Kirstie Alley, the star of such television hits as Cheers, Veronica’s Closet and a one time Celebrity Big Brother contestant , has died aged 71 from cancer. Alley had recently been diagnosed with the illness and was being treated at the Moffitt Cancer Centre in Florida her family confirmed. She was with her husband Parker Stevenson and family members at the time of her death.
In a statement from her children, posted on Alley’s Instagram account, both William and Lillie Price Stevenson wrote “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.
“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 American actress made her film debut in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan alongside some other smaller roles, but it was her starring role as Rebecca Howe in Cheers that made Alley a household name. Replacing Shelly Long as the source of Sam Malone’s (played by Ted Danson) romantic tension, Alley’s role remained on the show until its final season in 1993 and earned her an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe in 1991.
In 1989, Alley took her television popularity and parlayed it into a successful movie career, starring opposite John Travolta and the voice of Bruce Willis in the 1989 comedy Look Who’s Talking, and it’s subsequent sequels. Alley returned to television with her starring vehicle Veronica’s Closet from 1997 to 2000 ahead of appearances on Dancing With The Stars, The Masked Singer US and becoming runner up on Celebrity Big Brother in 2018.
“One of the most special relationships I’ve ever had”
Tributes from former co-stars have been made after the announcement of Alley’s death, including co-star Ted Danson who shared the importance of Alley’s comedic timing on the hit television show. “It was the episode where Tom Berenger proposes to Kirstie, who keeps saying no, even though she desperately wants to say yes. Kirstie was truly brilliant in it. Her ability to play a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown was both moving and hysterically funny.
“She made me laugh 30 years ago when she shot that scene, and she made me laugh today just as hard. As I got off the plane, I heard that Kirstie had died. I am so sad and so grateful for all the times she made me laugh. I send my love to her children. As they well know, their mother had a heart of gold. I will miss her.”
John Travolta paid tribute to his Look Who’s Talking co-star on his Instagram account, posting a picture of Alley dressed in white and writing “Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had. I love you Kirstie,” he wrote. “I know we will see each other again.”