Kirstie Alley, Emmy-winning Cheers actress, dies aged 71

The Look Who's Talking star died after a short battle with cancer

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Kirstie Alley, the two-time Emmy-winning actress who rose to fame in her role on the hit TV series Cheers, died on Monday after a short battle with cancer, her representative confirmed. She was 71.

Her death was also confirmed through a statement released on her official Twitter account by her children, who said Alley died after treatment for cancer at the Moffitt Cancer Centre in Florida.

"To all our friends, far and wide around the world ... we are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered," said True and Lillie Parker.

"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. As iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother."

Alley's breakout role came as Rebecca Howe in the NBC sitcom Cheers, in which she starred opposite Ted Danson from 1987 until 1993, and for which she received an Emmy and a Golden Globe award in 1991.

“I only thank God I didn’t have to wait as long as Ted,” Alley said in her acceptance, gently ribbing Danson, who had finally won an Emmy for his Cheers role as Sam Malone in his eighth nomination the previous year.

She won her second Emmy in 1994 for the television film David's Mother.

Alley also appeared in many films during the 1980s and 1990s, including Look Who's Talking, It Takes Two, Deconstructing Henry and Drop Dead Gorgeous.

She had her own sitcom on the network, Veronica’s Closet, from 1997 to 2000.

John Travolta, her co-star in the Look Who's Talking trilogy, paid her a tribute in an Instagram post.

“Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had,” Travolta said, along with a photo of Alley. “I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”

She would play a fictionalised 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.

Alley said she agreed to do the show in part because of the misinformation about her that had become a tabloid staple.

“Anything bad you can say about me, they say,” Alley told the AP at the time. “I’ve never collapsed, fainted, passed out. Basically, anything they’ve said, I never. The only true thing is I got fat.”

In recent years, she appeared on several other reality shows, including a second-place finish on Dancing With the Stars in 2011. She also appeared in the competition series The Masked Singer wearing a baby mammoth costume earlier this year.

One of her co-stars on the show, Jamie Lee Curtis, said on Instagram on Monday that Alley was “a great comic foil” on the show and “a beautiful mama bear in her very real life”.

Alley’s Cheers co-star Kelsey Grammer said: “I always believed grief for a public figure is a private matter, but I will say I loved her".

Another Cheers co-star, Rhea Perlman, recounted how she and Alley became friends almost instantly after she joined the show. She said Alley organised large Easter and Halloween parties and invited everyone. “She wanted everyone to feel included. She loved her children deeply. I’ve never met anyone remotely like her. I feel so thankful to have known her.”

— Agencies contributed to this report

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Updated: December 06, 2022, 5:34 AM