Actress Kirstie Alley, best known for her role as Rebecca Howe on the NBC sitcom “Cheers,” has died at age 71 after a short bout with cancer, her family announced Monday.
The announcement was made on social media by William True and Lillie Parker, Alley’s adoptive children with ex-husband Parker Stevenson.
“We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered,” they wrote. “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.
“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, grandchildren and her many animals, not to mention her eternal joy of creating, we unparalleled and leave us inspired to live life to the fullest just as she did.”
A Kansas native, Alley first gained fame with her appearance as Lt. Saavik in 1982’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” then later starred with Mark Harmon in “Summer School” and opposite John Travolta in the “Look Who’s Talking” trio of films.
But she got a major break in 1987 when she replaced Shelley Long on “Cheers,” becoming the new boss and love interest of Ted Danson’s bartender character Sam Malone. Alley remained on the series until it ended in 1993 as one of television’s most popular shows. The role earned Alley five Emmy nominations, winning once, in 1991.
She won another Emmy in 1994 for her work in the TV movie “David’s Mother” and later earned another Emmy nomination for her leading role in “Veronica’s Closet.”
Her other film credits include “Deconstructing Harry,” “It Takes Two” and “Drop Dead Gorgeous.”
Alley was also well-known for her public battles with weight, serving twice as a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig.