Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Actress Kirstie Alley dies at 71

with 4 comments

It’s taken me a day since I heard about actress Kirstie Alley’s passing to figure out what I wanted to say.

Alley was almost an icon, in some senses. Whether it was weight loss, taking on tough challenges later in life (she was on Dancing with the Stars in 2011, when she was 59 going on 60), discussing difficult subjects (she once asked a reporter from my best recollection, “Are you a chubby chaser? Shouldn’t you be?”), or being outspoken in nearly every aspect of life, Alley was an American original in the best of senses.

I first saw Alley in STAR TREK II: The Wrath of Khan. She played Lieutenant Saavik, who was Spock’s mentee and almost his foster daughter. Saavik was half-Vulcan, half-Romulan, so she had more emotions than most Vulcans, yet she’d grown up more in the Vulcan way and did her best to follow logic rather than give in to her emotional side. The body language of Saavik was quite different than any other character Alley played later on; it was fluid in the lower body but restrained in the upper body. (She’d said this is how she viewed Leonard Nimoy’s performance as Spock, so she was emulating that the best she could as far as body language went.) This “mirroring” made it clear, without speaking, that she was deeply attached to her mentor, Spock.

Later, Alley was in Cheers, one of the longest running comedies ever on the “small screen” (aka television). She played the difficult and demanding Rebecca in such a way that you kind of liked her even though Rebecca threw out verbal jabs as easily as she served up a drink to the bar’s regulars. She won an Emmy for that performance.

In everything she did, Alley was memorable. Quotable.

Alley’s dance partner from Dancing, Maksim Chmerikovskiy, left an emotional tribute to Alley on Instagram. He said, in part, “You were one of the most unique people I have ever met and easily one of the brightest moments of my personal and professional life.” He wished her “the most peaceful rest,” and said he loved her and wished he’d spoken to her more often.

People who have huge hearts and spirits like Alley should be celebrated (which is exactly what Maksim C. did, above). They are unafraid to be themselves. They are unafraid of censure, because they know for the most part it’s meaningless and won’t matter in the end. They are more interested in self-improvement and being good to others than they are about anything else except their work, where they usually excel…and they are people who live full lives because they know that’s the only way to be true to themselves.

Alley’s life, especially after age fifty, seemed more like Auntie Mame (from the 1958 movie) than anything else. She was eccentric, outspoken, interesting, funny, yet had her vulnerable side as well. She was exactly the type of woman that I, in my midlife, hope to become someday.

May her memory always be a blessing.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 6, 2022 at 11:24 pm

4 Responses

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  1. What I’m finding extremely sad are the Lefties making hateful comments about her because Kirstie’s views were the “Wrong Views”. 😡

    The Left always claims that they are nicer, more tolerant, etc. than the Wright but then pulls garbage like this.

    Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    December 6, 2022 at 11:33 pm

    • I think her views were her own. And as I’ve said so many times, we learn more from people who aren’t like ourselves, sometimes, than we do from people who are. There are so many assumptions as to what makes a good person, and most of them are flat-out wrong.

      Paul, what I mostly see from how people follow actors or musicians or players in various sports, is that people project onto their chosen public figures their own beliefs. They can’t know who those people are, so they make up a whole personality and persona for that person, as if they’re a good friend who allies with them in every respect whatsoever.

      In other words, they don’t treat public figures as people. They treat them as objects.

      This doesn’t happen just in our country or in the Western World, either. Aung San Suu Kyi was revered because of her stances on various issues in Myanmar, and around the world. But once she came to political power, she had to make compromises and some of them probably turned her stomach. Despite that, she did the best she could even as her “approval numbers” (what a strange phrase that is, if you think about it) tanked. Then, she was imprisoned again, with a certain percentage of her country seemingly thinking, “Good riddance to bad rubbish.”

      Yet she was the same person who’d suffered all those years in political confinement. She was the same person as she’d been before.

      Only what the other folks thought of her changed.

      So who’s right? The person themselves, trying to do what they they think matters? Or those on the outside, who believe they should impose their beliefs on everyone else?

      I don’t have to like Kirstie Alley’s political beliefs to respect her and her career and her personality. It doesn’t matter to me for many reasons, but here’s the biggest one: She’s dead now. Her beliefs were what they were, and as her life is over, they can’t be changed.

      Her family was what was important. And I’m betting that her kids had some stuff that they did or believed that was all different than what Ms. Alley believed. That didn’t change anything for them, or for her; they loved each other anyway.

      As they should.

      Barb Caffrey

      December 7, 2022 at 12:26 am

  2. I remember her from Star Trek as well. The fact that she was my age is a bit sobering.

    Kayelle Allen

    December 7, 2022 at 7:46 am

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