Mayfield: Remembering Kirstie Alley’s legacy, both good and bad
Kirstie Alley is dead at the age of 71. Her children said on Twitter cancer was the killer, and it had only been recently discovered.
What a tragic and early end to an absolutely epic life. From Cheers to Veronica’s Closet on the small screen, to the Look Who’s Talking trilogy on the big. When Kirstie Alley committed to something, it was big, bold, and brash.
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As her fame grew she faced grueling and endless tabloid attacks over her weight gain and loss. And what did she do? She fought back with her own Showtime series “Fat Actress.”
Kirstie Alley also starred in one of my all-time favorite movies, the late 90s beauty pageant mockumentary Drop Dead Gorgeous. It had a standout cast, including Kirsten Dunst, Allison Janney, the late Brittany Murphy, and Denise Richards, among many others, and in true form, Kirstie Alley was the standout among those standouts.
At this point, I need to acknowledge the unacknowledged. Later in life, Kirstie Alley’s outspoken views began to conflict with my own. She did and said things that I and many others found to be troubling. Her politics, her religion, and her willingness to go too far, finally went too far.
Yet, does that negate everything else she did in her life and her career? Can’t we still look back on the art she made and the life she lives and mourn?
At the end of the day, and if we are truly honest, we are all problematic. Some of us in big ways, some of us in small ways. We are complicated and multifaceted in good and bad ways.
I won’t minimize anything Kirstie Alley did or said. She did and said it.
However, I also won’t apologize for appreciating so much more of what she did and said so often in so many beautiful, hilarious, and brave ways.
Kirstie Alley, you made life for me a little better through your art, and for that, I can say thank you and rest in peace.