Cheers Stars, John Travolta And More Pay Tribute To Kirstie Alley After Her Death At 71

Kirstie Alley’s career in TV and film started over 40 years ago, even before her breakout role in the NBC sitcom Cheers, and, over the decades, she shared the screen with a number of notable actors and actresses. Known for series like Veronica's Closet and movies like Look Who’s Talking, she was beloved by her former co-stars, as evidenced by their outpouring of love following Alley’s death on December 5 at age 71. Many people, including John Travolta, Ted Danson and Rhea Perlman, took time to pay tribute and send their condolences.

Kirstie Alley’s children issued a statement on social media to inform the world of their mother’s death, and many actors who had worked with her over the years took to their own accounts with memories of the actress. John Travolta called their friendship “one of the most special relationships he ever had,” as they starred in three Look Who’s Talking films together: 

But before she was Mikey’s mom Mollie in that trilogy, she was Rebecca Howe, the bar manager at the establishment where everybody knows your name. The late actress joined the all-star cast in 1987, earning an Emmy Award and two additional nominations for the role. Co-star Ted Danson (a.k.a. Cheers bartender Sam Malone) spoke to Deadline about a lovely memory from their time together, saying: 

I was on a plane today and did something I rarely do. 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.

Rhea Perlman, who played Carla Tortelli on the NBC sitcom and later appeared on Kirstie Alley’s TV Land sitcom Kirstie, also mourned the loss of her friend, who she said she connected with “almost instantly” after Alley joined the Cheers cast in Season 6. Perlman told Deadline: 

Kirstie was a unique and wonderful person and friend. 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 Grammer preferred to keep his thoughts close to the vest, but said, per Deadline, of his Cheers colleague:  

I always believed grief for a public figure is a private matter, but I will say I loved her.

Actors from Kirstie Alley’s other projects also spoke out following news of her passing, including Scream QueensJamie Lee Curtis. Alley appeared on Season 2 of the Fox slasher comedy, and Curtis remembered her as a “beautiful mama bear”: 

In addition to acting, the Drop Dead Gorgeous star was known for the work she did as a spokesperson for campaigns involving Jenny Craig and Pier One. Fellow Jenny Craig mouthpiece Valerie Bertinelli reacted to the sad news: 

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Kirstie Alley’s final film appearance was in 2015’s Accidental Love. Later in her life, she appeared on the UK’s Celebrity Big Brother, where she was runner-up in 2018 and, earlier this year, she appeared on Season 7 of The Masked Singer, hiding her identity under the Baby Mammoth costume. Her death after a short battle with cancer is heartbreaking for so many, and our condolences go out to all of her family, friends and fans. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.