Kirstie Alley’s castmates on the long-running sitcom Cheers fondly remembered their coworker and friend as “brilliant,” “unique and wonderful,” and more following her death from cancer at the age of 71.
As People reports, the show’s lead Ted Danson (who played bar owner Sam Malone) noted in a statement that the day Alley died, he was on a plane doing something he rarely does: watching old episodes of Cheers. Danson described the episode as one where Tom Berenger’s character, a plumber named Don Santry, repeatedly proposes to Alley’s Rebecca Howe, who keeps saying “no,” even though she wants to say “yes” (a description that matches the show’s famous finale).
“Kirstie was truly brilliant in it,” Danson 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. 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 the surly lead waitress Carla, remembered Alley as “a unique and wonderful person and friend” whose “joy of being was boundless.” She continued, “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 played Frasier Crane, issued a short statement, saying only, “I always believed grief for a public figure is a private matter, but I will say I loved her.”
Alley joined the cast of Cheers in Season Six, taking over for Shelley Long after she decided to depart the series after Season Five. Alley won one of her two Emmy Awards for her work on the sitcom, picking up a trophy for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series in 1991.