 1982 to 1993. Since “Cheers” went into syndication, Wendt has appeared on “Seinfeld,” “The Simpsons,” “Columbo,” “Frasier,” “Family Guy” and a slew of other major programs.
Wendt is the uncle of current “Saturday Night Live” star Jason Sudeikis and acted as the comedian’s inspiration to start his own life in Hollywood.