Kirstie Alley Death: Emmy-Winning ‘Cheers’ Actress Dies At 71

Kirstie Alley died on Monday. Her breakthrough role as the ambitious Rebecca Howe in the sitcom “Cheers” launched her career and won her an Emmy and a Golden Globe. She turned 71.

Cancer was the cause of death, according to a tweet from her family.

As Rebecca on the classic NBC show “Cheers,” which ran for 11 seasons in the 1980s and 1990s, Ms. Alley quickly won over millions of fans. She took Shelley Long’s place in the ensemble cast in 1987, when the show was at its most popular, and stayed through the last season.

Critics said that Ms. Alley gave the character a fresh new twist and that the scripts gave her a more fun storyline that made her a “denser joke machine,” as one writer put it. Rebecca, who ran the bar in the show, sometimes seemed like a hopeless, gold-seeking mess. Ms. Alley sometimes played Rebecca with fake confidence and a lack of interest in romantic advances from other people.

Kirstie Alley Death
Kirstie Alley Death

Her character changed over time from a corporate-pleasing manager to a full-fledged, friendly gang member who was always upbeat but sad.

In an interview with “Entertainment Tonight” in 2019, Ms. Alley said that her time on “Cheers” was a bit chaotic, with co-stars like Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson getting into all kinds of trouble on set.

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“We were always in trouble because we never paid attention,” she said. “We were never there on time.”

Ms. Alley won an Emmy in 1991 for being the best lead actress in a comedy series for “Cheers.” She also won an Emmy in 1994 for playing the title role in “David’s Mother,” a drama about a mother who raises her autistic son by herself.

Ms. Alley has been acting for about 40 years. From 1997 to 2000, she was the star of the NBC sitcom “Veronica’s Closet.” Her character was the head of a successful lingerie business.

In 1997, “Veronica’s Closet” creator and executive producer Marta Kauffman said of Ms. Alley, “She’s crazy most of the time, and I mean that in the best way.”

Ms. Alley was born in Wichita, Kansas, on January 12, 1951. She was raised in a Roman Catholic family there. Her grandfather, who ran a lumber company, was her best friend.

She went to Kansas State University but dropped out to become an interior decorator. She became addicted to cocaine around that time.

She eventually moved to Los Angeles and joined Narconon, a program for recovering addicts that is connected to the Church of Scientology.

Barbara Walters asked Ms. Alley in 1992 why she had joined a religion with a troubled past, and she said that she had “not come across anything” bad.

In 1997, Ms. Alley said of the church, “It gave me a lot of answers.” “I was pretty talented. That wasn’t what I was looking for. But I wanted to get rid of the things that were keeping me from becoming an actress, which was what I really wanted. It’s just something that I do.”

Ms. Alley became interested in acting while she was living in Los Angeles. In “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” which came out in 1982, she played a half-Vulcan, half-Romulan lieutenant with pointed ears.

In the comedy “Look Who’s Talking,” which she starred in with John Travolta in 1989, Bruce Willis says what a baby is thinking. In a review for The Times, Vincent Canby said that “cute” was the “operative word” for a movie with “some good actors doing not-super material.”

Ms. Alley turned her attention to a fake reality show about her weight in 2005. She said at the time that the show “Fat Actress” was based on her experience as a woman in Hollywood who did not meet the stereotypically thin beauty standards of the industry. “Kirstie Alley’s Big Life” was another show about Ms. Alley’s journey to lose weight.

Ms. Alley was married to Bob Alley, but they later split up. Later, she got a divorce from Parker Stevenson, too.

True and Lillie Parker are the only ones who will remember her. A full list of the survivors was not available right away.

In 1997, Ms. Alley told The New York Times that she had always looked for TV series so she could have a regular schedule and be closer to her family.

“It’s the best way to live,” said Ms. Alley.

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