Kirstie Alley was once described by Ted Danson, her costar on the long-running hit "Cheers," as "a biker chick crossed with an earth mother."
Alley's career has been a testament to tenacity. Before the Kansas native came to Hollywood in her early 20s she already had kicked a cocaine addiction. Before taking over the female lead on "Cheers" from Shelley Long, Alley had never acted in a comedy.
She replaced Long in 1987 after forgettable roles as a sultry alien in the movie "Star Trek II," an antebellum beauty in the TV miniseries "North and South" and an uptight goody-two-shoes teacher in "Summer School."
The much-beloved sitcom survived, and even thrived after the cast shake-up, with Alley's character managing the bar.
In 1989, Alley teamed with John Travolta and director Amy Heckerling in one of the year's biggest and perhaps most surprising smashes, "Look Who's Talking," which earned nearly $140 million.
She later starred in the sitcom "Veronica's Closet," which ran from 1997 to 2000.
Her fluctuating weight has kept the once-svelte actress on the cover of tabloids for years, a predicament she made fun of in fantastic, over-the-top fashion on the 2005 Showtime comedy "Fat Actress." Now those body issues have led her where so many celebrities go in the hopes of remaking themselves for the public: reality TV.
It's there that Alley said she discovered what her everyday life looked like from the outside. "When I see the footage, I'm shocked. I see myself playing with my lemurs, and then I see footage of the stuff around my house . . . it does look a little 'Alice in Wonderland-ish.' Apparently, I am very eccentric. I had no idea."