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Kirstie Alley: award-winning ‘Cheers’ actress dies at the age of 71

The celebrated TV star passed away following a brief cancer battle

By Nick Reilly

Kirstie Alley (Picture: Alamy)

Actress Kirstie Alley, best known for her role as Rebecca Howe in the comedy series Cheers, has died of cancer at 71.

A statement from Alley’s family confirmed: “We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away.”

Alley’s role as pub manager Howe in the 1980s/1990s sitcom bagged her an Emmy award and a Golden Globe. She also made notable appearances in TV sitcom Veronica’s Closet and the Look Who’s Talking film series.

The statement added: “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,” it continued.

“As iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother.”

Alley’s family went on to praise her “zest and passion for life, her children, grandchildren and her many animals, not to mention her eternal joy of creating”.

In a statement to Deadline, her co-star Ted Danson, who played the lothario bar owner Sam Malone, said: “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,” he added, having watched an old episode of Cheers earlier this week.

“As I got off the plane, I heard that Kirstie had died,” he went on. “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.”

Kelsey Grammer, whose role as psychiatrist Frasier Crane in the show bagged him a successful spin-off, added: “I always believed grief for a public figure is a private matter, but I will say I loved her.”

John Travolta, who starred alongside Alley in Look Who’s Talking, added on Instagram: “Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had. I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”