Kirstie Alley, Cheers star, dies aged 71

Kirstie Alley, Cheers star, dies aged 71

KIRSTIE ALLEY, a two-time Emmy-winning actor who rose to fame in US sitcom Cheers, has died aged 71.

Alley died on Monday of cancer which was only recently discovered, her family confirmed in a statement on social media.

"We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a short battle with cancer, only recently discovered," Alley's children said.

"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."

Alley was best known for her role as Rebecca Howe in the long-running NBC US comedy Cheers, in which she appeared as the on-off love interest of Boston bar owner Sam, played by Ted Danson.

Alley's children said, in the statement, that "as iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother" and spoke warmly of her "zest and passion for life, her children, grandchildren and her many animals, not to mention her eternal joy of creating".

The family said Alley had inspired them "to live life to the fullest, just as she did."

Born in Wichita, Kansas, Alley's screen career spanned over four decades.

On the big screen, her credits included Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanChampionsVillage of the Damned and the Look Who's Talkingfilms opposite John Travolta and Bruce Willis.

Along with her iconic TV role in Cheers, she also starred in the series Veronica's ClosetKirstie and Scream Queens.

She received a second Emmy Award for her role in the television film David's Mother in 1994.