Kirstie Alley, Emmy-winner for Cheers, dies aged 71

Kirstie Alley, the actress whose breakthrough role as career-minded Rebecca Howe on the sitcom Cheers catapulted her career and earned her an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe, died Monday. She was 71.

Her family said the cause was cancer Twitter.

Ms. Alley quickly garnered millions of viewers playing Rebecca on Cheers, the timeless NBC show that ran for 11 seasons in the 1980s and 1990s. She had replaced Shelley Long in the ensemble cast in 1987, at the height of the series’ popularity, and remained until the final season.

Critics noted how Ms. Alley had brought a refreshing new dynamic to the character, with scripts that gave her a funnier arc that helped create a “tighter joke machine,” as one writer noted. At times, Rebecca, who ran the bar on the show, seemed like an unhappy and gold-digging mess. At other times, Ms. Alley portrayed Rebecca with a false swagger and an attitude of indifference to the romantic advances of others.

Her character gradually evolved from a business-friendly manager to a full-fledged, friendly member of the gang who was cheeky but constantly disappointed.

in a (n interview With 2019’s “Entertainment Tonight,” Ms. Alley looked back on her “Cheers” years as a somewhat chaotic time when all manner of misconduct on a set with co-stars like Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson was the norm.

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

In addition to her 1991 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Cheers, Ms. Alley also won the 1994 Emmy for Lead Actress in a Miniseries for the title role in David’s Mother, a drama about a mother raising her autistic son alone.

Ms. Alley, who acted regularly for about four decades, also starred in the NBC sitcom Veronica’s Closet, which ran from 1997-2000. Her character was the successful head of a lingerie company.

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

Ms. Alley was born on January 12, 1951 in Wichita, Kan., where she was raised in a Roman Catholic family. She was particularly close to her grandfather, who owned a timber company.

She attended Kansas State University but dropped out to become an interior designer. It was around this time that she developed a cocaine addiction.

She eventually moved to Los Angeles and enrolled in Narconon, a rehabilitation program affiliated with the Church of Scientology.

When asked by Barbara Walters in 1992 about why she had joined a religion with a troubled past, Ms. Alley said she “didn’t see anything negative.”

“It answered a lot of questions for me,” Ms. Alley said of the Church in 1997. “I was a pretty capable person. I wasn’t looking for anything like that. But I wanted to get rid of the barriers that kept me from becoming an actress. It’s just a part of my life.”

While living in Los Angeles, Ms. Alley became interested in acting. In 1982, she made her film debut in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, playing a pointy-eared half-Vulcan, half-Romulan lieutenant.

In 1989, she starred opposite John Travolta in the film Look Who’s Talking, a comedy about Bruce Willis telling the mind of a baby. Vincent Canby, reviewing the film in The Times, wrote that “cute” is the “key word” for a film that has “some good actors playing material that isn’t great”.

In 2005, Ms. Alley turned her attention to a mock reality show about her weight. She said at the time that the show “Fat Actress” drew on her experience as a woman in Hollywood who didn’t fit the industry’s stereotypical slim beauty standards. Another show, Kirstie Alley’s Big Life, also focused on Ms. Alley’s weight-loss journey.

Ms. Alley was married to Bob Alley and the two eventually divorced. A subsequent marriage to Parker Stevenson also ended in divorce.

She is survived by her two children, True and Lillie Parker. A full list of survivors was not immediately available.

Ms. Alley told The New York Times in 1997 that throughout her career she looked to television series to help her work out her schedule and be closer to her family.

“It’s the best lifestyle,” Ms. Alley said. Kirstie Alley, Emmy-winner for Cheers, dies aged 71

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