Kirstie Alley: Cheers star dies after short illness

 Kirstie Alley, best known for her breakout role as Rebecca Howe on the hit NBC sitcom "Cheers," has died from cancer. She was 71.

Alley's children True and Lillie Parker, shared the news in a statement posted to their late mother's Instagram Monday. 

"We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered," read the statement. Alley had not previously disclosed her cancer diagnosis.

"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," her children said. "As iconic as she was on screen, she was an even more amazing mother and grandmother."

Alley's ex-husband Parker Stevenson wrote on Instagram he was "so grateful for our years together, and for the two incredibly beautiful children and now grandchildren that we have." 

Alley's career took off when she starred opposite Ted Danson on "Cheers," the beloved NBC sitcom about a Boston bar, from 1987 to 1993. She joined the show at the height of its popularity, playing Rebecca Howe, the romantic foil to Ted Danson's Sam Malone, after the departure of original star Shelley Long.

Alley's "Cheers" co-star Kelsey Grammer said in a statement to USA TODAY that he "always believed grief for a public figure is a private matter, but I will say I loved her." 

In 1991, Alley won an Emmy for best lead actress in a comedy series for the role. She would take a second Emmy for best lead actress in a miniseries or television movie in 1993 for playing the title role in the CBS TV movie “David's Mother." 

From 1997 to 2000, she played the title role of a fashion mogul in the NBC comedy "Veronica's Closet," from the creators of "Friends."

She starred alongside John Travolta in 1989's "Look Who's Talking." Travolta paid tribute to Alley on Instagram Monday, calling their relationship "one of the most special" he's "ever had." 

Kirstie Alley: Cheers star dies after short illness

"I love you Kirstie," he wrote. "I know we will see each other again."

From 1997 to 2000 she had her own sitcom on US network NBC, Veronica's Closet.

Later, in 2018 she took part in UK Celebrity Big Brother, in which she finished as runner-up.

During her stint on Big Brother, Alley shared the house with other famous faces including reality star Dan Osbourne from The Only Way Is Essex, and Coronation Street star Ryan Thomas who finished in third and first place respectively.