Kirstie Alley, ‘Cheers’ Star, Dies at 71

One of the signature film and TV stars of the 1980s and ’90s has died. Kirstie Alley passed away after a battle with cancer. She was only 71 years old.

A statement posted to her Twitter account read “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.”

Born in Kansas, Alley first broke through in Hollywood in 1982, playing Lt. Saavik in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, a young Vulcan who joins the crew of the Starship Enterprise. Although her performance made her a star, and Saavik reappeared in the two subsequent Star Trek films, Alley did not return for them and was replaced by actress Robin Curtis.

While Alley is still remembered for originating the role of Saavik, her most famous work was six seasons on the classic sitcom Cheers. She played Rebecca Howe, who becomes the manager of the bar. Alley was brought in after the departure of original series co-star Shelley Long following Season 5. Rebecca’s relationship with bartender Sam Malone (Ted Danson) became the central storyline through the rest of the series.

Alley won an Emmy for her work on Cheers, and a second for the TV film David’s Mother. After Cheers ended in 1993, she also headlined her own NBC sitcom, Veronica’s Closet, from 1997 to 2000. She played the owner of her own lingerie company, a la Victoria’s Secret.

Alley also had several major film hits. Likely her most well-remembered are the trio of Look Who’s Talking films, where she played the female lead; the mom to the baby who whose inner monologue (voiced by Bruce Willis) the audience can hear.

Alley left us at a young age, but she had an incredible career. Cheers alone will keep her in the public consciousness for decades to come.

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