Television viewers will especially remember Kirstie Alley as the hilariously neurotic and ambitious bar manager in Cheers, one of the most successful American sitcoms ever.
When she wasn’t fending off the advances of womanizing bar owner Sam Malone (Ted Danson), she was dreaming of being run over by a rich man.
But when the actress admitted years later that she had been politically wiped out by Donald Trump, all hell broke loose.
“Don’t think I’ve seen so many name-calling in my life,” Alley tweeted 30 minutes after her 2020 Election Twitter post revealing she voted for Trump “because he’s NOT a politician.”
Television viewers will especially remember Kirstie Alley as the hilariously neurotic and ambitious bar manager in Cheers, one of the most successful American sitcoms ever. She is pictured on the show with costar Ted Danson
Hollywood had a lot to say about Alley (pictured in June 2011) yesterday, but this time it was effusive in its praise after announcing that the two-time Emmy winner had passed away from colon cancer at age 71.
As she would later remark with astonishment at Hollywood’s double standards, “You can cook meth and sleep with whores, but as long as you apparently haven’t voted for Trump.” . .’
Tinseltown was naturally incensed by her political leanings and she said she was blacklisted. But the ardent Scientologist, who claimed the controversial “church” saved her from drug addiction and who once danced across Oprah’s stage in a red lace bikini after losing 75 pounds, was never shy of causing a stir.
Hollywood had a lot to say about Alley yesterday, but this time it was lavish in its praise after announcing that the two-time Emmy winner had passed away from colon cancer at the age of 71. mother passed away after battling with recently discovered cancer,” her family said in a statement released Monday night.
She was surrounded by her immediate family and fought with great strength, giving us the assurance of her never-ending joy in life and whatever adventures lie ahead. As iconic as she was on screen, she was an even greater mother and grandmother.”
Friend John Travolta, a fellow Scientologist and her co-star in the 1989 film Look Who’s Talking, said, “Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had. I love you Kristie. I know we’ll see each other again.’
Ted Danson said Alley had been “really brilliant” in Cheers, adding, “I’m so sad and so thankful 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’ll miss her.’
Kelsey Grammer, who Dr. Frasier Crane starred in Cheers — and then starred in the spin-off Frasier — saying, “I’ve always believed grieving for a public figure is a private matter, but I’ll say I loved her.”
As for Donald Trump, he said, ‘Kirstie was a wonderful person who really loved the US. She will be missed!!!’
Alley with her close friend and co-star John Travolta, another Scientologist. Travolta joined in 1975
Alley said she fell in love with Travolta while they were working together on Look Who’s Talking, in which they portrayed a pair of lovers raising a child — and remained in love with him long afterward.
Alley’s route to stardom was unconventional. The daughter of a Kansas lumber company, she dropped out of college to pursue interior design, but then developed a cocaine addiction.
She moved to Los Angeles and joined Narconon, an addiction rehabilitation program run by the Church of Scientology. She later insisted she had heard nothing negative about the group, which is considered a cult in some countries. She said it “answered a lot of questions for me” and helped her pursue her ambition of acting.
She made her pointy-eared film debut playing a Vulcan comrade of Mr Spock in the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan. Several film and TV roles followed, but she had a big hit in 1987 when she replaced Shelley Long in Cheers as bar manager and object of Ted Danson’s desires.
Playing Rebecca Howe for six seasons, she was widely credited with saving Cheers, as many considered Long’s relationship with Danson to be the best of the hit American TV show.
They predicted it wouldn’t survive Long’s departure, but Alley proved the doomsayers wrong in spectacular fashion.
She built an onscreen chemistry with Danson that was arguably even more watchable – portraying a versatile, messy character who was glamorous and badass, but also eccentric and vulnerable.
Alley said the making of the show was wonderfully chaotic, with the cast – including Woody Harrelson – misbehaving forever.
“We never paid attention, we were always in trouble, we never showed up on time,” she said. “If #MeToo had been around when we were doing Cheers we would all be in jail.
“We used to take naked pictures of each other, kick open the bathroom doors … before we shot, we stuck our tongues in each other’s throats.”
Like Harrelson, she found Cheers a useful springboard in Hollywood. Look Who’s Talking, a Travolta movie comedy starring Bruce Willis as their baby, was a hit with audiences, if not critics, and spawned two sequels.
Alley was cast in 1987 as Rebecca Howe in NBC’s iconic sitcom Cheers, which revolved around a group of friends and their main hangout, a Boston bar.
A foxy and leather-clad Alley co-starred with a very young Patrick Dempsey in the 1989 film Loverboy
Kirstie Alley has her 1994 Emmy for her work in David’s Mother, a made-for-television film in which Alley portrayed a mother caring for an autistic son
Alley made no secret of the fact that she struggled to keep up with her industry’s demands to stay slim. She said her weight increased to over 16 while consuming up to 28,000 calories a day and eating “with wild abandon.” She told Oprah Winfrey that she had an epiphany in 2004 when she realized her weight had become the only thing about her that really interested the media.
She quit smoking and became a spokeswoman for weight-loss company Jenny Craig. In 2005, she made the comedy series Fat Actress, in which she covered her attempts to slim down and get back on TV. Five years later, she plowed the same squad with the reality TV series Kirstie Alley’s Big Life.
Alley also launched her own weight-loss company, denying any connection with Scientology.
But in 2013, she had to pay a $130,000 settlement after being sued over allegations that her significant weight loss was due to exercise rather than her diet products.
However, she said she disliked the waif look: “I have a theory that skinny women aren’t sexy. To me, being sexy doesn’t mean looking skin and bones.”
Reality TV competitions became an Alley specialty: in the US she competed in Dancing With The Stars in 2011 and this year she appeared in The Masked Singer, while in the UK she came second in Celebrity Big Brother in 2018. And the actress insisted she aligned her career with her home life, which was messy at times.
Her seven-year marriage to high school sweetheart Bob Alley ended in divorce in 1977, as did a later 14-year marriage to actor Parker Stevenson, with whom she adopted two children, William and Lillie. They divorced in 1997 and fought a custody battle for the couple.
In a 2021 memoir, The Art Of Men (I Prefer Mine Al Dente), Alley wrote about falling for Patrick Swayze and John Travolta.
She said she was instantly drawn to Swayze when they starred in the 1980s Civil War drama North And South.
“We weren’t having an affair,” she said. “But then again, I think what I did was worse. Because I think if you fall in love with someone when you’re married, you’re endangering your own marriage and theirs. It’s doubly bad.’
Kirstie Alley poses next to her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997
She described Travolta as the “greatest love” of her life, but again resisted temptation because she was married. “Believe me, it took everything… not to run off and marry John,” she said.
While some celebrities have stopped following Scientology due to the many public embarrassments, Alley remained faithful. She declined to reprise her role from Cheers in the spin-off Frasier, as the latter was about psychiatrists, a profession that Scientologists condemn.
Since 2000, Alley has lived near Scientology’s headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, in a waterfront mansion once owned by ex-Church member Lisa Marie Presley. In 2007, she reportedly gave the group $5 million.
The arrival of Donald Trump on the Republican scene shifted criticism of Alley to her political views.
She claimed that her support for Trump, which she first voiced in 2016 after previously supporting Barack Obama, resulted in her being denied employment in pro-democracy Hollywood. And recently she caused social media scandal by claiming she didn’t “know what’s real or what’s fake” about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
But the actress who could quell a bar full of unruly regulars with just one look on Cheers rarely seemed to care what others thought of her.