updated 03/28/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 03/28/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST
Indeed, he has had ample experience wrestling with contending forces. On Christmas Eve, 1979, his wife, Casey, suffered a paralyzing stroke during the birth of their first child. Despite a career-igniting performance in The Onion Field, Danson left acting for six months to nurse her back to health. Two years later work again clashed with homelife as he became a leading man in Cheers. In the mid-'80s his attention was seized once more—by a sign on a favorite beach that read, POLLUTED WATER, No SWIMMING. He and Casey, 52, founded the American Oceans Campaign in 1987, and he began pouring energy into fostering a responsible coastal resources policy. "During the last two years, I almost crashed and burned trying to be everything for everybody," he says. Now he is getting back to basics. "My concern is for my wife and me, not how far I can shoot out into the world."
Danson's social conscience runs deep. Even while he was pulling the tap as the libidinous bar-keep of Cheers, he starred in TV movies with a message—as an incestuous father in Something About Amelia ('84) and a reporter on famine in Ethiopia in We Are the Children ('87). His reverence for nature dates to a Flagstaff, Ariz., childhood among the Hopi Indians. Danson's father, an archaeologist, taught him that the past must be preserved as a legacy.
Nowadays one finds Danson not only preaching clean water, but also preserving what counts most for him: horseback riding with his kids, shooting hoops in the driveway or, as on a recent Saturday, spending the evening with friends, enjoying pasta, Puccini and a Magic Johnson video.