Legendary actress and Cheers alum 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, 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.”
Kirstie was born on January 12, 1951, in Wichita, Kansas. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in interior design but ended up catching the acting bug. She made her big screen debut in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, playing the Vulcan Starfleet officer Lieutenant Saavik. Kirstie went on to appear in several other films before landing the role that made her famous worldwide.
In 1987, Kirstie replaced Shelley Long on the sixth season of NBC’s hit sitcom Cheers, playing corporate boss Rebecca Howe, who 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.”
The actress 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.