Ted Danson was doing something he doesn't normally do on Monday (December 5) — he was watching an old episode of Cheers, the NBC sitcom he starred in back in the '80s. While on a plane, "Sam Malone" himself was watching the episode where Tom Berenger's character proposed to Kirstie Alley's character, who was hilariously on the verge of a nervous breakdown. "She made me laugh 30 years ago when she shot that scene, and she made me laugh today just as hard," Danson told Deadline.
Danson learned of Alley's death as he was getting off the plane.
"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," he said. Danson was cast on Cheers when it first aired as bar owner, head bartender and former baseball legend "Sam Malone" in 1982 while Alley joined in 1987 as "Rebecca Howe," replacing Shelley Long. They both remained with the show through its 11th and final season. Both actors won several awards, including Golden Globes and Emmy Awards, for their roles on the show. The NBC sitcom set in a Boston bar was nearly canceled after its premiere, but went on to become one of the most popular TV shows of all time.
Other Cheers stars are also mourning the death of Alley, including Kelsey Grammer and Rhea Perlman, who played "Dr. Frasier Crane" and "Carla Tortelli," respectively.
"I always believed grief for a public figure is a private matter, but I will say I loved her," Grammer said.
"Kirstie was a unique and wonderful person and friend. Her joy of being was boundless. 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," Perlman said.
Alley died Monday after a short battle with a "recently discovered" colon cancer, her children William "True" Parker and Lillie Price Stevenson announced Monday. She would have been 72 in January. "She was surrounded by her closest family and fought with great strength, leaving us with a certainty of her never-ending joy of living and whatever adventures lie ahead. As iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother," Alley's family wrote. "Our mother's zest and passion for life, her children, grandchildren and her many animals, not to mention her eternal joy of creating, were unparalleled and leave us inspired to live life to the fullest just as she did." They also asked for love, prayers and privacy at this time.