On December 5, actress Kirstie Alley’s children announced their mother died following a short battle with cancer. Shortly after, Alley’s former costar Ted Danson released a heartfelt statement praising her as “hysterically funny” with a “heart of gold.”
Danson famously played Sam Malone on all 11 seasons of “Cheers,” one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. Alley joined the show in Season 6 as Rebecca Howe, the new owner of the titular bar and a neurotic foil for Sam, as a replacement for the departed female lead Shelley Long. Alley quickly developed her own identity on the series and won an Emmy in 1991 for the role. In his statement, Danson remembered working with her, calling her performance both funny and moving.
“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,” Danson wrote in his statement to IndieWire, referring to the final episode of the series, “One for the Road.” “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.”
Danson’s statement follows an outpouring of condolences for the late “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan” and “Look Who’s Talking” star from several of her collaborators, including John Travolta, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Ever Carradine. Rhea Perlman, who played the salty waitress Carla Tortelli on “Cheers,” also shared a statement, calling Alley 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,” Perlman said. “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.”
Other “Cheers” cast members Kelsey Grammer, who played psychologist Frasier Crane, and John Ratzenberger, who played postal worker Cliff, shared brief statements on Alley’s passing. Grammer told People Magazine, said, “I always believed grief for a public figure is a private matter, but I will say I loved her.” Ratzenberger tweeted about the news, saying, “It’s so very sad. God bless you and keep you Kirstie Alley.”
It’s so sad. So very sad. God Bless you and keep you Kirstie Alley
— John Ratzenberger (@Dratzenberger) December 6, 2022