Kirstie Alley, who won an Emmy for playing Rebecca Howe on Cheers and starred in several other sitcoms, has died at the age of 71.
“We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered,” her children True and Lillie said in a statement shared to Alley’s official Twitter account. “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.”
The statement continued: “We are grateful to the incredible team of doctors and nurses at the Moffitt Cancer Center for their care. Our mother’s zest and passion for life, her children, her grandchildren and her many animals, not to mention her eternal joy of creating, were unparalleled and leave us inspired to live life to the fullest just as she did. We thank you for your love and prayers and ask that you respect our privacy at this difficult time.”
Alley made her screen debut in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and appeared in the ABC miniseries North and South before taking on the role of tightly wound bar manager Rebecca Howe on the NBC hit Cheers in 1987. Alley was replacing Shelley Long as the series’ female lead opposite Ted Danson, but the comedy didn’t miss a beat, with Cheers climbing the Nielsen charts to become TV’s top-rated show in its ninth season. Alley was nominated for five Emmys for her work on Cheers, winning in 1991.
After Cheers ended in 1993, Alley went on to star in the NBC sitcom Veronica’s Closet, which ran for three seasons. She also starred in Showtime’s Fat Actress in 2005 and TV Land’s Kirstie from 2013 to 2014. She competed on Season 12 of Dancing With the Stars as well, finishing second to winner Hines Ward, and returned for the all-star Season 15. Her other film credits included the Look Who’s Talking movies, alongside John Travolta, and Summer School.