John Travolta and Cheers co-stars lead tributes to Kirstie Alley

The Cheers actress died of cancer at the age of 71, her family has announced.

John Travolta and Cheers co-stars Kelsey Grammer and Rhea Perlman lead tributes to Kirstie Alley Statement/Instagram

Kirstie Alley’s Cheers co-stars Kelsey Grammer and Rhea Perlman, alongside John Travolta, have led tributes to the actress following her death at the age of 71.

A statement posted on social media through her official accounts said: “We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered.”

Alley debuted on the NBC sitcom in 1987 as Rebecca Howe, quickly becoming a fan favourite for her role opposite Ted Danson’s womanising bar owner Sam Malone.

She also appeared in various films throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including the 1989 romantic comedy film Look Who’s Talking, in which she starred with Travolta.

Fellow Scientologist Travolta said his time with the actress represented “one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had”.

John Travolta and Kirstie Alley starred in Look Who's Talking together. Instagram

Sharing a picture of the pair together on Instagram, he wrote: “Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had.

“I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”

Grammer, who played psychiatrist Frasier Crane alongside Alley in Cheers, admitted he had loved the actress.

“I always believed grief for a public figure is a private matter, but I will say I loved her,” the 67-year-old said in a statement to PA news agency.

In a separate statement provided to PA, Perlman said she had “never met anyone remotely like” Alley, adding that she would miss her “very, very much”.

“Kirstie was a unique and wonderful person and friend. Her joy of being was boundless,” Perlman, who played head-waitress Carla Tortelli on the show, said.

“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,” the 74-year-old added.

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis said the pair had a “mutual respect and connection” when they worked together in more recent years on the comedy horror series Scream Queens.

Kirstie Alley and Jamie Lee Curtis appeared in the comedy horror series Scream Queens. Instagram

“I’ve just heard the sad news that Kirstie Alley has died,” the actress wrote, sharing a picture of them together.

“She was a great comic foil in Scream Queens and a beautiful mama bear in her very real life. She helped me buy onesies for my family that year for Christmas.

“We agreed to disagree about some things but had a mutual respect and connection. Sad news.”

Horror director John Carpenter described Alley as a “delightful actress”.

“Kirstie Alley was a delightful actress I had the pleasure to work with on VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED. She will be missed,” he wrote.

Alley starred in the 1995 US science fiction-horror film alongside Christopher Reeve, Linda Kozlowski, Michael Pare and Mark Hamill.

Living Colour founder and guitarist Vernon Reid said Alley had “defined relatable” with her onscreen performances.

The English-American musician tweeted: “A lot of us are bummed right now.

“I can feel it. Kirstie Alley defined ‘relatable’. Beautiful and funny is not easy to pull off.

“Kirstie Alley was part of a small pantheon of the fearless and shameless. She always told her truth on screen. In our TV rooms.

“She is missed. Realtime.”

Alley won her second Emmy Award in 1994 for the television film David’s Mother and received a further Emmy nomination in 1997 for her work in the crime drama series The Last Don.

She was brought up a Methodist, but joined the Church of Scientology in 1979 after moving to Los Angeles, where she used the church’s affiliated drug treatment programme Narconon in response to a cocaine addiction.

She was married twice – to her high school boyfriend from 1970 to 1977 and to Baywatch actor Parker Stevenson from 1983.

After suffering a miscarriage, she adopted son William True in 1992 and daughter Lillie Price in 1995 with Stevenson.

The marriage to Stevenson ended in 1997 and Alley became a grandmother in 2016 following the birth of William’s son.

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