The Troubled Life Of Kirstie Alley

When Kirstie Alley set her sights on Hollywood in the late '70s, she had everything mapped out. "The plan was to come to California and be an actress. But, I didn't want to be a poor and starving actress," she disclosed in an interview with ET.

Alley landed an uncredited role in the NBC sitcom "Quark," which paved the way for her to rise up the ranks, first participating on the game show "Match Game," and eventually gaining an audience as Saavik on Gene Roddenberry's "Star Trek." Alley then broke out on another NBC sitcom, "Cheers," portraying Rebecca Howe, a character that earned her a Golden Globe.

Finally, she achieved her original goal as fame shot through the roof. In May 2000, she splashed $1.5 million on a 5,200-square-foot Clearwater mansion formerly owned by Lisa Marie Presley. It's safe to say that her target of becoming an affluent actor had come to fruition. Behind the scenes, however, difficulties plagued Alley. Here's a round-up of some of her saddest and most challenging moments.

Her divorce was 'an ugly process'

Kirstie Alley was married to "The Hardy Boys" actor Parker Stevenson for 14 years. It was a surprise that their union lasted that long, given that Stevenson was nothing like Alley. "Kirstie and I are exact opposites," he told People. "In any social situation, Kirstie lights up the room. I just tend to be in the room."

During the course of their marriage, Alley would develop other love interests; Patrick Swayze, with whom she appeared on the ABC miniseries "North & South," and her "Look Who's Talking" co-star, John Travolta. "I would have loved to have an affair with Patrick Swayze but we were both married," she said on  "Celebrity Big Brother UK." The couple eventually divorced, in what Stevenson described to People as an ugly process. According to the 1999 interview, it took a little over a year for the pair to reach a consensual agreement over child support and custody. Stevenson's $75,000 per month request was set aside, and he opted for a number of shared assets, amongst them a Maine residence.

Unfaithfulness didn't play a part in Alley and Stevenson's separation as the former let Entertainment Weekly in the know in a 1997 interview (via People): "There was no infidelity in my marriage, on either side....There was nothing other than maybe different goals in life."

She had a miscarriage

In her 2005 memoir, "How To Lose Your A** and Regain Your Life," Kirstie Alley revealed details of a miscarriage she underwent in 1990, only three months into her pregnancy. So affected was Alley, that it was hard to come to terms with the loss. "When the baby was gone, I just didn't really get over it. Neither did my body. I so thoroughly convinced my body that it was still pregnant [after] nine months that I had milk coming from my breasts," wrote Alley.

Two years after the incident, Alley and her then-husband, Parker Stevenson adopted a son, William True. In 1994, Lillie Price Stevenson joined the family. The pair would eventually grow into their own, and at 17, William got engaged. In a 2016 tweet, Alley revealed that she'd acquired a new title — that of grandma. She spent the holidays with her grandson and told People: "When I got up in the morning, as soon as that baby was up, I was holding that baby."

Lillie, on the other hand, announced her engagement in 2017. In 2021, she shared the arrival of her son on Instagram. "Ripp Woodrow Graham. You are perfect. Thank you for making me a mother," her caption read.

She struggled with weight loss

Kirstie Alley's weight loss journey panned out publicly. Her issues with fluctuating body fat, she wrote in her 2005 autobiography, began soon after her 1990 miscarriage. "I was still fat, I was still grieving, and I had just been told it was very possible I would never be able to have children. Fat, childless, with little hope for any future children...that's when I began to get fat," wrote Alley. The same year, Alley co-created the Showtime television series "Fat Actress," in which she played the lead.

In 2006, Alley famously strutted on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in a bikini, a decision she termed as stupid when she appeared on "Larry King Live." Her no-picture stance proved to be a big flop, given the episode's massive viewership many years on. As to why she put on weight after her unforgettable television stunt, Alley told Larry King: "I think it has to do with irresponsibility. I think it has to do with wanting — and I mean this in the true sense, and not in a pun sense — but wanting your cake and [eating] it too, because that's the story of my life."

This revelation was further echoed during Alley's appearance on "Rachael Ray Show" where she admitted to indulging too much over the holidays, which, in her world, ran from Halloween well into her January birthday.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741)

Kirstie Alley was allegedly sued for false advertising

At the age of 60, Kirstie Alley had a massive weight drop which rendered her 70 pounds lighter, according to an interview with People. A six-day-per-week training on "Dancing with the Stars" was the magic she needed to tone up, coupled with a custom weight-loss program dubbed Organic Liaison.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Alley was allegedly taken to court for misleading the public. The lawsuit, filed by dieter Marina Abramyan, suggested that Alley's weight loss was not due to the products she advertised. Instead, training on "Dancing with the Stars" solely led her to get in shape.

In a promotional video for the program, Alley mentioned that the brand's orchestration involved collaborations with medical experts. In retaliation, her representatives issued a since-deleted statement, in which she proclaimed to being on the program for a year and a half. "Dancing with the Stars" only made a small partial contribution to her weight loss, the statement further read. Only years prior, Alley was a Jenny Craig brand ambassador, who appeared in several of the brand's commercials.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741)

She struggled with a drug addiction

The '70s were a wild time for Kirstie Alley, best summed up in her book, "The Art of Men." "I'd done enough cocaine to kill several people," Alley wrote in the memoir. At a point in time, the "Drop Dead Gorgeous" star's need for the stimulant surpassed a regular weekend intake and stretched out into the week. As she told Entertainment Tonight, "I would do so much at a time."

It took one of Alley's pals to change her life. "One of my friends who ... was a Scientologist, she sent me 'Dianetics.' Somehow I got through it and I thought, 'This is either the world's biggest scam or this is how I'm gonna get rid of this hideous compulsion.'" And so, Alley cleaned up and traded the money she spent on drugs for flowers, as she disclosed in a 2019 tweet. Cocaine, however, wasn't her only addiction. She stopped smoking marijuana, too — something she shared in a sit-down on "The Dan Wootton Interview."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Her search for a companion

During an appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in 2010, Kirstie Alley acknowledged that marriage wasn't her strongest suit. "I was married at just 19 years old, and that didn't work," she gave away (via People). "Then I was married when I was 30 years old, and that's when everyone said you should get married, and that didn't work. So, I don't think I'm an expert on the subject."

Although matrimony wasn't her cup of coffee, Alley didn't give up on love. At 59, she was in search of a soulmate, and her requirements weren't too vague. Her ideal man, she told DeGeneres, was 51 ½ years old and not affiliated with the entertainment industry.

Two years later, the dating pool had proven to be murky, as Alley laid bare in another appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." She questioned her choice of men and resorted to dating unattractive men. In the years leading up to her death, Alley had allegedly taken to solo living, where she only interacted with her domestic workers and preferred to live in the comfort of her home.

Supporting Donald Trump impacted her friendships

In 2016, Kirstie Alley took her Twitter followers on a political trip. First, Alley declared her support for former President Donald Trump who was running for office at the time. "HELLO BOYS! this is my formal endorsement of @realDonaldTrump," her tweet read. She suddenly had a change of heart, and in response to a video of a woman handing a ladder to a litter of stranded cubs, tweeted, "I love this..but I hate this election and I'm officially no longer endorsing either candidate, I'm voting for the woman with the ladder."

When Trump was deep in the race for a second term, Alley showered the former president with praises. "I'm voting for @realDonaldTrump because he's not a politician ... he gets things done quickly and her will turn the economy around quickly," her tweet read, in part.

During an appearance on "Tucker Carlson Today," Alley disclosed that her political inclination affected her industry friendships. "On Twitter I had many celebrities [following] me, and now I think three follow me." According to Alley, not one bit of who she was had changed — given her previous support for former president Barack Obama.

Conflict with Leah Remini over Scientology

Kirstie Alley grew up in a Christian household. Her introduction to Scientology marked a major turning point in her life — but her parents didn't think so. Soon after Alley had announced that she was joining the organization, her mother, who was skeptical of the L. Ron Hubbard-founded movement, had a message. "My mother hands me a present, and I open it up, and it's a dictionary. And she says, 'Look up the word 'cult,”" Alley explained on "The Howard Stern Show." She defended the church fiercely during her life and rose to a high-ranking level.

One notable moment, however, was when former Scientologist and "The King of Queens" star Leah Remini hung her boots after 30 years in 2013. There was no love lost between the pair. Speaking on "The Howard Stern Show" Alley said of her feud with Remini, "I have blocked her on Twitter" (via Tampa Bay Times). She further added, "Because she's a bigot. If she was saying ... Jews are evil, Jews are a cult, would they be your friend?" 

On her end, Remini seemed to rehash the rivalry in response to a tweet by Alley about the Russian-Ukrainian war. 

A Stephen Hawking tweet was met with backlash

News of the 2018 death of physicist Stephen Hawking was received with sadness by the general public as well as celebrities. Led by former President Barack Obama, who tweeted, "Have fun out there among the stars," condolences to the Hawking family also poured in from actors Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch, both of whom depicted Hawking in biopics.

Kirstie Alley joined the long list of public figures who sent a tribute, except her since-deleted tweet sparked controversy. "You had a good go at it...thanks for your input," it read, as shared by Daily Mail. The tweet was thought to be insensitive by many fans, whose presence she questioned in a vague follow-up tweet.

Alley redeemed herself in response to a fan's post. "Probably one of the top 3 funniest people on the planet..beautiful mind," she wrote of Hawking. Following Alley's own death, a number of tweeps rehashed her original tweet.

Kirstie Alley died of cancer at 71

In December 2022, Kirstie Alley's children announced her passing through an Instagram post. The lengthy write-up indicated the cause of her death as cancer, and further acknowledged the Moffitt Cancer Center, in which Alley underwent treatment. "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," the post read.

Word about Alley's death was followed by condolence messages from those who knew her and her fans. In a series of statements made to People, Alley's "Cheers" co-stars remembered the actor in a fond manner.

John Travolta, who was the one that got away, according to Alley's appearance on "Celebrity Big Brother U.K," shared an Instagram tribute that read: "Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I've ever had. I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again." Similarly, Alley's ex-husband, Parker Stevenson broke his silence and penned a heartfelt message.

Her dream farmhouse is most likely incomplete

In a July 2020 tweet, Kirstie Alley hinted at wanting a life away from the glitz and glam of Tinseltown. "Searching for that small rural 'farm' the search continues I'm learning more about this country and myself, "she wrote.

She updated her followers on her quest for farm life through a second tweet, citing that making friends would be a Herculean task in the secluded areas she'd found. Luckily, Alley finally got what she was looking for and began setting up her estate. Of course, she tweeted about it. "Parts gutted..all doors, molding, blah, blah, saved." another tweet, posted in August 2021, read. 

The farm's location, Clearwater, Florida, was familiar territory, by virtue of being Scientology headquarters. Only two months before her death, Alley revealed that she was in the process of reconstruction, according a tweet. As of this writing, it's unclear as to whether her farmhouse is complete.