Kirstie Alley, Cheers and Drop Dead Gorgeous Star, Dead at 71

Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage

Kirstie Alley, who led multiple sitcoms and starred in the criminally underrated Drop Dead Gorgeous, has died of cancer. She was 71. News of the actor’s death broke on her social media in a statement written by her children, True and Lillie Parker. “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.”

Alley made her film debut as the Vulcan Saavik in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. From there, she co-starred in various TV and movie projects before replacing Shelley Long as the female lead of Cheers. Her character, Rebecca Howe, represented the go-go ’80s infringing on the dive-bar atmosphere of Cheers. Rebecca managed the bar for the corporation that bought it from Sam in season six. But her Sigourney Weaver–in–Working Girl tough exterior belied a Melanie Griffith–in–Working Girl vulnerable heart.

Alley appeared in such movies as the Look Who’s Talking series, the aforementioned Drop Dead Gorgeous, and It Takes Two, starring the Olsen twins. She led her second hit sitcom, Veronica’s Closet, from 1997 to 2000.

“Our mother’s zest and passion for life, her children, her 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,” her children’s statement concluded. “We thank you for your love and prayers and ask that you respect our privacy at this difficult time.”

Kirstie Alley, Cheers Star, Dead at 71