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Kirstie Alley’s ‘Cheers’ co-stars react to her death from colon cancer: ‘Heart of gold’

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CHEERS -- Pictured: (top) Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane, Ted Danson as Sam Malone, Woody Harrelson as Woody Boyd, (bottom) John Ratzenberger as Cliff Clavin, Rhea Perlman as Carla Lozupone Tortelli LeBec, Kirstie Alley as Rebecca Howe, George Wendt as Norm Peterson-- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank

Kirstie Alley with her Cheers co-stars John Ratzenberger as Cliff Clavin, Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane, Rhea Perlman as Carla Tortelli, Ted Danson as Sam Malone, Woody Harrelson as Woody Boyd and George Wendt as Norm Peterson. (Photo: NBCU Photo Bank)

More details about Kirstie Alley’s cancer battle have emerged as her Cheers co-stars and ex-husband Parker Stevenson pay tribute.

It was reported Tuesday that Alley, who died at 71, was quietly battling colon cancer, her rep told People.

In announcing Alley’s death on Monday, her children with Stevenson, True and Lillie Parker, said she died from cancer, which had only recently been discovered. They thanked Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., for providing her end-of-life care.

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Overnight, Alley’s co-stars from the show that made her most famous — Cheers — paid tribute. She played Rebecca Howe from 1987 to 1993, winning an Emmy and Golden Globe for the part.

Ted Danson, whose Sam Malone was friends, lovers and co-bar owners with Alley’s character over its long run, said in a statement to the same outlet, “I was on a plane today and did something I rarely do. I watched an old episode of Cheers. It was the episode where Tom Berenger proposes to Kirstie, who keeps saying no, even though she desperately wants to say yes. Kirstie was truly brilliant in it. Her ability to play a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown was both moving and hysterically funny. 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.”

CHEERS -- Pictured: (l-r) Ted Danson as Sam Malone, Kirstie Alley as Rebecca Howe (Photo by NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Ted Danson as Sam Malone and Kirstie Alley as Rebecca Howe (Photo: NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Kelsey Grammer, who played Frasier on the show and its spin-off and upcoming reboot, told USA Today, “I always believed grief for a public figure is a private matter, but I will say I loved her.”

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Rhea Perlman, whose tough waitress Carla Tortelli would give Alley’s Rebecca (and everyone else) the business, called her “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.”

John Ratzenberger, who played barfly and mailman Cliff Clavin, tweeted, “It’s so sad. So very sad. God Bless you and keep you Kirstie Alley.”

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Cheers guest stars, including Harry Connick Jr., have also posted tributes.

The Cheers cast reconnected many times through the years, including a mini Cheers reunion (sans Danson, Grammer and Harrelson) on The Goldbergs in 2019.

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Also posting a tribute is Alley’s second husband, Baywatch alum Stevenson. The pair married in 1983, and she famously thanked him in her 1991 Emmys speech for being “the man who has given me the big one for the last eight years.” After experiencing a pregnancy loss, they adopted William “True” in 1992 and Lillie in 1995, but divorced in 1997 and had a bitter split. The exes were grandparents.

Alongside an old photo of them together, he wrote, “Dear Kirstie, I am so grateful for our years together, and for the two incredibly beautiful children and now grandchildren that we have. You will be missed. With love, Parker.”

It was announced on Monday that the actress, who also starred in the Look Who’s Talking movies as well as Veronica’s Closet, Fat Actress and Scream Queens had died.

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Among those posting early reactions was John Travolta, her Look Who’s Talking co-star. Through the years Alley has said she was in love with Travolta, but they never acted on because she was married and then he met and married the late wife Kelly Preston.

“Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had,” Travolta wrote to his friend. “I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”

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