Beloved actress Kirstie Alley has passed away aged 71. On her Instagram page, her family shared the sad news that Alley had lost her fight with cancer.
Alley became a star through her appearance on the sitcom Cheers, and throughout her career, the two-time Emmy-winning actress starred in many successful films, as well as becoming a fan favorite on Dancing With The Stars.
Her family released a lengthy statement on Monday, sharing more details about her last hours alive.
Kirstie Alley’s early life was a rollercoaster. She was born on January 12, 1951, in Wichita, Kansas.
She graduated from Wichita Southeast High School and attended Kansas State and Kansas Universities, where she studied drama. However, her early days were marred by drugs.
“The truth of how I escaped Kansas is being high. I was drugged out of my mind … I got in the car, and I left to go to California,” she told Parade.
“If I hadn’t been drugged out, I would never have been able to realize my dream. It sounds so stupid but to extricate myself from Wichita, Kansas really took some doing.”
“With reality shows and things like that on TV now, people probably feel a little more hopeful that they could make something of themselves. But at that time, 30 years ago, it was just like, ‘How could I possibly dare to think that I could go be a star? How could I possibly think that?’ That’s more of a Midwest thing, you’re sort of humbled, and if you’re not humbled people will humble you, like, “Well, who the hell do you think you are to move to California and be a star? I mean, come on, Kirstie,” she added.
Alley left Wichita to pursue an acting career in California. She started as an interior decorator, but the party lifestyle proved too much for her.
She entered a tumultuous period, during which she experimented with many drugs and surrounded herself with the wrong people. Then, in 1981, tragedy struck her family.
A drunk driver hit her parent’s car, killing Alley’s mother and seriously injuring her father. It was, of course, a traumatic moment for the young woman. Years later, the drunk driver responsible spoke about the accident and wanted to meet Kirstie. However, the actress wasn’t interested at all.
“I can understand why Kirstie doesn’t want to talk with me,” the drunk driver added. “But if she changed her mind, I would tell Kirstie and her father how truly sorry I am for what happened that night and the pain that I caused them.”
The passing of her mother changed everything for Kirstie. She changed her lifestyle, moved away from drugs, and underwent rehabilitation. She also joined The Church of Scientology.
In 1982, she landed her earliest roles. She starred as half-Vulcan officer Saavik in the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which would turn out to be her breakthrough role.
A few years later, Alley was cast as Gloria Steinem in the TV movie A Bunny’s Tale. In 1985, she also played a minor role in the North and South miniseries, starring alongside Hollywood legend Patrick Swayze.