Kirstie Alley, Emmy-winning ‘Cheers’ actress, dies at 71

Kirstie Alley, who became an American sitcom fixture after playing high-strung bar manager Rebecca Howe on NBC’s long-running TV show “Cheers” and received numerous comedy-related acting accolades in the early 1990s, died on Dec. 5. She was 71.

Alley died of cancer that was only recently discovered, her children True and Lillie Parker said in a post on Twitter. Alley’s manager Donovan Daughtry confirmed the death in an email to The Associated Press.

Over her four-decade career, Ms. Alley was known for her candidness — whether that involved openly sharing her feelings about weight loss; ardently defending the controversial Church of Scientology, which she belonged to for decades; or giving an off-color speech at the Emmy Awards.

Ted Danson, her co-star on “Cheers,” once called her “a biker chick crossed with an earth mother” and praised her lack of self-consciousness.

Alley would win an Emmy for best lead actress in a comedy series for the role in 1991. She would take a second Emmy for best lead actress in a miniseries or television movie in 1993 for playing the title role in the CBS TV movie “David’s Mother.”

She had her own sitcom on the network, “Veronica’s Closet,” from 1997 to 2000.

In the 1989 comedy “Look Who’s Talking,” which gave her a major career boost, she played the mother of a baby who’s inner thoughts were voiced by Bruce Willis. She would also appear in the 1990 sequel “Look Who’s Talking Too.”

John Travolta, her co-star in both films, paid her tribute in an Instagram post.

“Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had,” Travolta said, along with a photo of Alley. “I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”

She would play a fictionalized version of herself in the 2005 Showtime series “Fat Actress,” a show that drew comedy from her public and media treatment over her weight gain and loss.

And in recent years she appeared on several reality shows, including “Dancing With the Stars.”

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Alley attended Kansas State University before dropping out and moving to Los Angeles.

Her first television appearances were as a game show contestant, on “The Match Game” in 1979 and Password“ in 1980.

She made her film debut in 1982’s “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.”

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