It’s a sad day for Cheers fans, as the beloved actress Kirstie Alley has died at the age of 71. After a battle with cancer, the iconic TV and film star passed away on December 5th, and the loss was immediately felt by those who knew her best.
Among those were her costars on the hit NBC sitcom Cheers, which included stars like Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, and George Wendt. Kristie replaced Shelley Long after she left the show in 1987. She appeared in 147 episodes of Cheers between 1987 and 1993 as Rebecca Howe, the new bar manager. The role won her an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe in 1991 and it became a part of her acting legacy, along with roles in films like the Look Who’s Talking franchise and more recently, Dancing with the Stars.
In statements to PEOPLE, Ted, who played Sam opposite Kirstie on the beloved sitcom, and Rhea, who played sassy barmaid Carla Tortelli, both spoke out on Dec 5. “I was on a plane today and did something I rarely do,” Ted said. “I watched an old episode of Cheers. It was the episode where Tom Berenger proposes to Kirstie, who keeps saying no, even though she desperately wants to say yes. Kirstie was truly brilliant in it. Her ability to play a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown was both moving and hysterically funny. She made me laugh 30 years ago when she shot that scene, and she made me laugh today just as hard. As I got off the plane, I heard that Kirstie had died. I am so sad and so grateful for all the times she made me laugh. I send my love to her children. As they well know, their mother had a heart of gold. I will miss her.”
“Kirstie was a unique and wonderful person and friend,” Rhea told the outlet. “Her joy of being was boundless. We became friends almost instantly when she joined the cast of Cheers. She loved kids and my kids loved her too. We had sleepovers at her house, with treasure hunts that she created. She had massive Halloween and Easter parties, and invited the entire crew of the show, and their families. She wanted everyone to feel included. She loved her children deeply. I’ve never met anyone remotely like her. I feel so thankful to have known her. I’m going to miss her very, very much.”
Kelsey Grammar, who memorably played cerebral psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane, also made a brief statement to the outlet. “I always believed grief for a public figure is a private matter, but I will say I loved her,” she said. Kirstie’s children were the first to break the sad, and unexpected, news on Monday.
“To all our friends, far and wide around the world… We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered,” Kirstie’s children said in a statement on Dec. 5 announcing her death. “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.”
— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) December 6, 2022
Her children, Lillie and True, also thanked the Moffitt Cancer Center for helping their mother. “We are grateful to the incredible team of doctors and nurses at the Moffitt Cancer Center for their care. 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,” the statement continued. “We thank you for your love and prayers and ask that you respect our privacy at this difficult time. With love always, True and Lillie Parker”