Opinion

Kirstie Alley, Emmy-Winning ‘Cheers’ Actress, Dies at 71

Kirstie Alley, the actress whose breakout role as the career-minded Rebecca Howe in the sitcom “Cheers” catapulted her career and earned her an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe, died on Monday. She was 71.

The cause was cancer, according to a statement from her family on Twitter.

Ms. Alley quickly won over millions of viewers while playing Rebecca in “Cheers,” the timeless NBC show that was broadcast for 11 seasons in the 1980s and ’90s. She had stepped in to replace Shelley Long in the ensemble cast in 1987, at the height of the series’ popularity, and remained until the final season.

Critics noted how Ms. Alley had brought a refreshing new dynamic to the character, with writers giving her a more fun arc that helped create a “denser joke machine,” as one writer noted. At times, Rebecca, who managed the bar in the show, appeared to be a hapless and gold-digging mess. In other moments, Ms. Alley portrayed Rebecca with a faux-bravado, and with an attitude of indifference to others romantic advances.

Ms. Alley also starred in the NBC sitcom “Veronica’s Closet,” which ran from 1997 to 2000. Her character was the successful head of a lingerie company.

Marta Kauffman, a creator and an executive producer of “Veronica’s Closet,” said of Ms. Alley in 1997: “She is crazy most of the time, and I mean that in the best sense of the word.”

This obituary will be updated.

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