“Kirstie is one of the funniest, nicest & strongest women I’ve ever met,” the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alum, 51, wrote via Instagram on Tuesday, December 6. “I am so lucky & grateful that I got to do a movie with her playing my mom. I was quite intimidated to work with her but she immediately made me feel so comfortable.”
The Wild Things star continued: “She had a heart of gold & deep love for animals. Her laugh was infectious & she lit up every room she walked into. Kirstie you are loved by so many & will be so very missed. Prayers to your kids & grandkids.”
The Cheers alum played Gladys Leeman, mother of Becky Leeman (Richards) in Drop Dead Gorgeous, a satirical comedy that followed beauty pageant hopefuls in a fictional Minnesota town. The 1999 cult classic also starred Kirsten Dunst, Ellen Barkin, Allison Janney and Amy Adams, who made her big-screen debut in the movie.
When the film turned 20 years old in July 2019, Richards marked the occasion with a throwback clip from one of the movie’s most controversial scenes: the moment where her character dances with a stuffed replica of Jesus on the cross. “I remember shooting this like it was yesterday,” the former Bond girl wrote via Instagram at the time, adding the hashtag “#jesusloveswinners” in reference to one of the movie’s famous quotes.
Alley’s family confirmed on Monday, December 5, that the late sitcom star died at age 71 following a battle with cancer. Her representative later noted that the Toothless actress had been diagnosed with colon cancer shortly before her death.
“We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered,” her adult children, William True Stevenson and Lillie Stevenson, wrote in a letter shared via their mom’s Instagram account on Monday evening. “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.”
After Alley’s death, tributes poured in from her friends and former costars. John Travolta, who starred alongside the Grease actor, 68, in 1989’s Look Who’s Talking, honored the late star via Instagram, writing: “Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I’ve ever had. I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again.”
Ted Danson, who worked opposite Alley on Cheers, said that he was watching an old episode of the sitcom shortly before he heard about her passing. “I am so sad and so grateful for all the times she made me laugh,” the Good Place alum, 74, said in a statement. “I send my love to her children. As they well know, their mother had a heart of gold. I will miss her.”
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