Advertisement

Kirstie Alley, Emmy-winning ‘Cheers’ star and Clearwater resident, dies at 71

“We are grateful to the incredible team of doctors and nurses at the Moffitt Cancer Center for their care,” her children said in a post on social media.
FILE -  Kirstie Alley attends the premiere of HBO's "Girls" on Jan. 5, 2015, in New York.  Alley, a two-time Emmy winner who starred in the 1980s sitcom “Cheers” and the hit film “Look Who’s Talking,” has died. She was 71. Her death was announced Monday by her children on social media and confirmed by her manager. The post said their mother died of cancer that was recently diagnosed.
FILE - Kirstie Alley attends the premiere of HBO's "Girls" on Jan. 5, 2015, in New York. Alley, a two-time Emmy winner who starred in the 1980s sitcom “Cheers” and the hit film “Look Who’s Talking,” has died. She was 71. Her death was announced Monday by her children on social media and confirmed by her manager. The post said their mother died of cancer that was recently diagnosed. [ EVAN AGOSTINI | Invision ]
Published Dec. 6, 2022|Updated Dec. 7, 2022

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 Monday. She was 71.

Alley, a Scientologist, moved to Clearwater in 2000.

Related: From Kirstie Alley to Tom Cruise to Dave Bautista, here are the famous folks who call the Tampa Bay region home.

Alley died of cancer that was only recently discovered, her children True and Lillie Parker said in a post on Twitter and Instagram. 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.

They went on to say, “We are grateful to the incredible team of doctors and nurses at the Moffitt Cancer Center for their care.”

Related: READ MORE: Kirstie Alley is searching for a boyfriend for her rescue duck in Tampa

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 would win an Emmy for best lead actress in a comedy series for the role in 1991.

In this March 2, 1988, photo, Boston Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs, center, poses with the cast of "Cheers" during rehearsal for an episode in which he appears. Cast members include John Ratzenberger, Rhea Perlman, George Wendt, Woody Harrelson, Kirstie Alley and Ted Danson. Alley, a two-time Emmy winner who starred in the 1980s sitcom “Cheers” and the hit film “Look Who’s Talking,” has died. She was 71. Her death was announced Monday by her children on social media and confirmed by her manager. The post said their mother died of cancer that was recently diagnosed. "We are grateful to the incredible team of doctors and nurses at the Moffitt Cancer Center for their care," True and Lillie Parker said in their post.
In this March 2, 1988, photo, Boston Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs, center, poses with the cast of "Cheers" during rehearsal for an episode in which he appears. Cast members include John Ratzenberger, Rhea Perlman, George Wendt, Woody Harrelson, Kirstie Alley and Ted Danson. Alley, a two-time Emmy winner who starred in the 1980s sitcom “Cheers” and the hit film “Look Who’s Talking,” has died. She was 71. Her death was announced Monday by her children on social media and confirmed by her manager. The post said their mother died of cancer that was recently diagnosed. "We are grateful to the incredible team of doctors and nurses at the Moffitt Cancer Center for their care," True and Lillie Parker said in their post. [ IRA MARK GOSTIN | AP ]

“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.

Ted Danson, left, and Kirstie Alley pose backstage at the 48th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 19, 1991, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Danson and Alley won for best actor and best actress in a television comedy for their work on "Cheers." Alley, a two-time Emmy winner who starred in the 1980s sitcom “Cheers” and the hit film “Look Who’s Talking,” has died. She was 71.
Ted Danson, left, and Kirstie Alley pose backstage at the 48th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 19, 1991, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Danson and Alley won for best actor and best actress in a television comedy for their work on "Cheers." Alley, a two-time Emmy winner who starred in the 1980s sitcom “Cheers” and the hit film “Look Who’s Talking,” has died. She was 71. [ DOUG PIZAC | AP ]

She would take a second Emmy 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.”

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

In the 1989 comedy “Look Who’s Talking,” which gave her a major career boost, she played the mother of a baby who’s inner thoughts were voiced by Bruce Willis. She would also appear in a 1990 sequel “Look Who’s Talking Too,” and another in 1993, “Look Who’s Talking Now.”

Stay on top of what’s happening in Tampa

Stay on top of what’s happening in Tampa

Subscribe to our free Tampa Times newsletter

You’ll get a roundup of the biggest Tampa community news twice a week.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

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,” Travolta said, along with a photo of Alley. “I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”

Related: Is John Travolta moving to Clearwater? Records for home next to Kirstie Alley's property offer hints

She would play 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.

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 appeared on the competition series “The Masked Singer” wearing a baby mammoth costume earlier this year.

FILE - Kirstie Alley attends the Broadway opening night of "Constellations" at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in New York. Alley, a two-time Emmy winner who starred in the 1980s sitcom “Cheers” and the hit film “Look Who’s Talking,” has died. She was 71. Her death was announced Monday by her children on social media and confirmed by her manager. The post said their mother died of cancer that was recently diagnosed. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - Kirstie Alley attends the Broadway opening night of "Constellations" at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, in New York. Alley, a two-time Emmy winner who starred in the 1980s sitcom “Cheers” and the hit film “Look Who’s Talking,” has died. She was 71. Her death was announced Monday by her children on social media and confirmed by her manager. The post said their mother died of cancer that was recently diagnosed. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File) [ GREG ALLEN | Invision ]

She appeared in the Ryan Murphy black comedy series “Scream Queens” on Fox in 2015 and 2016.

One of her co-stars on the show, Jamie Lee Curtis, said Monday on Instagram 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 in a statement that “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 organized 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.”

Kirstie Alley and Ted Danson in "Cheers."
Kirstie Alley and Ted Danson in "Cheers." [ GLOBE PHOTOS | Globe Photos via ZUMA Wire ]

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Alley attended Kansas State University before dropping out and moving to Los Angeles.

Like Travolta, she would become a longtime member of the Church of Scientology.

Her first television appearances were as a game show contestant, on “The Match Game” in 1979 and “Password” in 1980.

She made her film debut in 1982′s “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.”

Other film roles included 1987′s “Summer School,” 1995′s “Village of the Damned” and 1999′s “Drop Dead Gorgeous.”

Alley was married to her high school sweetheart from 1970 to 1977, and to actor Parker Stevenson from 1983 until 1997.

She told the AP in 2010 if she married again, “I’d leave the guy within 24 hours because I’m sure he’d tell me not to do something.”

By ANDREW DALTON and ALICIA RANCILIO, Associated Press.

This is a developing story. Check back to tampabay.com for updates.