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06th Dec 2022

Kirstie Alley: Cheers star dies aged 71

Steve Hopkins

John Travolta said Alley was ‘one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had’

Kirstie Alley, a two-time Emmy-winning actor who rose to fame in US sitcom Cheers, has died aged 71.

Alley died on Monday of cancer, her family confirmed in a statement on social media.

“We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a short battle with cancer, only recently discovered,” Alley’s children said.

“She 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.”

Alley was best known for her role as Rebecca Howe in the long-running NBC US comedy Cheers, in which she appeared as the on-off love interest of Boston bar owner Sam, played by Ted Danson.

Alley’s children said, in the statement, that “as iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother” and spoke warmly of her “zest and passion for life, her children, grandchildren and her many animals, not to mention her eternal joy of creating”.

The family said Alley had inspired them “to live life to the fullest, just as she did.”

Alley also starred alongside John Travolta in the successful 1989 romantic comedy Look Who’s Talking.

The actor paid tribute to her Instagram, writing: “Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had. I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”

Alley is survived by son, William True Stevenson, daughter, Lillie Price Stevenson and a grandson.

From 1997 to 2000 she had her own sitcom on US network NBC, Veronica’s Closet and in 2018 she took part in UK Celebrity Big Brother. She finished as runner-up.

Kirstie Louise Alley was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1951, and moved to Los Angeles in 1980, where she was an interior designer, Variety noted, was involved in the Church of Scientology, and sought treatment for a cocaine addiction through its affiliated Narconon program, which she credited with her sobriety.

Alley’s film career began in 1982 with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which she soon followed with Blind Date and the 1985 miniseries, North and South.

In 1987 she played alongside Mark Harmon in Carl Reiner’s hit comedy, Summer School, then, later that year replaced Shelley Long on ‘Cheers’.

Alley won an Emmy for the role in 1991. Her second Emmy was for the 1994 television movie David’s Mother in which she played the parent of a teenager with autism.

Alley’s career also included NBC’s ‘Veronica’s Closet’, Showtime comedy ‘Fat Actress’ and co-starring with Travolta in the three Look Who’s Talking movies.

Alley served as a spokesperson for Jenny Craig’s weight loss system, then parted ways and started her own company Organic Liaisons. She later returned to Jenny Craig, which acquired her company.

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