Shortly before he learned of Kirstie Alley’s death, “Cheers” co-star Ted Danson happened to put on their sitcom.
Danson says he was on a flight Monday when he watched an episode in which Alley’s character, Rebecca Howe, repeatedly rejects proposals by her eventual husband, played by Tom Berenger.
“Her ability to play a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown was both moving and hysterically funny,” Danson said in a statement to Deadline.
“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.”
Danson, who played bar owner Sam Malone, is one of several “Cheers” stars to pay tribute to Alley, whose death at age 71 was announced Monday by her family.
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Alley died shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, her family said.
[ ‘Cheers’ Stars Ted Danson, Kelsey Grammer & Rhea Perlman Mourn Kirstie Alley ]
The actress joined “Cheers” for the long-running show’s sixth season and quickly made an impression, says Rhea Pearlman, who starred as Carla Tortelli.
“We became friends almost instantly when she joined the cast of ‘Cheers,’” Pearlman said, according to Deadline. “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.”
Alley starred on the final six seasons of “Cheers,” appearing in more than 100 episodes and winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of bar manager Rebecca.
“I always believed grief for a public figure is a private matter, but I will say I loved her,” Kelsey Grammer, who played the psychiatrist Frasier Crane on “Cheers” before leading the spinoff “Frasier,” told Deadline in a statement.
In their announcement, Alley’s family members remembered the star’s “zest and passion” for life and her loved ones.
“As iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother,” their statement said.