Emmy-winning actress Kirstie Alley was beloved in the ’80s and ’90s, but the last decade of her life wasn’t all too kind to her. The former Cheers star had some theories as to why she lost her appeal, but she refused to bow down to critics. Here’s everything we know about the actress’ spirited and inspiring life.
Kirstie Alley Got Her Career Breakthrough On ‘Cheers’
Kirstie Alley was in the entertainment business for decades, but she’ll be remembered by most fans as the neurotic bar manager Rebecca Howe on the NBC series Cheers. She joined the cast of the hit show in 1987, replacing longtime star Shelley Long. Many viewers believed she had huge shoes to fill, but Alley cracked up audiences and earned a Golden Globe and Emmy award for her performance.
She also had a successful run on the big screen. In 1982, she made her film debut in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. She went on to star alongside Mark Harmon in the classic ’80s comedy Summer School.
Alley’s success on Cheers led to even bigger box office hits. The 1989 comedy Look Who’s Talking, co-starring John Travolta and Bruce Willis, grossed $297 million. It also spawned two sequels: Look Who’s Talking Too and Look Who’s Talking Now.
Alley’s next big sitcom, Veronica’s Closet, ran for three seasons on NBC between 1997 and 2000. In it, she starred as Veronica “Ronnie” Chase, the owner of a lingerie company.
The series was ultimately canceled due to low ratings, but the actress still won a People’s Choice Award for the role. She also boasts a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Her Career Slowed Down After ‘Cheers,’ But She Never Quit Working
Alley never quit acting, but she never re-captured the success of her Cheers era. Her IMDb page reveals that she worked steadily since the 1993 series finale. The only exceptions were two hiatuses from 2007-2012 and 2016-2019.
Alley attempted a comeback in the 2013 TV Land sitcom Kirstie, but it only lasted a single season. Her last notable gig was on the second season of Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens. She was also a guest star on an episode of The Goldbergs.
In the meantime, Alley stayed in the spotlight through alternative avenues. In 2018, she was a contestant on the 22nd season of Celebrity Big Brother. Two years later, she competed in Dancing with the Stars. With the help of her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, she boogied her way to a second-place finish, just behind winner Hines Ward.
Alley was also the longtime face of the weight-loss company Jenny Craig. Between 2004 and 2007, she lost 75 pounds while repping the brand.
“And then, you know, I went off the rails a bit,” she told Today in 2014.
Alley regained over 80 pounds by 2009. The following year, she debuted Organic Liaison, her own weight loss program. However, after she and the company were sued for false advertising, Alley sold the brand to Jenny Craig and returned as their celebrity spokesperson.
She Had Some Divisive Opinions, But She Was Unapologetic About Them
Alley claimed that the reason we didn’t see as much of her anymore toward the end of her career was due to her political leanings.
In May of 2021, she told Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson that she was “blackballed” for her preferred candidate.
“You can be cooking meth and sleeping with hookers but as long as you didn’t vote for Trump…” she told Carlson. “I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone a bit.” Alley claimed that her celebrity following on social media has dwindled down to just three stars.
There’s no saying how much Alley’s deep ties to Scientology also impacted her career. In the years leading up to her passing, she lived in Clearwater, Florida, close to the Church’s “spiritual headquarters.” (Given the organization’s secrecy, combined with Alley’s past history of threatening writers with lawsuits, we won’t speculate.)
Alley was unapologetic about her take on politics and current events. In October 2020, she had over 10,000 replies to a tweet that bashed CNN for its reporting on Covid-19.
Whether or not you agreed with her hot takes, you have to admit she looked pretty good for her age:
She Died Of Colon Cancer In December 2022
On December 5, 2022, a note was posted to Kirstie Alley’s Twitter account announcing her death. She was 71 years old.
Alley’s death shocked millions as her journey with cancer had not yet been made public. People reported that the star had just recently been diagnosed with colon cancer and that her battle with the illness was brief.
Alley was not the only star to receive a colon cancer diagnosis this year. Singer Taylor Dayne has been spreading awareness about the importance of early detection since receiving her diagnosis during a routine colonoscopy.
What Is Kirstie Alley’s Net Worth In 2022?
At the time of her death, Alley was said to have an estimated net worth of $40 million (per Celebrity Net Worth). We assume the bulk of it was earned through Cheers syndication. Other sources of income include real estate—in 2018, she slapped an $11.97 million price tag on her Los Angeles home. She also owned her Florida mansion, which she purchased from Lisa Marie Presley for $1.5 million.
But she wasn’t shy about spending her money on causes close to her heart. According to Celebrity Net Worth, she donated $5 million of her fortune to the Church of Scientology.