Kirstie Alley, who became an instant star thanks to her role as Rebecca Howe on the hit TV show Cheers, has died at the age of 71 after a battle with cancer.
“We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered,” read a statement, posted on Alley’s official social media account. “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 got her start as an actress on Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, but is best known for replacing Shelley Long on Cheers, playing opposite Ted Danson on the show, set in a Boston-based bar. She won an Emmy for her performance in 1991. More recently, she made multiple appearances on the reality show circuit, appearing on Celebrity Big Brother and Dancing With The Stars.
“We are grateful to the incredible team of doctors and nurses at the Moffitt Cancer Center for their care,” the statement continued. “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. We thank you for your love and prayers and ask that you respect our privacy at this difficult time.”
John Travolta, who starred opposite Alley in Look Who’s Talking, led tributes on social media, saying Kirstie was “one of the most special relationships” he’d ever had.