Kirstie Alley, a two-time Emmy winner whose roles on the TV megahit Cheers and in the Look Who’s Talking films made her one of the biggest stars in American comedy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, died on Monday. She was 71.
Alley died of cancer that was only recently discovered, her children True and Lillie Parker said in a post on Twitter. Alley’s manager Donovan Daughtry confirmed the death in an email to The Associated Press.
As iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother, her children’s statement said.
She starred opposite Ted Danson as Rebecca Howe on Cheers, the beloved NBC sitcom about a Boston bar, from 1987 to 1993. She joined the show at the height of its popularity after the departure of original star Shelley Long. Alley won an Emmy for best lead actress in a comedy series for the role in 1991.
Her second Emmy was for best lead actress in a miniseries or television movie in 1993 for playing the title role in the CBS TV movie David’s Mother.
In the 1989 comedy Look Who’s Talking, she played the mother of a baby who’s inner thoughts were voiced by Bruce Willis. She also appeared in a 1990 sequel Look Who’s Talking Too, and another in 1993, Look Who’s Talking Now.
John Travolta, her co-star in the trilogy, paid her tribute in an Instagram post. “Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had. I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”
She played a fictionalized version of herself in the 2005 Showtime series Fat Actress, a show that drew comedy from her public and media treatment over her weight gain and loss. She dealt with the same subject matter in the 2010 A&E reality series Kirstie Alley’s Big Life, which chronicled her attempt to lose weight and launch a weight-loss program while working as a single mother in an unconventional household that included pet lemurs.
In recent years she appeared on several other reality shows, including a second-place finish on Dancing With the Stars in 2011. She appeared on the competition series The Masked Singer wearing a baby mammoth costume earlier this year.
Alley’s Cheers co-star Kelsey Grammer said in a statement that “I always believed grief for a public figure is a private matter, but I will say I loved her.”
A native of Wichita, Kansas, Alley attended Kansas State University before dropping out and moving to Los Angeles. Like Travolta, she became a longtime member of the Church of Scientology.
She made her film debut in 1982’s Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.
Alley was married to her high school sweetheart from 1970 to 1977, and to actor Parker Stevenson from 1983 until 1997.
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