Kirstie Alley, a beloved screen icon of the 80s and 90s, has sadly passed away at the age of 71.
According to a statement from her family, the actress died on December 5th from an unspecified form of cancer which was “only recently discovered.”
Kirstie Alley became a household name when she joined the hit sitcom Cheers in its sixth season as Rebecca Howe, the bar’s new corporate-appointed manager, and the show’s new female lead following the departure of Shelley Long’s Diane. Many feared that Cheers couldn’t work without Long, but Alley proved them wrong, remaining with the show for its final five seasons until it ended in 1993.
This was not the beginning of the Wichita-born actress’ career, of course. She made her screen debut in 1982 as the Vulcan Saavik in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, then made several more film and TV appearances before Cheers really launched her in 1987.
In between seasons on Cheers, Alley also found time to headline a hit movie franchise, Look Who’s Talking. Alley took the lead in the early 90s comedy trilogy alongside John Travolta (and the voice of Bruce Willis as her baby).
Post-Cheers, Alley went on to appear in such movies as Village of the Damned, Deconstructing Harry and Drop Dead Gorgeous, while also headlining the late 90s sitcom Veronica’s Closet.
Alley’s work on Cheers earned her a Golden Globe, a Primetime Emmy and a People’s Choice Award, whilst she was awarded a second Emmy for her performance in 1994 TV movie David’s Mother. Veronica’s Closet also earned her a second People’s Choice award.
Alley was married twice, first to Bob Alley, whom she divorced in 1977, then to actor Parker Stephenson from 1983 to 1997, with whom she had two adopted children.
Alley’s Look Who’s Talking co-star John Travolta was among the first to pay tribute to Alley, declaring on Instagram, “Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had. I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”
The statement from Alley’s family tells us that at the end, Alley was “surrounded by her closest family and fought with great strength, leaving us with a certainty of her never-ending joy of living and whatever adventures lie ahead. As iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother.”