Kirstie Alley Dies: "Star Trek" and "Cheers" Actress

Herbie J Pilato

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Actress Kirstie Alley has died at the age of 71, her family announced on Monday, December 5.

“We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered,” her children, William "True" and Lillie Parker, said in a statement posted to her Instagram.

“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,” they continued.

“As iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother.” Her kids thanked the "incredible team" of doctors and nurses at Tampa, Florida's Moffitt Cancer Center for their care of Kirstie during her cancer battle.

"Our mother’s zest and passion for life, her children, grandchildren, and her many animals, not to mention her eternal joy of creating, were unparalleled and leave us inspired to live life to the fullest just as she did," True and Lillie added, thanking fans "for your love and prayers."

Many press reports document Alley's breakthrough role as Rebecca Howe on the iconic TV sitcom, Cheers, which originally aired on NBC from 1982 to 1983. But the actress first made her impression in pop culture on the big screen by way of the original Star Trek film franchise.

Alley played Vulcan Starfleet officer Lieutenant Saavik in the 1982 movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. When the film became a massive hit, Alley, who according to Yahoo! News, was born January 12, 1951, in Wichita, Kansas, priced herself out of the Trek sequel, The Search for Spock, and was replaced by Robin Curtis.

In 1987, when Shelley Long exited her role as Diane Chambers on Cheers, Alley replaced that fair-haired actress not in the same role but with the all-new character of Rebecca Howe.

As Yahoo! News further explained, Howe was "placed in charge of the bar after Ted Danson's Sam Malone sold it. Their chemistry managed to equal that of Ted and Shelley, and the characters were engaged in a love-hate relationship. Kirstie appeared throughout the show's remaining run until its finale in season 11. It aired on August 19, 1993, and was watched by a whopping 93 million viewers. Kirstie won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role on Cheers in 1991. The brunette beauty starred in the beloved Look Who's Talking film franchise alongside good friend, John Travolta."

"Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had,” he wrote on Instagram following the news of his close pal's death, adding, “I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again."

As Yahoo! News concluded, Kirstie Alley "was married twice. She first wed her high school sweetheart Bob Alley, who coincidentally shared her surname, in 1970, though the marriage ended in 1977. Kirstie then married fellow actor Parker Stevenson in December 1983. They adopted son William True in 1992 and daughter Lillie in 1995. The couple split in 1997."

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA
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