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Don't stamp out Cliff Clavin: Letter carriers we loved

Everett Collection

John Ratzenberger as Cliff Clavin.

No Saturday mail delivery? It's a little-known fact that bills delivered on Saturday don't count. Well, that's not exactly true, but neither were half the facts spat out by television's favorite mailman, Cliff Clavin of "Cheers."

"Cheers" went off the air 20 years ago, but Cliff remains the most beloved postal employee ever seen on the big or small screen. In memory of weekend mail delivery, we revisit some of entertainment's men who delivered.

1. Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger), 'Cheers'
Poor Cliff. Were he still working in this era of no Saturday mail, we suspect he'd have something to say about it, as he did anything relating to his profession. "Many of our ancient wonders are postal-related," he once told his barfly friends. "The pyramids for example, they were post offices. And the Sphinx, that was a late-night drop-off." He also made toasts in a postal way, raising his glass and saying, "As they say down at the post office, 'Here's looking up your address.'" And even his name fell into postal lore, as an employee at another branch once divulged. "Just the other day, I messed up," the man said. "And my supervisor told me to get my head out of my Clavin."

2. Newman (Wayne Knight), 'Seinfeld'
Cliff was a friendly bumbling postman, but Newman on "Seinfeld," ah, he was downright malevolent. He's the one who told Jerry's parents their son was making out with his girlfriend during "Schindler's List." When Jerry's stereo was smashed in the mail, it was Newman who grilled him in an interrogation that left Jerry cool and calm, but almost killed Newman. But perhaps his most famous episode is postal-related: He and Kramer cram a mail truck with cans and bottles to drive to Michigan and take advantage of their high bottle-deposit payout. To no one's surprise, it does not end well. Do not mess with the mail.

3. The Postman (Kevin Costner), 'The Postman'
Perhaps Kevin Costner's 1997 flop, "The Postman," gets a bad rap. The world has been all-but destroyed (in 2013 no less, so get ready). When Costner's character finds a postal uniform on a skeleton and puts it on, he inspires the ragtag survivors with tales of a new nation rising and prepared to restore mail delivery. A statue is later built in his honor of Costner in a mail uniform delivering a letter to a small boy. No, we're not kidding. Why would we make this up? Seriously, you can Google it. OK, maybe the bad rap isn't that undeserved. In 1999, "The Simpsons" ran a parody of it showing Costner just walking around randomly while the actor personally apologizes to Lisa for the movie. But he does give a heartfelt tribute to the letter carriers that rings true today. "Getting a letter made you feel like you were part of something bigger than yourself. I don't think we ever really understood what they meant to us until they were gone."

4. Mr. McFeely (David Newell), 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood'
Dear old Mr. McFeely, who took his last name from Fred Rogers' middle name, epitomized "Speedy Delivery." Oh, OK, so he didn't actually work for the post office -- it seemed like he did. Similar uniform, dapper hat, always making sure Mr. Rogers got his packages, somehow always finding time to stop in for a craft project or just a chat. We lost Fred Rogers in 2003, but Newell lives on, and a 2008 documentary shows that he's still speedy-delivering Rogers' message of love.

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