Actress Kirstie Alley, whose career spanned over four decades and earned her numerous acting accolades, died of colon cancer, on December 5. She was 71 years old. A representative for the actress confirmed the cause of death in People.
In a statement shared on social media, her children, True and Lillie Parker, wrote: “We our sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered.” They went on to thank the doctors and nurses who cared for their mother at the Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa.
Alley was best known for her breakout role as the bar manager Rebecca Howe in the NBC sitcom Cheers, a part she played from 1987 to 1993 and for which she received an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe in 1991. She later starred in Veronica’s Closet, also on NBC, as the owner of a lingerie and book company, a role for which she earned additional Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.
Alley died “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,” according to the statement from her children.
Alley was a spokesperson for the Jenny Craig weight loss program in the 2000s and spoke candidly about her weight loss journey and the criticism she received about her weight.
Via Instagram, John Travolta, Alley’s costar in the 1989 hit film Look Who’s Talking and its two sequels, shared that “Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had. I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”
Her Cheers costar Ted Danson told Deadline that he had been on a plane watching an episode of the show, something the actor said he rarely does, and was both moved and amused by Alley’s performance. He learned of Alley’s death only when his plane landed. “I am so sad and so grateful for all the times she made me laugh,” he said.
In recent years, Alley had become better known for her unfiltered and contentious opinions. She expressed support for the controversial Church of Scientology, to which she belonged. She downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic and endorsed the unauthorized COVID treatment ivermectin. She also publicly supported former President Donald Trump and the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
Trump took to his own social media platform, Truth Social to call Alley “a great person who truly loved the USA.”
“I’ve always felt like if someone asks me something, they want the real answer,” Alley told Good Housekeeping in 2007. “I think there’s also something about being from Kansas. Usually people think I’m from New York. The only similarity between New Yorkers and Midwesterners is that what you see is what you get.”