Cheers co-stars Kelsey Grammer and Rhea Perlman lead tributes to Kirstie Alley

British audiences saw Alley in reality TV-mode on the 22nd series of UK Celebrity Big Brother in 2018, with the Kansas-born actor finishing second.

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

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.

Grammer, who played the psychiatrist Frasier Crane alongside Alley in Cheers, admitted that 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 provided to the 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.

Actress Rhea Perlman, actor Woody Harrelson, actress Kirstie Alley and actor Parker Stevenson attend the 42nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards
Rhea Perlman (left) became firm friends with Alley (second right) while working on Cheers (Alamy/PA)

“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.

It came after the death was announced by Alley’s family, who described her as an “amazing mother and grandmother”.

“To all our friends, far and wide around the world… We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered,” the family said.

John Travolta, who starred with Alley in the trilogy of Look Who’s Talking films, said his time with the actress represented “one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had”.

Sharing a picture of the pair together on Instagram, Travolta 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.”

John Travolta and Kristie Alley in the movie Look Who's Talking Now!
John Travolta and Kristie Alley starred together in the Look Who’s Talking films (Alamy/PA)

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.

“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.”