Kirstie Alley Movies and TV Shows: The Best And Worst From The Iconic Actress

Kirstie Alley had a number of hit movies and TV shows including Cheers, Veronica's Closet, Look Who's Talking, and even Star Trek.

By Matthew Creith | Published

kirstie alley

The late Kirstie Alley might best be known for roles in movies and TV shows, but the controversial performer had a solid social media presence prior to her death. Alley catapulted to stardom in the Star Trek franchise and played Rebecca Howe on Cheers, but sadly passed away at 71 in December 2022.

One of the more successful television actors of the 1980s, Alley found herself jumping to A-list status in hit movies for decades before returning to television again.

A versatile performer who easily navigated the comedy and drama worlds, Kirstie Alley left a legacy of great performances in movies and TV shows and, unfortunately, a slew of not-so-great ones.

She costarred alongside famous faces like Ted Danson, Tim Allen, and John Travolta, in addition to leading her own reality television show in 2010. Alley always seemed to find herself on the cover of many tabloid magazines, but the last years of her life showed how much of a force she could be on competition shows like Dancing with the StarsCelebrity Big Brother, and The Masked Singer.

Here are a few examples of Kirstie Alley’s best, worst, and most underrated performances in movies and TV shows:


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan put Kirstie Alley on the map

Kirstie Alley’s career as an actor in movies and TV shows can be traced back to her debut movie role as Saavik in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. A Vulcan-born Starfleet officer, Lieutenant junior grade Saavik served time on the USS Enterprise alongside William Shatner as James T. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Spock. The film was a financial success, grossing close to $100 million at the box office against a budget of $12 million.

Even though Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan proved that the Star Trek franchise was successful enough to continue with other sequels, Kirstie Alley did not return to the role that made her famous.

Actor Robin Curtis took on the part of Saavik in the third installment Star Trek III: The Search for Spock after salary negotiations failed to bring Alley back to the franchise. Coincidentally, this decision freed Alley up to eventually take a major role on the hit NBC television series Cheers a few years later.

Look Who’s Talking was a box-office smash

While starring on Cheers, Kirstie Alley’s film career took off simultaneously with appearances in the Look Who’s Talking franchise. As a single mother navigating her professional and personal life, Alley joined John Travolta for the first three flicks as the main character Mollie, which began with Look Who’s Talking.

The initial 1989 film was conceived by writer and director Amy Heckerling, which demonstrates actor Bruce Willis in a voice-over role as Mollie’s son Mikey.

Look Who’s Talking had mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike when it premiered in theaters on October 13, 1989, and is not considered one of Kirstie Alley’s best movies. Rotten Tomatoes currently ranks the film with a 55% on its Tomatometer and an Audience Score of 47%. Despite the reception upon its release, the movie endured, eventually grossing nearly $300 million at the box office.

Look Who’s Talking Too & Look Who’s Talking Now Were Terrible

However, the two sequels to Look Who’s Talking are pretty atrocious. Look Who’s Talking Too costarred the voice of Roseanne Barr alongside Bruce Willis, while making the two babies the main characters, and Kirstie Alley and John Travolta more background performers.

1993’s Look Who’s Talking Now featured Alley and Travolta again in a reprisal of their roles, but was viewed as a box office bomb by grossing only $10 million against a budget of $22 million.

Kirstie Alley’s most underrated performance was Drop Dead Gorgeous

Kirstie Alley Movies and TV Shows

As far as Kirstie Alley’s movies and TV shows career goes, it was quite a roller coaster ride for the actor. However, one performance stands out in her filmography that has stood the test of time to become a cult favorite among gay men everywhere.

The movie in question is 1999’s Drop Dead Gorgeous and Alley costarred in the film alongside Ellen Barkin, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, and Denise Richards.

Drop Dead Gorgeous did not fare well at the box office when it was released theatrically but has found a home as a cult film ever since. The satirical black comedy movie centers around a teen beauty pageant in a fictional town in Minnesota set to a mockumentary style of filmmaking.

Kirstie Alley plays the delicious role of Gladys Leeman, the scheming mother of Denise Richards’ character who gets caught up in the whirlwind goings-on of the American Teen Princess Pageant and will do whatever it takes for her daughter to be crowned.


Cheers made Kirstie Alley a star

Kirstie Alley Movies and TV Shows

It should not be surprising that Kirstie Alley’s best work in movies and TV shows comes down to her role as Rebecca Howe in the long-running sitcom Cheers. Coming in as a replacement for Shelley Long in 1987 when Long left the successful series, Alley joined an impressive cast at the top of their game.

Every week, she went head-to-head with fantastic actors like Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, George Wendt, John Ratzenberger, Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth, and Woody Harrelson.

Kirstie Alley starred on Cheers from 1987 until the series finale in 1993, making her one of the most famous names on television at the time. She earned the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on the show as well as a Golden Globe Award in 1991.

Prior to Alley coming aboard Cheers, many experts in the entertainment industry felt that Shelley Long’s absence from the series would mean the show would get canceled.

Writing about how Kirstie Alley saved Cheers after Long left the show, Variety reports that series co-creator James Burrows noted that Alley “revitalized the show.”

After her death, Burrows told Variety, “I’ll miss the energy she brought into a room.” After Alley came into the series in the sixth season and matched wits with Ted Danson’s character of Sam Malone for viewers to enjoy, the show would run for 11 seasons total.

Veronica’s Closet showed she could carry a series

Kirstie Alley Movies and TV Shows

After the success of Cheers, Kirstie Alley parlayed her popularity into more roles in movies and TV shows, most prominently the series Veronica’s Closet. While less successful than CheersVeronica’s Closet saw Alley take on a double role as the lead performer and producer for a series written by Friends creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman.

As the head of a lingerie company headquartered in New York City, Kirstie Alley played the main character of Veronica “Ronnie” Chase opposite Kathy Najimy, Dan Cortese, Daryl Mitchell, and Wallace Langham.

Veronica’s Closet lasted on NBC for just three seasons until 2000 and was seen as one of the only successful television ventures at the time for Kirstie Alley as she handled her career in movies and TV shows.

She was nominated for another Primetime Emmy for her work on Veronica’s Closet, but viewership decreased each season the show was on the air. Balancing the two mediums seemed to be a lot for the actor, and her work in movies and TV shows reduced dramatically in the years after Veronica’s Closet’s cancellation.


Kirstie Alley attempted a career comeback in the mid-2000s by appearing on several reality shows while competing with tabloid stories about her controversial work with the Church of Scientology and supposed weight gain.

She starred on a short-lived series in 2005 called Fat Actress, which poked fun at her body image issues but was unsuccessful. She followed that up with the reality series Kirstie Alley’s Big Life and appeared on the 22nd season of Celebrity Big Brother.

Kirstie Alley’s last role in movies and TV shows was as a contestant in 2022 on The Masked Singer. She appeared as the Baby Mammoth but was eliminated in the eighth episode of that season.