What the Hell Happened to Shelley Long?

Shelley Long

Over the course of five seasons on Cheers, Shelley Long was nominated for an Emmy four times.  After the show’s first season, she won both an Emmy and a Golden Globe.  Long was Cheers‘s first breakout star to the point where many wondered whether or not the sitcom could carry on without her.  As it turns out, Cheers ran for six more seasons closing up shop in 1993.  By that time, Long’s movie career had long since fizzled out.

What the hell happened?

Shelley Long – Second City


After high school, Long moved from Indiana to Illinois.  She attended Northwestern University where she studied drama, but she left to pursue an acting and modeling career.  She joined Chicago’s famous comedy troupe, The Second City, in 1976.

Meanwhile, Long was working as a model.  She appeared in print ads for shampoo and commercials for soap and furniture.

Here’s a clip of Long promoting the weekend lamp extravaganza for Homemaker’s Furniture:


In the late seventies, Long started landing guest spots on TV shows like Family and Trapper John, M.D.  Here she is on an episode of The Love Boat from 1978:

That scene plays like a test run for Sam and Diane.

Shelley Long – M*A*S*H – 1980

Once Long had her foot in the door, she appeared in a string of TV movies and guest spots.  The Cracker Factory starred Natalie Wood as a suicidal housewife who goes to an asylum to recover.  Long played a fellow inmate.  In The Promise of Love, Long portrayed Valerie Bertinelli’s best friend.  She helps Bertinelli cope with the loss of her husband after he is killed in Vietnam.

Among Long’s numerous TV roles was an appearance on M*A*S*H.  She played a nurse who is initially attracted to Alan Alda’s Hawkeye.  But after Alda sobers up, he begins lecturing Long for drinking.  She ends their date early declaring that Hawkeye is no fun.

Shelley Long – Caveman – 1981

Long made her big screen debut the following year in the prehistoric screwball comedy, Caveman.  Former Beatle Ringo Starr portrayed a wimpy cro-magnon who loses a girl played by Starr’s future wife (Barbara Bach) to a rival in the tribe.  Starr and his best friend (Dennis Quaid) are sent into exile where they meet another tribe.  Among the misfits in the new group was a cavewoman played by Long.

Almost none of the movie’s dialogue was intelligible.  Instead, the actors spoke in a made-up caveman language.  In her audition, Long impressed producer Lawrence Turman:

The very first girl we interviewed was Shelley Long.  She hadn’t yet done a film, but was (and is) funny and talented.  I loved her.  But how could I only see one actor for the role and decide to cast her?  Well, I couldn’t.  The director and I must’ve seen thirty or forty others before realizing that Shelley was our girl.

Caveman was an inauspicious beginning to Long’s movie career, but it was a start.  That same year, Long appeared in the TV movie The Princess and the Cabbie.

Shelley Long – Night Shift – 1982

Long followed up Caveman with a supporting role in Ron Howard’s comedy, Night Shift.  Howard’s former Happy Days costar, Henry Winkler, starred as a former stock broker who takes a job at the city morgue.  Long played a prostitute (with a heart of gold of course) who moves into the apartment next door to Winkler’s.  After Long reveals that she is in the market for a new pimp, Winkler’s goofy coworker (played by Michael Keaton) convinces him to start a side business.

Howard and producer Brian Grazer noticed Long in Caveman, but she was filming another movie at the time.  Later, during a two-day furlough, Long read for the part of Belinda.  She was initially hesitant to play a prostitute, but eventually decided that she liked the character even if she didn’t approve of her profession.  She researched the role by meeting with real life prostitutes.

Reviews for Night Shift were mostly positive and the movie was a hit at the box office.  But Long’s success on the big screen was about to be eclipsed by a TV show.

Shelley Long – Cheers – 1982-1987

From 1982-1987, Long played waitress Diane Chambers on the NBC sitcom, Cheers.  But you already knew that.  According to cheers co-creator, Glen Charles, Long was everyone’s first choice for the part.  But the actress wasn’t sure she wanted to work on television:

I was not looking for a sitcom, because the philosophy at that point was that you had to make a choice: Were you going to do movies or TV? You couldn’t cross over. Then this script came along, and it was the best TV script I’d ever read.

Charles and company were less sure about casting Ted Danson as the womanizing bar owner, Sam Malone.  Originally, the character was written as a former football player.  Danson didn’t fit the physical type so the script was rewritten to make Sam a pitcher.  Also, Danson initially came across as somewhat insecure.  He said he struggled for about two years trying to figure out how to play the character.  But Long figured out Diane right away:

I maintain that I got Sam because I was teamed with Shelley. She was really unique. You can’t imagine anyone else playing Diane. She was Diane.

Co-creator Les Charles agreed:

Shelley knew who her character was and had a much surer idea of herself than the rest of the cast. She was able to carry the show in the beginning while the others were finding their way.

Despite critical acclaim, Cheers was not initially a hit show.  During its first season, it ranked 74th out of 77 shows in the ratings.  But NBC’s president Brandon Tartikoff championed the show despite the low ratings.  He claimed that he did so because he believed in the show’s quality, but also NBC didn’t have any hit shows to take its place.

It also helped that Cheers was nominated for nine Emmys that year.  It won four awards including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Long.

Shelley Long – Losin’ It – 1983

In early 1983, before most audiences has discovered Cheers, Long costarred opposite Tom Cruise in the teen sex comedy, Losin’ It.  Formerly titled Tijuana, Losin’ It was the movie Long was filming when Night Shift was being cast.

Cruise played one of four teens in the late 1950’s who take a road trip to Mexico to blow off steam and lose their virginity.  Long played an unhappy housewife looking for a quickie divorce who joins the boys for mischief and mayhem.

When it was released, Losin’ It was seen as just another cheap sex comedy at a time when the market was flooded with them.  Cruise and Long were still far from household names though that would change soon enough for both of them.  The movie was directed by Curtis Hanson who went on to write and direct L.A. Confidential.  I imagine all three of them would have liked to have forgotten their humble beginnings on Losin’ It.

When Cheers returned for season two, the show enjoyed a larger audience.  During the summer reruns, the show went from the ratings basement all the way up to 9th place.  But the creative team faced a new challenge.  They worried that after bringing Sam and Diane together in the first season, there was nowhere left to go.  Long offered a suggestion:

Our audience was so tuned in to every move, because the flirting between Sam and Diane during the first season was totally outrageous. There was talk about “Would it be right to advance the relationship, or could that condemn the relationship?” I put my two cents in—big surprise—and said, “In a real relationship, you take two steps forward, one step back. So just because we take two steps forward and get all the benefit from that doesn’t mean we can’t go back or to the side.” Ultimately, that’s what worked.

Shelley Long – Irreconcilable Differences – 1984

As Cheers grew more popular, Long was offered bigger movie roles.  Irreconcilable Differences was Long’s first appearance on the big screen since she became a TV star.

The movie was loosely based on director Peter Bogdanovich’s divorce from his ex-wife Polly Platt.  Ryan O’Neal starred as a director who leaves his wife in favor of an actress played by a pre-fame Sharon Stone.  (In real life, Bogdanovich left his wife for Cybil Shepherd.)  Drew Barrymore, who was a hot child star following her scene-stealing performance in E.T., played Long and O’Neal’s daughter who divorces her parents when they start to neglect her.

Irreconcilable Differences was a modest hit at the box office despite mixed reviews.  Both Long and Barrymore were nominated for Golden Globes for their performances.  Long lost the Globe to Kathleen Turner who won for Romancing the Stone that year.  Long won her first Golden Globe for her work on Cheers and she was nominated for another Emmy which she lost to Jane Curtin who won for Kate & Allie.

The third season of Cheers introduced Kelsey Grammer as psychologist Frasier Crane.  Frasier was introduced as a temporary character meant to form the third point on a love triangle.  But the show’s producers liked Grammer’s performance so much, they kept the character around.  Initially, Grammer was perpetually worried about his future on the show.  In his 1996 autobiography, Grammer accused Long of trying to get rid of him:

Shelley was convinced that Diane and Sam should be together, that it was a terrible mistake to break them up…Shelly’s efforts to get me off the show were relentless. I learned after read-throughs she would insist the writers took out every laugh I had.

Grammer’s allegations have been denied by Long as well as the show’s writers and producers.  They appear to have stemmed from a conversation about how to handle Long’s real-life pregnancy on the show:

In the third year, right before we started the season, I told them I was pregnant. And they were saying, ‘Oh, well, we could do this, and we could do that, and Frasier could be the father.’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t think that’s right. You said Hepburn and Tracy to us when we started, and I think this should be Tracy’s baby.’ I guess Kelsey had been told that, and he was really upset about it. I talked to him on the phone once and I said, ‘You know, this was not about you, the actor; this was about Sam and Diane.’

For the third season in a row, Long was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Cheers.  And for the second year in a row, she lost to Jane Curtin.  The following year, Long received her fourth consecutive Emmy nomination which she lost to Betty White.  The Golden Girls crowded the Outstanding Lead Actress category for the next several years.

Shelley Long – The Money Pit – 1986

In between the fourth and fifth seasons of Cheers, Long found time to star opposite Tom Hanks in the domestic comedy, The Money Pit.  Long and Hanks played a couple who gets more than they bargained for when they but a fixer-upper in a remake of the Cary Grant movie Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

Despite mixed to negative reviews (Roger Ebert called The Money Pit “a movie that contains one funny scene and 91 minutes of running time to kill.”) the movie performed well at the box office.  According to Hanks, who wasn’t a fan of the movie, “it made a ton of money, and then it stopped.”

The movie was originally scheduled for the busy Christmas season, but Universal pushed it back into a less competitive slot in early March.  This allowed The Money Pit some breathing room it might not have had if had been released during the holidays as planned.

Going into the fifth season of Cheers, it was uncertain whether or not Long would renew her contract with the show.  The actress found herself isolated from the rest of the cast:

I’d gotten into a routine of going into my dressing room and meditating at lunch. I needed to rest, just let go of all of it. Because I really felt sometimes like I was physically pulling the plot, and it was heavy. I’m sure it didn’t look great that I was going into my dressing room at lunch. I wish I could’ve hung out with the cast and got lunch. But it’s not restful for me to be in a public dining room and eat. It’s just not. And I was exhausted by the end of the morning because I tried to deliver as much of a performance as I could for each run-through.

Assistant director Thomas Lofaro said that Long “believed she was the new Lucille Ball” and that she would “spend hours after the run-through talking with the writers about her character and the story, just talking it to death. They would indulge her, but they indulged her to a point where they couldn’t stand it anymore.”

Glenn Charles clarified that Long never through tantrums on the set, but that she “liked to discuss things”.  After a read-through, the rest of the cast was ready to move on to blocking, but they had to indulge Long’s discussions.  The actress defended her approach, “There was scuttlebutt about me talking too much and being passionate about Diane. But I thought, ‘That’s my job. That’s what I’m supposed to do…. Don’t tell me not to get involved in the discussion.'”

In December of 1986, Long announced her decision to leave the show.

The Cheers writers were the finest in television. But I felt like I was repeating myself; it bothered me a little bit. And I was getting movie offers, which made people think, ‘Oh, she’s so snooty. She thinks she’s going to do movies.’

But most people tended to understand, because I had a two-year-old baby, and I wanted to spend more time with my family, which was the other reason I left the show. And I did spend more time with my family. It was a good decision. It was really good.

Danson had already committed to another season of Cheers.  Everyone who stayed with the show was worried that it could not go on with one half of “Sam and Diane”.  Writer Ken Levine observed, “It’s funny, there were actors who said that she drove them nuts, yet they were also mad that she was leaving. It’s like the restaurant where the food is so bad and the portions are so small.”

Two endings were filmed for the season five finale of Cheers.  The one the live audience saw ended with Sam and Diane getting married.  This was done partially to maintain the surprise, but also on the off chance that Long might change her mind and come back for another season.  After the audience left, they shot the actual ending which ultimately aired in which Diane leaves.

According to Les Charles, Long’s decision probably upset a lot of viewers who may have confused the actress with the character she played.  “Diane was not a lovable character, and I think people transposed that onto Shelley and blamed her for breaking up a show they really loved.”

Shelley Long – Outrageous Fortune – 1987

Outrageous Fortune was released midway through the fifth season of Cheers.  If Long had any lingering doubts about her decision to leave the show, the success of her latest feature probably allayed them.  Long costarred opposite Bette Midler in the female equivalent of an 80’s buddy action-comedy.  Both women played actresses who take an instant dislike to one another when they meet in an acting class.  Further complicating matters, they discover that they are both dating the same man (Peter Coyote).  After his apparent death, they team up to solve a mystery and get caught up in international intrigue.

Long and Midler were relatively evenly matched in terms of star power at the time.  Both had been promised top billing on the picture by Disney.  Neither actress would give up the top spot to the other, so they split billing with Long’s name coming first in the West and Midler’s name in the East.  The testy relationship the characters shared on-screen appears to have spilled over into real life.  When asked what it was like working with Long, Middler said it was “pretty rough”.

Critics were largely dismissive of the movie’s generic action-comedy premise which cobbles together bits and pieces of better movies.  Some felt that Long and Middler’s performances were enough to make  Outrageous Fortune worth watching.  Overall, reviews were mixed to negative.  But the movie was a hit with audiences.  It opened in second place at the box office behind Platoon and ranked in the top twenty highes-grossing movies of the year.

Shelley Long – Hello Again – 1987

Later that year, after Long had departed Cheers, she starred in another comedy for Disney.  But Hello Again didn’t enjoy the same level of success as Outrageous Fortune.  Long starred as a housewife who chokes to death on a chicken ball but is brought back to life by her wacky spell-casting sister (Judith Ivey) one year after her death.  She returns to find out that her husband, played by Corbin Bernsen, has taken up with her scheming college friend (Sela Ward).  Gabriel Byrne played the doctor who failed to save Long, but ends up falling for her after she comes back to life.

Critics panned Hello Again calling it a lifeless comedy.  Despite a decent opening weekend (it took second place behind Fatal Attraction), Hello Again ended up grossing less than half of what Outrageous Fortune earned.  After its first couple of weeks, negative word of mouth spread and the movie just died.

Despite the disappointing box office, there was reason for Long to be optimistic about the future of her movie career.  She had signed a contract with Disney that provided her production company with resources to develop future projects.  At the time, Long told the LA Times, “They haven`t always said yes, but we’ve agreed on a couple of things and are pursuing them.  We don`t always win, but we have a chance to say how we feel and how we see it and offer something constructive into the process, which is good.”

Shelley Long – Troop Beverly Hills – 1989

Unfortunately for Long, her Disney deal didn’t go anywhere.  It took two years for Long’s next movie and it was released by a different studio.  In Troop Beverly Hills, Long played a socialite who is facing a divorce from her husband played by Craig T. Nelson.  In order to prove that she can follow through on her commitments, Long’s character takes over her daughter’s girl scout troop.  As den mother of the Wilderness Girls, she takes her troop camping at a Beverly Hills Hotel.

Reviews were uniformly negative and the movie bombed at the box office.  It opened in seventh place and grossed less than half of its production costs.  But against all odds, the movie has found an audience on video.

Shelley Long and Steve Guttenberg – Don’t Tell Her It’s Me – 1990

The following year, Long returned to the big screen for the romantic comedy, Don’t Tell Her It’s Me.  Steve Guttenberg starred as a formerly over-weight cartoonist who has recently recovered from cancer.  Long played his sister who helps set him up with an attractive reporter played by Jami Gertz.  In order to help him get the girl, Long gives Guttenberg a new identity as a leather-clad, mulleted biker named Lobo Marunga.

The movie was based on Sarah Bird’s novel, The Boyfriend School.  Bird adapted her own book for the big screen, but she wasn’t impressed with her screenplay or the movie.  Years later, she confessed “My exceedingly mediocre screenplay was made into an exceedingly mediocre movie.”

Don’t Tell Her It’s Me received a limited release in theaters topping out at 177 screens.  It grossed just over a million dollars.  For all intents and purposes, this was the final nail in the coffin of Long’s movie career with one notable exception.  Meanwhile, Cheers was still on the air and going strong.

Later that year, Long returned to television in a dramatic role.  On the mini-series, Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase, Long played a woman diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.  Voices was produced by Long’s company, ItzBinso Long.  More TV movies followed.  Long starred in Fatal Memories and  A Message from Holly in 1992.

Also that year, Long reunited with her Hello Again costar, Corbin Bernsen, for the comedy, Frozen Assets.  This movie played in just enough theaters to qualify as Gene Siskel’s pick for the worst movie of 1992.  Here’s a clip of Ebert and Siskel trying to adequately convey the movie’s awfulness:

In his zero-star review for Frozen Assets, Ebert wrote:

I didn’t feel like a viewer during Frozen Assets. I felt like an eyewitness at a disaster. If I were more of a hero, I would spend the next couple of weeks breaking into theaters where this movie is being shown, and lead the audience to safety. And if I’d been an actor in the film, I would wonder why all of the characters in Frozen Assets seem dumber than the average roadkill…

Movies like Frozen Assets are small miracles. You look at them and wonder how, at any stage of the production, anyone could have thought there was a watchable movie here. Did the director find it funny? Did the actors know they were doomed? Here is a movie to watch in appalled silence. To call it one of the year’s worst would be a kindness.

Shelley Long – Good Advice – 1993-94

In 1993, Long returned to television full-time.  Good Advice was a sitcom that aired on CBS for two seasons.  It was produced by Long’s company and starred the actress as a successful author and marriage therapist.  In the pilot episode, Long returns from a book tour to find that her husband is sleeping with another man and she now shares an office with a divorce attorney played by Treat Williams.  Teri Garr costarred as Long’s supportive sister.

Good Advice was originally intended to be part of the Fall 1992 season, but CBS had too many successful sitcoms on its schedule.  Long’s show got bumped to mid-season in favor of the Golden Girls spin-off show, Golden Palace.  While talking about the delay, Long addressed rumors of a feud with Cheers star, Ted Danson:

Ted and I didn’t fight.  Maybe we should have. He got angry once – and it was pretty late in the game – about something that I wish he had told me about long before.  Because I made every effort to change it, and I think I did a pretty good job – although maybe it wasn’t good enough for him.

He said that I wasn’t ready in time for the show to start.  The problem was that we would finish rehearsal at 5 or 5:30, then, being a girl, it took me a little longer to get dressed. You know, I wasn’t wearing easy clothes. I was wearing frilly, take-some-time clothes.  That was my job: to be the girl, a frilly, take-some-time kind of girl. But I went as fast as humanly possible. I ate more hair in those five years because I would have my dinner as my hair was being done. I did that after Ted made the suggestion.

Long finally returned to Cheers for the series finale in 1993.  Much to Long’s disappointment, Sam and Diane didn’t get a happy ending:

I was disappointed that Sam and Diane didn’t get together in the very last episode. I had no input whatsoever. I expressed my opinion, but just in passing. It didn’t change.

According to Les Charles, they never seriously considered having Sam wind up with Diane in the finale:

I’m not sure if that big of a portion of our audience would have been happy with it, because there were people who loved Shelley, but a lot of people liked Rebecca better, or thought Diane was bad for Sam, and so on.

Long was nominated for another Emmy for her guest spot on the Cheers finale.  Additionally, her own show, Good Advice, was performing well enough in the ratings to get picked up for a second season.  Unfortunately, Long’s good luck ran out when it came time to start production on the show’s second season.  Long was unable to show up for work because she had fallen ill with the flu.  When production was halted, CBS pulled Good Advice from their schedule indefinitely.  The second season aired in the summer of 1994 and the show was quietly cancelled.

Shelley Long – The Brady Bunch Movie – 1995

In 1995, Long starred opposite Gary Cole in The Brady Bunch Movie.  She donned a wig and delivered a spot-on Florence Henderson impersonation while portraying “lovely lady” Carol Brady in the satire of the beloved sitcom.  The movie was an extremely affectionate send-up of the family friendly TV show.  Audiences were hungry enough for Brady nostalgia to make the movie a modest hit despite mixed reviews.

Paramount was pleased with the results and doubled down on A Very Brady Sequel the following year.  But it turns out, there wasn’t a demand for another helping of the big screen Brady Bunch.  The sequel grossed less than half of what the first movie pulled in.  In 2002, Long and Cole reprised their roles for a made-for-TV sequel, The Brady Bunch in the White House.

Shelley Long – Frasier – 1996

Most of Long’s time was spent on television.  After the cancellation of Good Advice, she began making guest appearances on TV shows like Lois & ClarkMurphy Brown and Boston Common.  Long returned to the role of Diane Chambers for several episodes of Frasier.  The first, in 1994, was a very brief cameo.  The second time in 1996, Long was nominated for an Emmy for the episode “The Show Where Diane Comes Back.”  Finally, in 2001, Long returned for a scene in which Frasier examines his history of troubled romantic relationships.

When she wasn’t doing guest spots, Long was starring in TV movies like a remake of Freaky Friday (1995) costarring Gaby Hoffmann and the Disney Channel movie Suzie Q (1996).

In 1996, Long starred in her own self-produced sit-com, Kelly Kelly, on the WB.  Long played a literature professor whose first name was Kelly.  She married a fire chief (Robert Hays) whose last name was Kelly so she became Kelly Kelly.  Critics complained that the show was bland and it was quickly cancelled.

Shelley Long – Dr. T & the Women – 2000

Four years later, Long appeared Robert Altman’s romantic comedy, Dr. T. & the Women.  Richard Gere starred as the titular gynecologist who is struggling to deal with the women in his life.  His wife, played by Farrah Fawcett, is committed to a mental hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown.  Kate Hudson portrayed his eldest daughter who is getting married despite her romantic relationship with her maid of honor played by Liv Tyler.  Long appears as Gere’s secretary who has unrequited feelings for her boss.  Tara Reid plays Gere’s youngest daughter, Laura Dern is his sister-in-law and Helen Hunt is his golf instructor.  Long’s was just one of many characters who orbited Gere.  It was a small part in what would be Long’s last appearance in a mainstream Hollywood movie.

In 2004, Long’s second marriage to securities broker Bruce Tyson ended in divorce.  Facing an uncertain future which included possibly losing her home, Long overdosed on painkillers which was seen by many as an attempted suicide.  The incident resulted in an extended hospital stay.

Shelley Long – Modern Family – 2009-2017

Since her divorce, Long has worked steadily.  She alternates from TV movies to guest spots to indies.  In recent years, Long has had a recurring role on Modern Family as Ed O’Neill’s infuriating ex-wife, DeDe.  She can also be seen in TV movies like The Dog Who Saved the Holidays, Merry In-Laws (in which she plays Mrs. Claus), Holiday Road Trip and the upcoming Christmas in the Heartland.  Long appears in a lot of Christmas movies.

So, what the hell happened?

Conventional wisdom is that Shelley Long’s career collapsed because she left Cheers for movies.  I am not going to argue against that point of view.  Obviously, Long’s movie career didn’t take off the way she hoped it would.  Her biggest hit movie, Outrageous Fortune, was released while she was still on the show.  Long was banking on a deal with Disney that never yielded any fruit.

Additionally, Long’s fans saw her as Diane and they weren’t especially eager to see her branch out into other roles.  Many probably harbored a grudge against Long for leaving the show.  Over the years, I have heard a lot of people take delight in Long’s perceived failure post-Cheers.  There’s a mentality that Long was a little full of herself and got what she deserved for jumping ship on a hit show.

That argument is not without merit.  But I think you have to remember that Long spent five seasons on Cheers before she left.  Early on, she was the show’s anchor.  But after five years of watching Sam and Diane’s on-again-off-again relationship, things were beginning to get a little stale.  Cheers actually became more successful after Long’s departure.  I don’t think that reflects negatively on Long so much as the fact that the show needed to move in a new direction.  If Long had renewed her contract, I don’t think Cheers would have lasted nearly as long as it did.  Arguably, Long wouldn’t have been much better off if she had stuck around.

But I don’t want to let Long off the hook too easily.  For all of her perfectionism, most of her movies were pretty lousy.  I’m sure she wasn’t receiving the best scripts, but Long had her own production company.  Had she developed the right project, she could have set herself up for success.  Or at least aimed higher than Troop Beverly Hills.

Also, let’s not discount that Long was considered hard to work with.  You will find lots of people who will defend Long’s methods saying that they were motivated by a desire to get things right.  It does seem like Long was motivated by a desire to do her best work which is commendable.  But it’s equally clear that a lot of people found her maddening to work with.  One possible explanation for why Long’s deal with Disney wasn’t more successful is that the Mouse House decided she was a difficult partner.

Although movie stardom eluded Shelley Long, she was instrumental in the success of one of the most enduring sitcoms in television history.  No matter what happened after Cheers, you can’t take that away from her.  And I think you have to give Long some credit for sticking it out through some tough times.  We may not always have been watching, but she never stopped working.

What The Hell Happened Directory



Posted on September 15, 2017, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. Nailed it perfectly. On one hand, Long is the textbook example of actor walking away form successful TV show and ends up pursuing unsuccessful movie career (the other one is of course David Caruso). On the other hand, if she had stuck around and the Sam/Diane thing continued after it started getting run into the ground, it’s likely that Cheers wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did or if it had, maintained the level of quality it did.

    It’s common for many successful sitcoms to stay on past their expiration date. Even many of the classic ones. All In The Family was a groundbreaking one. But once the Jeffersons and Stivics were gone, the show lost its mojo. Other ones that come to mind include Night Court, Happy Days, The Office, Two And A Half Men, That 70s Show, Will And Grace, Frasier etc etc etc. The aforementioned Cheers is an example of one that knew when it was time to pull the plug, along with Seinfeld, The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air and several others.

    When reflecting on sitcoms that stayed on past their expiration date, would be remiss not to mention the king of them: The Simpsons. AS most people know, there was a time when that was the greatest thing on TV. hat time started around 1992 and ended not long before the 90s ended. After that, the show started on its gradual descent into mediocrity. I stopped watching on a regular basis about 10 years ago and when I do tune in from time to time, it’s usually a reminder of how the mighty hath fallen. I’ve heard it rumored that Groening and Brooks priginally intended to see if they could go for ten seasons and then do a movie as a send-off. That would’ve been an excellent idea if it were true. But that plan was doubtlessly ditched when Fox began waving stacks of money around. If they had pulled the plug after the movie in 2007, that still would’ve been good. Today, it’s basically the TV equivalent of a Rolling Stones album: it will sell because of brand loyalty. But the glory era is way in the past.

    Re: The Money Pit. In some ways, it’s interesting that the two leads in that are the opposite in terms of success. One was able to transition from TV into movies and the other was less so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been watching “Night Court” the last month +; I was too young to understand it at the time, but I kind of got it (like “Miami Vice” was too, i suppose). But now, I just LOVE watching “Night Court”; wow, so many characters there (Dan acts like a cad, but there’s a heart there) and the Christine Sullivan character? So noble, so earnest, and funny by just being noble and earnest (go Markie Post, who was great on game shows, and always hip with haircuts).. Wow, I liked it as a kid, now I just see it as amazing.
      “The Money Pit” is what I’m going for; sometimes, all you want out of life is foreclosure.


    • They Threw It Away – Self-Destruction and Acting Careers

      Shelley Long. Leaving “Cheers” thinking she would have a big movie career was a terrible decision. If she had been smart, she would have made movies in between seasons and held on to those big “Cheers” paychecks.


      reply 15 01/06/2014


      • So why did Shelley Long leave Cheers?

        Everyone was mean to Shelly because she was more professional and they were a cast that enjoyed pranks and shenanigans.


        reply 1 12/05/2015

        I was always under the impression she bailed because one of her handlers thought – or SHE thought – that she had a huge future ahead of her on The Big Screen.

        —Ain’t Life Perverse?

        reply 9 12/05/2015

        Diane went off to write a book, I think. And promised to be “back in six months.” Sam Malone’s last words to her as she walked up the outside stairs was “Have a good life.” And that was that. The character did come back in, what, the last season, I think, for one episode when Sam and Diane “almost” got married. Until they both realized that too much time had passed and that they were not compatible.


        reply 13 12/05/2015

        She thought she’s have bigger and better things in movies. She also had alienated most of the other cast members, who were happy to see her go. Her story line had played itself out anyway. The new storyline took awhile to establish itself, but show is one of the few successful series to be retooled and not become an artistic or popular failure.


        reply 14 12/05/2015

        That was the series finale, [R13]. And I remember thinking when I watched that episode that she had lost her comedic touch. She was all nervous energy but not funny like she used to be.


        reply 15 12/05/2015

        She got bored with it and sick of the big bores she worked with. She had a movie career that 99.99 percent of actresses would kill for.

        Troop Beverly Hills, The Money Pit, The Brady Bunch, Outrageous Fortune, Hello Again, Irreconcilable Differences, plus a whole lot of TV work. Then her career just followed the natural trajectory of just about every other actor. To say she had no career after leaving is a big mistake.


        reply 17 12/05/2015

        I continued to like Cheers after she left but it became a different show. It just became a regular, run of the mill sitcom. Very funny but just a formulaic sitcom. Everyone involved has since had the decency to admit that the show would have never been what it was without Shelley.


        reply 20 12/05/2015

        I hated the Sam/Diane romance. Two more incompatible people never existed, but they were “in love”, so that didn’t matter. I remember the show where they broke up (they were arguing over a painting of Diane, of all things) and Diane barks at Sam that if she walks out the door “you will never see me again!” She does. He finally looks at the painting that was the focus of their quarrel and seeing it, simply says “wow.” It would have made a great ending to the series. But no, it continued and Sam and Diane are so distraught over losing each other that he starts drinking again and she enters a mental institution. Really, their relationship was one of the most awful ever in sitcom history. John Cleese did a memorable guest appearance as a marriage expert and he told the by then engaged couple that “not only should you two not get married, you should probably never see each other again!” He was right.

        As for Shelley Long, I heard she was a pill. She left the show probably because she thought she was meant for better things. She has a few movies that did well, but her film career was short-lived.


        reply 29 12/05/2015

        I liked the show more with Diane, it was more intelligent and the tension between she and Sam was electric. That said, the show probably got more seasons by her leaving.


        reply 31 12/05/2015

        I find it odd that she’s never come back to Modern Family as Al Bundy’s first wife. They mention her character occasionally. Perhaps it was because her acting style was much more heightened than everybody else and she didn’t quite fit.


        reply 32 12/05/2015

        I guess Diane was kind of an imposter and fit in better in LA but also in lots of provincial places. She could have been a Stepford wife or maybe a socialite or just a regular mom, Boston was too immaterialistic for her, she was kinda shallow, superficial, average, empty and not that urban, maybe needing flabbergast though. Of course university towns are also meant to be left after the degree or studies; she was maybe a bit like GWB in Yale and Harvard and many other rich and/or elite kids in Ivies, not really belonging there, regarding academics and intelligence.


        reply 36 12/05/2015

        There was an episode towards the end of her run where they somehow had Diane get her head stuck in the bar floor from the basement. Half the episode consists of the others interacting with her as her head is sticking up through the floor. After watching it, I felt the episode was written specifically to humiliate Long, and I resented that the writers made myself and the rest of the audience complicit in that humiliation just by watching. When Long left I watched some of the Rebecca episodes but the damage was done.


        reply 37 12/06/2015

        She was very much disliked by the rest of the cast, although in a way the tension that created was probably an ingredient in why the show worked, because everyone else at the bar (except the good-hearted Coach and then Woody) disliked Diane for the most part.

        I can remember a prime-time “Cheers” special toward the end of the series run where some NBC journalist (I forget who, Brokaw maybe?) interviewed the entire cast (including Long and Alley) on stage in front of a live audience. And it was awkward because no one on stage other than Danson and to a lesser degree Alley really acknowledged Long at all. It was clear the bad feelings still prevailed. I remember as the show’s credits rolled, they showed the cast interacting with each other on the stage, and Danson was the only one who was mingling with Long.

        I agree with others who said the show was better with Long, although it was always good. I think my favorite all-time episode is from her last season, when Frasier and Lilith – who had just gotten together – have Sam and Diane over for dinner. Frasier and Lilith did a duet of “Our House” at the piano, then everyone gets into a big four-way fight.


        reply 41 12/06/2015

        Rhea Perlman DESPISED Shelley Long. Would not speak to her unless in front of the cameras when they were doing scenes.


        reply 42 12/06/2015

        I loved Shelley on Cheers. It was one of the all-time great comedy performances. The Sam-Diane dynamic is what made Cheers such a good show. I hate that her costars were Mean Drunk Girls to her.


        reply 43 12/06/2015

        I loved the story when Sam was dating Cpt. Janeway. They had the press conference and Diane stood up to ask a question and they demanded her press credentials and she shouts with all the pride in the world(I’ve forgotten the exact name) “I’m from the Stop & Shop Weekly Coupon Cutter” then the whole thing devolves into a face making squirtgun fight.


        reply 44 12/06/2015

        I don’t know any backstory on Shelley Long…but I do know that she comes across as incredibly high maintenance.


        reply 45 12/06/2015

        One thing that irked the cast is whenever Shelley would have a costume change, she insisted on a complete change of make-up and hair – from scratch.

        So instead of a quick change and getting back on the set, cast would have to wait for an hour so Shelley could get remade up again.

        This became such an issue that writers started to write stories that would not require Shelley to have any costume change.


        reply 47 12/06/2015

        If I had to choose I would be on Shelley’s side. I don’t think there’s a single person who has a good thing to say about working with Bette.


        reply 56 12/06/2015

        I remember she teamed up with Woody Harrelson to do a Comic Relief bit In the late 80s- this was right after she left Cheers. Years later, she guest-starred with John Ratzenberger (Cliff) on that John Ritter sitcom, 8 Simple Rules. So maybe the whole thing’s been blown out of proportion. It seems like she mostly had problems with Rhea and Kelsey (though they apparently made up when she guest-starred on Frasier).


        reply 57 12/06/2015

        Great comedienne but should have stayed away from attempting drama (When Rabbit Howls) or, um, musical theater.


        reply 58 12/06/2015

        Shelley should have never left Cheers (obviously), not just because it’s stupid to leave a hit show, but also because she’s a very one-note actress. In all of her movies, she basically played the same quirky blonde character and always had the same voice and demeanor. That s*** may be cute in your 20’s and 30’s, but when you’re pushing 40 (which she was at that time), there aren’t going to be many roles of that kind coming your way.

        Last time I saw Shelley on TV was when I was flipping through the channels and saw her in some awful Hallmark Channel Christmas movie a few years ago with some other has-beens.


        reply 62 12/06/2015

        I don’t care what anyone says – I love The Money Pit, Hello Again, Outrageous Fortune, and Troop Beverly Hills. And she was very good in Dr. T and the Women. She is a great comedienne when given the right script.


        reply 64 12/06/2015

        There was an oral history of CHEERS a few ago by most of the cast and creators, and Ted Danson graciously said the show wouldn’t have been what it was without Shelley Long. Rhea Perlman said that she didn’t want to talk about her, which just made her look petty and bitter.

        The Thanksgiving episode late in Long’s tenure there is hilarious, an all-time TV favorite of mine.


        reply 69 12/07/2015

        She left the series because she wanted a film career. That’s why she left. It’s really that simple.


        reply 70 12/10/2015

        I thought the Shelly Long years were the best, but her leaving probably greatly extended the life of the show. The Sam and Diane relationship had run its course by the time she left. They really did not work as a happy couple, and you can only break-up and make-up so many times. The show got to go in other directions once she left and had some funny episodes for the next two or three years — unfortunately the show wen on about six more years. It was pretty bad the last couple of years.

        Carla could be funny the first few years, but just got meaner as the show progressed (one of the things I did not care for the last few years of the show was how mean it had gotten. None of the characters really liked each other by the end). Also when Diane left Carla lost her true foil. She and Diane kind of balanced each other and Diane would call her out in a way I am not sure Rebecca ever did.

        Someone mentioned the bowling episode — I still remember the exchange – “You don’t sweat in bowling.” “You do in tweed.”

        I did like the Captain Janeway arc and how Diane’s squirt gun matched her outfit.

        Their first break-up involving the painting (by Christoper Llyod?) was pretty intense


        reply 73 12/10/2015

        Shelley Long fulfilled her five year contract on Cheers, which is both professional and enough time on sitcom for anyone with any creative ambitions. She’s gets a really unfair bad rap for leaving. She did her f***ing time and won Emmys for her work.

        And she also had a good run in comedic films – Irreconcilable Differences, The Money Pit, Outrageous Fortune, Troop Beverly Hills, The Brady Bunch films…

        I think we only hear the c***y side of the story – Rhea Pearlman probably resented Shelley because Rhea looks like a troll – and Shelley was a pretty, Waspy blond.


        reply 75 12/10/2015

        [R75] I agree. Shelley gets a bad rap. It’s not like she was David Caruso leaving NYPD Blue after one season. She fulfilled her contract. And I love all of her ’80s films and still do.


        reply 76 12/10/2015

        I heard that Shelley Long wanted a BIG raise in salary when her contract had expired and the producers wouldn’t do it and let her walk.


        reply 77 12/10/2015

        I don’t think the Alley years of Cheers were bad; they had their moments. But the Long era was better, with more emotional depth. Like most sitcoms, the longer it aired, the broader a comedy it became.


        reply 78 12/10/2015

        I remember laughing when George Clooney left ER for movies. “He’s a TV guy. He doesn’t realize his limitations. He’s a male Shelley Long.”


        reply 79 12/10/2015

        Irreconcilable Differences is one of my favorite movies.


        reply 80 12/10/2015

        I’m telling you, she has FEW friends at PARAMOUNT and is in effect black balled. Believe what you want.


        reply 81 12/10/2015

        Just the opposite. The producers offered her unheard of money for a female lead in a sitcom. She just wanted out. She left probably 90% for a movie career and the other 10% because she just couldn’t take another day with the cast. I’m sure it was mutual. Hell I’ve been working at my job for the past three years out of college and I already hate everyone I work with.


        reply 87 12/11/2015

        I really loved her playing Carol Brady…just about perfect.


        reply 89 12/11/2015

        Victoria Principal left Dallas in that spring of 1987 too. Along with Shelley leaving Cheers and Dallas were never the same.


        reply 91 12/13/2015

        Shelley did actually get along with George Wendt, at least at first, based on shared experiences at Second City. Shelley was also close with Nick Colasanto. She used to say that Coach was the only real friend Diane had at the bar and you could tell she really meant Shelley and Nick.


        reply 93 12/18/2015

        The bowling episode is one of the best episodes. My favorite line is Diane talking to Gary, the owner of the rival bar. When he says he graduated Magna cum Laude from Princeton, expecting her to be impressed, she responds, “Couldn’t make summa?”

        The scene where Diane is hiding out in a convent and Ted visits her is touching when she talks to him about the Coach who had just died. Her reflection on the Coach’s views of heaven (“I hope they don’t have any stairs” is “Wise in its way.”

        Kirstie Alley was different and she had her moments but the series went on way too long.


        reply 94 12/18/2015

        One of the reasons she left was to spend more time with her daughter, Juliana, who was two at the time. They are now estranged and Shelley wasn’t even invited to her wedding earlier this year.


        reply 96 08/19/2016

        That’s oversimplifying. There were several factors. One, she’d only signed up for 5 seasons. After that, she opted to get out. Two, she was a professional, who just wanted to go in, do her job, and go home.; the others preferred to goof off and hold up production. For this reason, they resented Long; they thought her a killjoy. Three, after the hits movies NIGHT SHIFT, IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES, and THE MONEY PIT, she wanted to branch out in film, which is more lucrative.


        reply 100 08/19/2016

        That’s got to be ancient history by now. I think the reason she isn’t working more these days is because she aged quite badly, sad to say.


        reply 103 08/19/2016

        I find the Shelly Long years completely unwatchable and the are-they-going-to-f*** tension to be completely cliche. Kirstie Alley’s character of the good-looking f***-up was much fresher and made the show engaging in a way that it never was before.

        I just could not care if the ugly bar owner and the stuck up waitress were going to f***. I just could not.


        reply 109 08/20/2016

        I watched Cheers for a while. But it got tiresome fast. Although Sam Malone seemed a likable enough guy, the Diane Chambers character was unbearable. They have a typical stupid sitcom relationship: they hate each other…but they also LOVE each other. I wish the show had ended with the episode where they broke up (something to do with a portrait painted of her by an artist played by Christopher Lloyd) , seemingly for good. I remember Diane threatening “you will never see me again!” I wish Sam had said “Good riddance, you crazy b****! Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!” But no, their need for each other is so great that Diane enters a mental institution and Sam falls off the wagon. They break up, get back together, break up, get back together…so tiresome. I always thought the excruciating Sam/Diane relationship was a precursor to the ghastly relationship of Nate and Brenda on “Six Feet Under.” Brenda is supposedly much smarter than Nate; they can’t stay away from each other even though it’s obvious that their relationship is toxic. They were the dramatic version of Sam and Diane.


        reply 110 08/20/2016

        Well, you are definitely in the minority, [R110]. I loved the Sam and Diane pairing back in the day even though I was in elementary school. I thought Ted Danson and Shelley Long had wonderful chemistry even if they apparently weren’t fond of one another in real life. They are rightly listed among the top romantic pairings in television history.


        reply 111 08/25/2016

        It was not typical at the time. I think Sam & Diane were among the first love/hate couples on TV, if not the first. But now everyone associates that trope with Rachel & Ross or even Leonard & Penny from BIG BANG THEORY.


        reply 112 08/25/2016

        “I loved the Sam and Diane pairing back in the day even though I was in elementary school.’

        No wonder you loved it; you were in elementary school. The Sam and Diane co-dependent horror story of a relationship appealed to certain people; kids and teen girls and middle-aged women.

        I liked the episode where John Cleese was the guest star. He played an eminent marriage counselor who agreed to have a session with Sam and Diane. After asking them a few simple questions he tells them bluntly “not only should you two not get married, you should probably never see each other again!” Of course he was right.


        reply 114 08/25/2016

        The story arc between Sam and Diane was tired. The writers appeared to have given up on Diane by season 5. Watch only season 1 and 2 of Cheers; she CARRIED that show. As Ted Danson said, “Shelley Long’s portrayal of Diane Chambers PUT CHEERS ON THE MAP.” Without her, the show would’ve been relegated to the sitcom graveyard.


        reply 115 08/26/2016


      • I was thinking about this today. To put things into some perspective, Ted Danson co-starred in the biggest box office hit of 1987 in “Three Men & a Baby”. Meanwhile, Shelley Long’s “Cheers” replacement, Kirstie Alley had a surprise hit two years later in “Look Who’s Talking” (being the fourth highest world-wide grossing movie of 1989).

        I don’t know for sure if Shelley Long simply over-estimated her star power outside of “Cheers” and no longer had a proverbial safety-net (kind of like how George Clooney still had “ER” despite of the stink of “Batman & Robin” being on him) to fall back on. Shelley Long kind of in the middle ground. She didn’t exactly leave a successful show too early like say David Caruso (the male poster child for somebody who shouldn’t have tried to become a movie star after leaving a hit TV show) and she didn’t overstay her welcome.


    • The Sitcom Explained Part V: 10 Sitcom Characters That Improved the Show

      Cheers — Woody, Frazier, and Rebecca

      Debuting an ensemble of five characters, the sleeper sitcom went through a succession of cast changes, enlarging its cast to eight characters by season 10 in 1991. Following the untimely death of actor Nicolas Colasanto as Coach in 1985, NBC opted to fill his void with Hoosier-based bartender Woody Boyd in Season 4. His naivety placated fans mourning Coach’s loss. The cast expanded the following year when Kelsey Grammer was upgraded to a contract player as neurotic, sophisticated Dr. Frasier Crane. Shelley Long’s exit in 1987 left the show’s fate in the air, leaving Kirstie Alley to seamlessly energize the series, leaving no ratings loss. The series would remain a top-5 player through 1992, becoming the TV landscape’s 1st place show in the 1990-91 season.


  2. Ted Danson pretty much nailed it on that quote about how Shelley was Diane, as the public seemed to agree wholeheartedly. It’s quite telling how her two hits at the B.O. were achieved while she was still actively Diane. It was as if audiences went to see the character, not the actual actress.
    And I do mean two hits, by the way. The Brady Bunch fluke was, as stated in the article, a product of nostalgia, laced with smirking irony in this case. In fact, that was pretty much the peak period for 70’s revivalism. Which in itself was just the confirmation of a pattern, as nostalgia for a decade’s pop culture usually starts in the second half of the next one and peaks right around the turn for the second half of the next next one.
    Sorry for the half-confusing wording, OK? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Which celebrity is the biggest pain in the a** to work with?

      Apparently Shelley Long was lovely and professional, but excruciatingly difficult to work with. She had to go over every nuance, every line, every meaning of every scene in every script. She not just monopolised the directors time but their time on set longer than it had to be.

      However writer Ken Levine and Ted Danson have said she is a great person just incredibly finicky and focused. Ken Levine, in fact, has made it clear he’d work with Shelley Long any day of the week over someone like Mary Tyler Moore who was just a bitch to everyone all of the time.


      reply 7 11/16/2016

      Shelley Long and the “perfectionist” types are, to me, true artists. There are niches where this is perfectly accepted. A major network sitcom isn’t that place, it seems. Still, as a viewer I’ll always appreciate the artist who goes through every nuance. Why else bother?


      reply 30 11/16/2016

      Shelley Long is an artist? I appreciate the Money Pit and Troop Beverly Hills, but not for their artistic qualities.


      reply 34 11/16/2016


      • Who was on their way to the big time and then got fired from a film set and never got work again…

        Shelley Long wasn’t just a cokehead, she was a stuck-up bitch who alienated the entire cast of “Cheers.” So she may never have thrown tantrums and gotten fired from films because of it, but I can’t blame people for guessing that she might.

        Ted Danson said the cast used to eat lunch together and she would make a big show of staying in the same room sitting by herself in the corner and pointedly eating by herself and ignoring everyone. That’s pretty damn childish.


        reply 91 10/27/2009

        Some people say she screwed Tom Hanks (pre-Rita Wilson) but I don’t know if he’d put up with someone like her. Of course, if it was a one-night stand maybe he figured since he had to put up with her at work (they made that horrible film The Money Pit together) he might as well get something out of it.


        reply 93 10/28/2009

        A friend of mine was Shelley Long’s stand-in on several movies. Long was apparently a HUGE BITCH. Bette Midler loathed her on the set of OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE.


        reply 104 10/28/2009


      • Outrageous Fortune (1987), starring Shelley Long & Bette Midler

        It was well known that they loathed each other. Midler made sure Long looked like the lunatic, because she’s a more conniving, PR-savvy bitch (as everyone in the business knows). Long was both naive and full of herself, and had those “issues” that finally caught up with her when she attempted suicide in 2004 (long after she shitted her career away and destroyed her marriage). But at the time of OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE Long wasn’t the raving twat Midler always has been.


        reply 12 10/13/2012

        Shelley could be difficult, but a lot of it was blown out of proportion.

        Bette has had fights on just about every movie she’s done. She is not well liked in the industry, and it’s a miracle that she still gets movie work. Not much, though. The list of people who won’t work with her is quite big.

        And yes, she fought with Shelley over everything. Not just billing, but the size of the font that was used on the posters, (Bette thought hers should be a bigger size than Shelley’s) and the placement of their characters dangling over the cliff (Bette wanted to be on the left).

        Bette blasted Shelley in interviews promoting the movie, but Shelley never publicly badmouthed Bette.


        reply 13 10/13/2012

        With a few kind words from Ted Danson the tide seems to be turning for Shelley. Bette on the other hand wouldn’t give two cents for…

        I remember reading after the sucess of The First Wives Club no one wanted to do a sequel cause they hated working with The Not So Divine Miss M…


        reply 14 10/13/2012

        The film hasn’t aged well at all.

        How humbling it must have been for Shelley to watch her film career implode within a decade, thanks to choosing inferior films picked more by ego than ability…


        reply 17 10/13/2012

        This was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid. Shelley Long was basically playing Diane Chambers in a female buddy comedy and Bette Midler was her second banana. It’s a total 80s forgotten gem. Thanks for starting this thread!


        reply 33 10/14/2012

        From a Sneed column in a Chicago paper in 1986…

        “How Shelley Long and Bette Midler get along, Part 2, courtesy of a Los Angeles magazine interview with Long:

        Q: Bette Midler was pregnant while filming `Outrageous Fortune.` You just had a baby. Were you able to advise her about her forthcoming arrival?

        A: I was hired to act in the film, not be a counselor.

        Warm. Real warm. . . .”


        reply 44 02/03/2014

        [R50], Long was not liked because she was a c*** but because she was a professional. The rest of the cast loved to pull pranks and ruin takes and delay production, whereas Long was always prompt and just ready to film her scenes. In short, she didn’t mesh well with the cast, which worked wonders with the Diane/Cheers bar dynamics, but the others saw Long as a stick in the mud and Long didn’t enjoy working in that environment. After she left she became a scapegoat because there was no telling how well the show would go on without her. But it survived and in fact did much better in the ratings. Nowadays, Ted Danson admits that Long was not in the wrong and that he and the others were immature and unprofessional.


        reply 52 08/31/2014

        I read that Long would hold up production on CHEERS with endless questions and attempts at discussions.


        reply 53 08/31/2014

        Why did Midler get the Golden GLobe nom for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical? I thought Long was better and funnier.


        reply 54 08/31/2014

        [R54] Hollywood Foreign Press has always loved Bette. And they probably thought Shelley was just doing a variation of Diane on Cheers. I thought they were both equally funny in Outrageous Fortune.


        reply 57 08/31/2014

        The only things Touchstone ever touched under Michael Eisner that still hold up are The Golden Girls, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Sister Act 1 (I’m afraid to rewatch 2), What About Bob Noises Off, and some of the Bette Midler comedies. This was honestly never one of my favorites, but she’s done far, far worse.

        Bette’s judgement at picking movie roles is inconsistent at best. She turned down the chance to be Miss Hannigan in Annie and did Jinxed! instead. Isn’t She Great wasn’t. Drowning Mona was so awful I actually liked her sitcom better than that awful mess. Give her the right script and the right director and she can be great on screen, but that rarely happens and apparently her negative reputation from co-stars has made that difficult.


        reply 59 08/31/2014

        Shelley walked away with the movie. I don’t think there is a single person who has worked with Bette that would work with her again. When Shelley is difficult it’s to make the work better. When Bette is difficult it’s difficult for difficult’s sake. Though not a lot of people are warm besties with Shelley they’d work with her again. Cheers would have been nothing without her.


        reply 60 08/31/2014

        I really liked this film and thought Shelley and Bette were both great in it. It’s funny, ’cause, yes, Bette does better with good material, but one of her worst performances was in that terrible TV movie version of Gypsy where she hammed it up to a nearly nightmarish extent. God knows the material was there, but she failed to deliver. I go back and forth on her. I really like her in these Touchstone comedies and Hocus Pocus, but that’s about it.

        Actually, she was one of the few decent things about that dreadful Stepford Wives remake. She got the Bobbie character perfectly. She was funny in that.


        reply 65 08/31/2014

        [R59] I’m pretty sure Burnett was always for first choice for Miss Hannigan. Warbucks had a few other contenders but from what I’ve read Ray Stark et al always wanted Burnett.

        Long and Midler were/are two different types of “difficult”: Long was difficult because she always took her work very seriously (which isn’t so bad) and herself very seriously (which can rub people the wrong way very quickly), and was insecure and spent too much time in the hair and makeup chair. So she wasn’t making palsy Walsy with the cast and crew on sets and these people talk and talk and talk and word gets around soon enough….

        Midler is “difficult” because she’s just a generally nasty woman. Big difference, IMO.


        reply 68 08/31/2014


    • Sam and Dianne from Cheers?

      I just finished watching Cheers, season one and Ted Danson was interviewed as one of the special features. I got the feeling he didn’t like Shelly Long much because he went on and on about how much he liked the other cast members but only praised Shelly’s professionalism/acting and said she alone was responsible for getting Cheers off the ground because she broke new ground with her character. Does anyone know if they got along off camera?
      —Anonymous (43 views)

      67 replies 05/07/2008

      I worked there. Ted and Shelly liked each other just fine. The rest of the cast, well, they weren’t in love with her, but hate? No way. Irritated at times, sure. But the show was on for eleven years. Everybody was irritated by everybody at some point. It always amazes me how what was basically a pretty amiable set continues to this day to be saddled with this image. Guess it makes better gossip.


      reply 4 05/07/2008

      The cast disliked her. It was a matter of work habits. She was the consummate professional, while the men in the cast were practical jokers. I’d guess that the situation got worse when Nicholas Colasanto died and was replaced by Woody Harrelson. Long left two years later.

      The same problem occurred with Bebe Neuwirth years later, although she didn’t clash with the others the same way Long did. She left in the final season and didn’t return for the finale. Neuwirth probably preferred working on “Frasier,” since she appeared consistently on the show.


      reply 5 05/07/2008

      It’s funny, there was a retrospective a few years back, and director/creator Jim Burrows pretty much said the same thing. He praised Shelley for essentially carrying the show through the first 2 struggling seasons, but that was it. Nothing about her personally.


      reply 8 05/07/2008

      Didn’t Shelley Long have a recent bout with mental illness?


      reply 9 05/07/2008

      Not to give credence to baseless rumors–okay, exactly to give credence to baseless rumors–she always seemed incredibly wound-up in real life, so it would hardly be a surprise.


      reply 10 05/07/2008

      She supposedly held up every taping having to have her hair and makeup redone before every scene.

      Bebe hated Kelsey Grammer


      reply 11 05/07/2008

      Shelley Long is great in “Irreconciliable Differences” with Ryan O’Neal. Also funny in “Troop Beverly Hills”. I love her, worked with her on “Hello AGain” and she’s a delight. A Trixie Delight.


      reply 14 05/07/2008

      She had a suicide attempt a couple of years ago that was written about in the mainstream press.

      “In 2004, after 23 years of marriage, Bruce Tyson filed for divorce. Soon afterward, Long was admitted to a hospital for what was described as a suicide attempt, although she described it as ‘an accidental overdose.’


      reply 15 05/07/2008

      Poor dear, right after that she had a guest appearance on “CSI” or something, but she really doesn’t work that much, does she? Really got a bad wrap from the town. Not. fair.


      reply 16 05/07/2008

      Shelley was very professional in demeanor, but she had waited so long for her success with the show that she let it get to her head. The cast was indeed glad to see her go. I think a lot of the people in the cast were much like their characters on TV: a bunch of boozy clowns who liked to play practical jokes on one another. (Certainly they enhanced that reputation on their infamous appearance on The Tonight Show after the series finale).


      reply 17 05/07/2008

      The show wasn’t the same when Long left. I found Alley to be a horrible replacement. She was all whine with no comedic flair at all. I think her Emmy win was due to her popularity among actors and not her work. As the show aged, her part got smaller and smaller and the show bounced back a little.


      reply 18 05/07/2008

      Alley was great her first couple seasons when she was playing the cool sophisticated businesswoman. But they went overboard later making her an incompetent moron.

      I always read/heard it was Long who hated Grammer and the writers kept bringing him back to piss her off.


      reply 19 05/07/2008

      Agree with [R18].

      The character of Diane made the show- she was so much fun to hate and Long played her to perfection.

      Diane about Sam’s much younger date-“Ask her for her ID. Better yet, ask her to spell ID.”


      reply 20 05/07/2008

      They brought Alley in as a new love interest for Danson. When that obviously did not work out, they just made her another part of the ensemble, which worked much better. But no, the show was never the same without Long.


      reply 25 05/07/2008

      Nicholas Colasanto died of cancer.

      I liked Shelley Long, but agree with whoever described her as tightly wound.

      I liked Kirstie Alley on the show as well though, and thought it she was just as funny, if not more so, when Rebecca became a mess.


      reply 29 05/07/2008

      “Neuwirth probably preferred working on “Frasier,” since she appeared consistently on the show.”

      David Hyde Pierce said the other day on The Today Show the reason Fraser worked, was the entire cast had a theater background. So I bet there was allot more professionalism, and less fooling around.

      I think Shelly and Rhea didn’t get along. I remember reading something in Entertainment Weekly (they were writing a big article ‘behind the scenes’ of the final Cheers episode). At the end when the cast were taking their bows, everyone was hugging everyone. Suddenly Shelly and Rhea were face to face, and they kept their distance and didn’t hug. They just walked away from one another.


      reply 30 05/07/2008

      Seriously check out Shelley’s performance in “Irreconcilable Differences”. It’s a fun film and Drew Barrymore is adorable in it.

      —twink kaplan”s dogwalker

      reply 35 05/07/2008

      I loved the character of Diane. She was such a stereotypical Bostonian pseudo-intellectual.

      The show changed when she left (by the way, bad move there Shelley) because the original creators/producers left as well. The show became more slapstick as time went on, and some of the gravity of the original seasons was gone. (I will say that I did find Woody’s wedding to be very funny.)

      It took me until 1990 when I could watch the show again – which also coincided with the beginning of the 1990-91 season when the bar finally got its old decor back and Rebecca was reduced to the ensemble.


      reply 36 05/07/2008

      I love Shelley Long. She’s lovely and very funny and a good actress. I can see how she could be grating, though.

      Here’s a clip where she is a panelist on Politically Incorrect, ironically giving advice on how Robert Downey, Jr. should deal with his drug problem.

      She’s grandiose about Acting (with a Capital “A”).

      —Anonymous 05/07/2008

      Was she Oscar nommed for “Irreconcilable”? Nowadays, she would be, she’s sympathetic even though she’s a self-absorbed a**hole! Bruce dumped her for a younger girl that’s what hurts.

      —marcia strassman”s hairburner

      reply 46 05/07/2008

      She’s funny as Flo Henderson as Mrs. Brady in “The Brady Bunch Movie” w/RuPaul. She would be good with Larry David!


      reply 47 05/07/2008

      I think Danson and Long had some of the best chemistry ever on television. When they tried to make Alley his new love interest it just didn’t work.


      reply 58 05/08/2008

      Her portrayal of Diane was hilarious. I loved her in Outrageous Fortune, too.

      Many ensemble casts feel negative when a key player leaves to strike it big in the movies – because it puts their job in danger. I think Rhea is the only one who made it clear she didn’t always see eye to eye with Shelley.

      I felt really bad for Shelley when the suicide news hit. She is a talented actress who perhaps made a bad career choice and has sort of been punished for it since.


      reply 62 05/08/2008


    • ‘Cheers’ Reunion: Ted Danson Praises Shelley Long For Show’s Success

      Shelley Long was great on the show. There were two sides of her split with the cast.

      She is a smart person, really, and had great comic talent and was a good dramatic actress. She got the Emmy right out of the gate, got a lot of attention and thought she could go beyond the show. Of course that didn’t sit well with people, especially those who thought she thought she was smarter than everyone else.

      Roger Rees has said quite openly that the rest of the cast got along really well but were often completely crude and often unprofessional. They showed up late, joked around, didn’t run lines, weren’t interested in talking much about characters and such and wanted just to do their thing. He said he heard that as they got past Season 3, Shelley was always apart from that bunch, especially after Colasanto died, as he was very much like Coach on the show in his relationship to Diane, very sweet to Shelley, always making her feel included, happy to be working and professional. Grammer had drug problems early in the show, Perlman and Harrelson were cutups, and so on. Shelley’s character was serious, had a lot of neuroses that had to be explained beyond her animal attraction to Sam Malone — she wanted to do it seriously, to work with the writers (and sometimes would question the writers)… the rest of the cast just wanted to have fun.

      Rees said that he and Neuwirth often would sit and wait for the cast to get it together at every rehearsal — which often never happened as the show wore on — and Shelley had the same problem, but Shelley seemed to take it more personally.

      I’m sure there are two sides of the story.


      reply 25 10/10/2012

      The weird thing about that show’s success was that it had two parts: (1) it had brilliant writing and a few brilliant comic actors (Long, Grammar, Neuwirth, Harrelson, and sometimes Danson and Alley) who could really make their lines sparkle with brilliant delivery; (2) it had some very appealing “ordinary guy” actors (Danson and Alley when they were not at their best, Perlman, Wendt, Ratzenberger, Colosanto) who had lovable personae and could make the audience feel very comfortable. It sort of cut across the lowbrow and highbrow divide (in part because that’s what the show was about).

      I agree Long was the original standout character that showed how good the writing could be; she is an oddly limited actress, however, and her unusual physical type (very skinny with giant doe eyes) made it hard to cast her later–and she got typecast in spoiled or pretentious parts. It’s been sad to see her flail about somewhat professionally because I always felt if she could have avoided being typecast she would have been terrific: she was wonderful; in NIGHT SHIFT, for example, before she played the Diane role, but after playing Diane she never got to play something like a prostitute again.

      Grammar and Harrelson did extremely well for themselves afterwards, as did Neuwirth (albeit in theater) because they have so much genuine talent. Danson coasted pretty much on the love people had for him and for the Sam character: he’s not a terribly talented actor, though he’s also not bad. Ratzenberger has a great voice and has had some success as a voice actor. Perlman and Wendt completely lucked into great characters on the show, but since they have the least talent they’ve not been able to do much afterwards.


      reply 29 10/10/2012

      I thought Diane Chambers was one of the most annoying, unbearable characters ever to appear on a tv sitcom. I never bought the Sam/Diane relationship. Sam was a good-looking, good-natured guy; why would he want to hook up with the stuck up, twitchy, VERY fucked up Diane? I mean there she was, with all her education/intelligence and her condescending attitude and her snotty ways…and she was a BARMAID. Just like the uneducated, blue collar, perpetually pregnant Carla. Why on earth did Sam want to be with the bitch? She wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous or anything; why did he put up with her crazy shit? I know it was a comedy, but even in a comedy show you expect things to make a little bit of sense.


      reply 33 10/10/2012

      [R33], it’s called dramatic license. Suspension of disbelief for comic effect. It would not have been the least bit funny had Sam Malone just had a continued string of big plastic ti**ied, blonde bimbo girlfriends. That is a dull cliche. Diane Chambers rocked his world. Called him out on his shit. Was NOT interested in him, at first. And remember, Sam also RAN A BAR. His playing days were behind him. He likely would have hooked up with the women who were IN the bar or around it. Diane was pretty, she was not a dog. She just was not a “Candy” or a “Nicole” with double D’s and no brains. Also, if you watched the show, Sam was not the total “smooth operator” that he and his bar buddies made him out to be. He was kind of clutzy and dorky, at times, with women. His posturing jock behavior was a screen for his vulnerability, which made him likable. He was arrogant but he was kind of a mess underneath. (This is not unlike the Carrie Heffernon character from The King of Queens. She was a bossy “bitch” but was really goofy and vulnerable beneath the surface.) The sparring between Diane and Sam made perfect sense in context when you understood the characters.


      reply 34 10/10/2012

      [R33]. Shelley Long’s character was supposed to be that way. She played it perfectly.

      But the humor and rationale of Sam and Diane’s relationship was that she was indeed a bit uppity and book-smart, but actually, she was sort of a loser like the rest of the characters. She couldn’t or didn’t succeed in her own profession (whatever that was). And she wasn’t street-smart enough to really make it in the big bad world.

      So the humor came from her “lording” over everyone in a place she really didn’t belong, as well as acting superior because Long’s character was indeed intelligent among a bunch of neanderthals. She could make fun of them–and they could make fun of her. And that’s what sustained the show and her relationship with others in the bar–and with Sam.

      And then there’s always the cat and mouse–and animal attraction Sam and Diane had toward one another that for at least five years made for “must-see,” funny television.


      reply 43 10/10/2012

      By the way, Shelley was fabulous and funny in “Troop Beverly Hills.”

      A guilty pleasure of mine.


      reply 45 10/10/2012

      Diane never really had one. She was an English-lit grad student when the show started and fucking one of her professors, who ended up dumping her to get back together with his ex. Since she couldn’t face the “humiliation” of returning to grad school, she started working at Cheers.

      Btw I’m also not getting all the Diane love. I always thought she was an uptight cunt, frankly (on the show and in real life, as demonstrated by quitting with delusions of film fame in her head).


      reply 50 10/10/2012

      Shelley/Diane was the best. Her relationship with Sam was an opposites attract, addictive ying and yang and very funny.

      Kirstie was very funny too; she was just different; the chemistry was different. Her relationship with Sam was more two of a kind.


      reply 54 10/10/2012

      [R54]- Rebecca would have been a great foil for Sam if they kept her original character (savvy business woman), but they made her into a laughingstock.


      reply 55 10/10/2012

      If Shelley Long was so great in Cheers why did her departure leave such a stink on her? I never watched Cheers but I assume she was playing Diane in Outrageous Fortune which is the only thing besides Modern Family I’ve ever seen her in.


      reply 58 10/11/2012

      It seemed like the press and public were hoping she’d fall on her face after leaving “Cheers.” I don’t know if people conflated Long with the character of Diane or if Long had been coming off unlikable in interviews at the time or if people were just angry she was leaving a favorite show. But there was definitely a lot of schadenfreude when her film career failed to take off.


      reply 59 10/11/2012

      Everyone has seen her in The Brady Bunch movies…

      Life has been hard for Shelley also take in account when women get to be a certain age in Hollywood its over plus so many TV actors have a hard time making it in movies(if that was the real reason she left). Since the show was over no one has any kind words about Shelley maybe Ted has trying to change that…


      reply 60 10/11/2012

      Hollywood is especially hard on female actors who try to crossover from TV to the big screen. Not that guys like David Duchovny or David Caruso had it easier.

      That movie she did with Bette Midler called Outrageous Fortune is a guilty pleasure of mine.


      reply 61 10/11/2012

      I thought the transition from Diane to Rebecca was one of the few times a show successfully managed a major casting change and then managed to improve or at least hold. Rebecca and Diane couldn’t have been more different. Most creative teams would have settled for a lookalike Diane 2.


      reply 63 10/11/2012

      A sitcom is the best schedule for a working mom.

      The hours are basically 9 to 5, with the exception of Friday which is tape night. That is a 12 hour day.

      You also get the last week off of every month. 3 weeks on, 1 week off.

      She only had one child when she was doing Cheers. Plus this was filmed at Paramount, which had a daycare center for moms like her, Rhea Perlman and Meredith Baxter.


      reply 66 10/11/2012

      I’m old enough to remember when Shelley Long quit Cheers and it was a major news story…the show was that big at the time. I know that doesn’t seem like much now, but in those days entertainment news didn’t really get covered in the mainstream media, it had to be a big deal for network news to cover something about Hollywood. Total opposite of today.


      reply 76 10/11/2012

      [R58] Shelley’s departure left a “stink” BECAUSE her character was that important to the show. The reason people tuned in week to week was of course because the show succeeded in ways Taxi had tried in the Happy Days/Three’s Company… It was written for adults, and people who were educated could enjoy the show, get the references, and laugh at themselves.

      Diane-Sam was the love story on TV that people wanted to see resolve. Diane was also the character that was the vehicle for bringing a moral point of view into the bar, as well as all the more elevated humor. That fell to Frasier and Lilith when she left, and as a result it became a secondary part of the show.

      It was a rare show in the 80s and people were sad to wonder how it would go on. The writers and Kirstie Alley did a great job for the first three years to keep it going, but it was very much Cheers II … never the same.

      The good news is we got Frasier out of it, which was even better.


      reply 79 10/12/2012

      Hollywood is also harder on females who have opinions. Shelley’s big crime was wanting to turn out the best product she could. But the results more than vindicated her protracted creative process.


      reply 81 10/12/2012

      She also seems to have taken the creative process seriously. Cheers was not there as a place to get together and party with her friends.

      She was involved in turning out a great product. Party girl idiots like Perlman and Grammer resented her because they knew she was the only reason they had a job.


      reply 82 10/12/2012

      With Perlman and Long, I wonder if it is simply that they were so different (like their characters) that they rubbed each other the wrong way. That tends to build up over five years.

      The very first episodes they did play up Long being younger than Sam, and she was also portrayed being more naive and innocent and optimistic. She was a contrast to the people in the bar. Sam was also not quite as dumb.


      reply 85 10/12/2012

      Interesting that Grammar had some friction with both Long and Bebe. I liked Fraiser, but I always disliked the sweeps arcs where he would find his great love with some multi-episode guest star. They always seemed so forced and false. The only characters/actresses I felt he sparked any romantic chemistry with were Lilith and Diane.


      reply 89 10/12/2012

      [R87] your memory is definitely faulty. Out of eleven seasons, Lilith was featured in nine of them, and [R88] is correct this started early in the second half of season 1. There were gaps in her appearances in her run during Chicago and appearances in Fosse and her own TV show during the later years, but a “Lilith” episode was a constant for that show.

      As for her friction with Grammer, he was a mess and still is. He was a hard-core alcoholic and on cocaine during the run of Cheers, and Shelley and Bebe both were the ones that had to not only work opposite him, and put up with all the production delays and his temper tantrums and nuttiness, but that had to affectionate to him. Considering how much shit both of them take for being bitchy and cold, the fact that they tolerated it and made it work — with chemistry as [R89] says — is credit to their professionalism and their talent as actors.

      Look at how great Bebe and Kelsey were together from the very first episode of Cheers…


      reply 90 10/12/2012

      I recently watched the last few episodes of season five (on the Hallmark Channel), and then I forced myself to watch the first episode after Shelley’s departure, as I’ve never seen it. Cheers became a completely different show without her, and that show really sucked. I can’t believe that went on for six more seasons. The character of Sam Malone lost his charm instantaneously and he became a one-dimensional, dumb and boring character. I suspected it would be, but the new Cheers was just awful.


      reply 99 10/20/2014

      I didn’t like Cheers for a while after Shelly left but I thought the last few seasons were terrific. Once they decided that Kirstie didn’t work as the straight man and made her character a big colossal f***-up, she was great.


      reply 101 10/20/2014

      I watched the show from time to time after Shelley left but I thought Kristie Alley was too annoying. The show lost the chemistry it began with Sam, Diane and Coach.


      reply 102 10/20/2014



      • Shelley Long

        She apparently tried committing suicide in 2004. Maybe she’s not all there? I can’t help but like her though, her characters were always so charismatic. I’ve never heard from anyone who’s met her in person though. Maybe she’s a hermit?


        reply 2 01/27/2013

        Love her as Carol Brady in “The Brady Bunch” movies. She’s really quite good in “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks and has some wonderful moments in “Irreconcilable Differences.”

        Ted Danson recently gave Shelley credit for making “Cheers” so good. It was nice but would have been nicer back in the 80s when so many bad stories were going around about her. I’m sure she can be difficult but she is talented.

        —Team Shelley

        reply 11 01/27/2013

        If you read the recent article on Cheers, than it would appear that Shelley was the most professional out of the entire crew. And seemed to be extremely loathed simply because of that.

        Bette Midler, however, said that Shelley was horrible to work with on the set of Outrageous Fortune.


        reply 12 01/27/2013

        Critical comments about on-set behavior from Bette Midler is sort of like taking sobriety advice from Courtney Love.


        reply 13 01/27/2013

        The only thing I remember hearing was that she was late to set often because she was never satisfied with her hair. I also heard she didn’t like a lot of the playing around some of the actors would get into. She was great on the show no matter what as far as I’m concerned.


        reply 15 01/27/2013

        I can’t help but to feel a little sorry for her. Her ego got in the way and she thought she could do better in movies, and with the exception of the Brady Bunch movies, it was a disaster and her career never recovered. Think about it – if she had stayed on “Cheers”, she would have been made the s***load of money that Ted Danson made in the later seasons.


        reply 16 01/27/2013

        The Shelley episodes of Cheers are so much better than the Kirstie ones. Shelley and Ted really had screen chemistry, and I thought she was insane to leave the show. But if she was unhappy (and if most of the crew was not especially kind to her) then I could see why she would want to leave.


        reply 18 01/27/2013

        She left because she thought she was going to make a lot of movies and became a successful movie star. A lot of these TV actors and actress get do this and their careers collapse. They aren’t very business and career savvy. I agree Shelley episodes are the best on Cheers. i love her character much more than Kirstie Alley’s

        BTW, [R13] nailed!


        reply 20 01/27/2013

        I am not the Shelley Long troll, but she is a fantastic actress. I would not compare Diane Chambers to Rebecca Howe – they were two different characters and both actresses played them beautifully. I don’t understand commenters who basically diss Kirstie Alley in Cheers – her character provides some of the biggest laughs of the latter seasons (that is, once writers realized that a beautiful woman can also be funny and that a f***up, gold digging, dignity – deficient RH presented more comedic possibility than a straight-laced comedic straight-woman).

        But this thread is about sweet Shelley Long. Anybody who can make you like a Diane Chambers is Ok with me. It was so sad to hear of her hospitalization years ago – but the story was shut down and brushed over quickly, so it seems everyone forgot about it. I did.

        I hope Shelley Long knows that her vulnerable portrayals really touched jerks like me. In the 1980s only Meryl Streep (She Devil – don’t judge me!!) and Shelley Long punched through my talented-actor-obliviousness.

        —I may have had a microbrew; still not the SL troll

        reply 23 01/27/2013

        The stories that surfaced around the recent Cheers anniversary painted Shelley in a more favorable light, and didn’t do Rhea Perlman any favors.

        Different people said Shelley could be a challenge, and she always wanted to rehearse, ask “why” and analyze the shit out of things, which could be annoying. But they all said it wasn’t craziness or ego on her part, just wanting shit to be really good.


        reply 24 01/27/2013

        Basically, she’s the Katherine Heigl of the 1980s.


        reply 25 01/27/2013

        I loved her in the now-forgotten, but nevertheless great ’80s movie, Hello Again.


        reply 27 01/27/2013

        Disclaimer: Another Shelley Long fan here. I liked Kirstie on Cheers too, but she’s become tiresome since then.

        As for Shelley, I enjoyed her on Cheers, and agree that her seasons were the strongest. (Although part of that credit also goes to Nick Colasanto as Coach.)

        I know the story goes that she left Cheers to make it in the movies. But based on the recent stories we’ve heard, I wonder if she left because Cheers was kind of a hostile environment for her. It definitely sounds like she had a different approach to acting, and that froze her out with the rest of the cast.

        As far as her movie career, she takes a lot of crap but I thought it was strong. Night Shift, The Money Pit, Outrageous Fortune, Troop Beverly Hills, and the Brady movies were all enjoyable in my opinion. She may have never had a huge hit, but I didn’t think any of those were big flops either.

        —Andy Andy

        reply 28 01/27/2013

        She was funny as Carol Brady in the 90s Brady satire films.


        reply 35 01/27/2013

        I can tell you a few things about early Shelley Long. When I was a growing up, Shelley was always on TV in Chicago. Around ’73-’75 she was a sweet and wholesome long haired willowy babe (think Deborah Raffin) who co-hosted a a weekly local infotainment magazine show called Sorting It Out. Throughout most of the 70s she also did dozens and dozens of cute but dorky commercials for suburban Homemakers Furniture stores.

        She’s also a Second City alum. When I was 14 I happened upon an issue of Crawdaddy magazine (circa 1976) that did a piece on SC. There was a pic of the troupe with Shelley holding two long balloons in front of her tits. Around 1978, I remember being slightly flabbergasted to see Shelley on a 2 part episode of Family as Willie’s older woman girlfriend.

        When Cheers began I thought Diane was such a prim and uptight downer compared to the Shelley I was used to relating to.


        reply 37 01/27/2013

        Why is it so difficult for all of you to understand that a talented and pretty young actress who’s been enormously successful on a TV show would want to spread their wings and take on other projects and play other characters, even at the jeopardy of never repeating their original success? I’m sure she’d felt she played every possible aspect of Diane.

        Actresses only have a short shelf life at stardom and need to move on when they still have youth and looks on their side. And all actors hate to be typed as only ever playing one role, particularly when the role is something of a limited caricature.

        It seems completely logical to me that Shelly made a reasonable decision to leave Cheers even if she knew she would never again match the success of that show. I think it was worth failing just to make the attempt to diversify.

        —I’m not the Shelly troll either

        reply 41 01/28/2013

        Rebecca was a b**** on the show, too. It’s amusing to me that Diane gets a lot of hate and gets called a “c***” and “b****,” but her character was rather kindhearted and always went out of her way to help out those in the fringes, like Cliff and Norm. She always tried to lend a hand when she could, including to those who were always p***** to her, like Carla. The only annoying thing about Diane was that she was a pseudo-intellectual, but even then why is it a crime for someone to aspire to intelligence and higher learning? In this country, wanting those things makes you a snob.

        Rebecca, on the other hand, was a social climbing gold digger, and she was always a b**** to Cliff and Norm, even sweet Woody. And she cried too much in every friggin’ episode, especially in the latter seasons. I hated her character. Kirstie’s cracking voice was also annoying.


        reply 42 01/28/2013

        I agree that the US now has disdain for intelligence.

        But Diane is a spin on a classic type, the “know it all.” It wasn’t so much that she wanted to make herself better, but more that she wanted to take everyone else along on the ride.


        reply 44 01/28/2013

        What made Diane work was that she was truly a perpetual victim in that bar; it was her versus everyone else, and it made her much more sympathetic because she was most assuredly the outsider.

        And yes, Long’s performances in hindsight are a marvel. Diane’s lines are often arch, and in the hands of a lesser actress, the character could have been repellent.


        reply 47 01/28/2013

        She’s good in “Irreconcilable Differences.” Not a bad flick, either.


        reply 48 01/28/2013

        I don’t know why people say that Shelley didn’t have a good post Cheers film career. She had a string of hits that most actresses would kill for. They might not have been blockbusters but they were all pretty respectable.

        My favorite Cheers snippet is when Sam is dating the candidate for city council (Kate Mulgrew) and Diane participates in the press conference. They ask her what her credentials are and she tells them she’s from the weekly coupon cutter. She asks a whole bunch of pointed questions and ends up in a verbal fight with Sam which devolves into a squirt gun fight.


        reply 50 01/28/2013

        Diane Chambers was a wonderfully written, multi-dimensional character.


        reply 51 01/28/2013

        My favorite Diane line comes when she’s putting down Gary of Gary’s Old Town Tavern who says he graduated magna cum laude from Princeton. Her reply, “Couldn’t make summa?”

        The most touching Diane moment comes when she talks with Sam about Coach, who has died. Sam says something like “He hoped there wouldn’t be too many stairs in heaven” and her reply is “Wise, in its way.”


        reply 53 01/28/2013

        I’m sorry, but she was brilliant in Irreconcilable Differences. She was brave and funny as hell and sad, too. I really love that movie. I agree with other posters…it seems that her acting style, and not her ego, drove her off of Cheers. I think she is very talented.


        reply 56 01/28/2013

        The Kate Mulgrew press conference was one of my favorites. She says her credentials are from the weekly shopper because she had to get a job in the market check-out line after she loved Cheers. Nice touch that here squirt gun matched her outfit.

        I definitely prefer the Shelly Long years, but by the time she left, the Sam and Diane story had played out (although I saw her last season recently and it was better than I remembered). Her leaving probably gave the show about three more decent years it might not have had otherwise (sadly it went on for about 5 or six more years…)


        reply 60 01/28/2013

        Once she left Cheers was still funny but it was a completely different show. It was more of a run of the mill sitcom. Still good, and I enjoyed it to the end, but it became just another funny show without her. `


        reply 62 01/28/2013

        I am so glad to see all the Shelley love here. She was brilliant as Diane and no matter how badly she might have been portrayed as being standoffish or a bitch around the Cheers set, there is just something so very likable about her. Not many sitcom stars have much of a career after their one BIG hit. Shelley has done better than many.

        She was also funny as the hooker in Night Shift, if someone hasn’t already mentioned that.


        reply 64 01/28/2013

        Shelley Long left Cheers at just the right time – both for her and for the show. Her storyline was a 5-yr arc. If she had stayed, it would have grown tired and boring. The show got to rejuvenate, and although it wasn’t artistically/creatively as good, it became a bigger and bigger hit. But the first 5 years are pure classic television……I’m certain she’s bipolar, which could explain her mood swings on the set – (she was probably undiagnosed at that time) – and why others felt so uncomfortable around her. And bipolars are usually BRILLIANTLY talented – (Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, etc.).

        —Fan of Shelley

        reply 65 01/28/2013

        I learned something from the GQ article that I hadn’t known. Shelley had “Night Shift” completed before auditioning for “Cheers.” I was sure that NS came after Cheers.

        Based on the strong performance she gave in Night Shift, I am sure she would have had a very nice and long career in films. I agree about Irreconcilable Differences too, it is a very good movie with strong performances by everyone, including Ryan O’Neal and Drew Barrymore. It never shows up on TV

        People are starting to resent Rhea Perlman’s replies to questions about Shelley during their time on Cheers, but I don’t think Rhea is dissing Shelley by refusing to go back and discuss her feelings about it. If it was an unpleasant time for Rhea, why rehash it?


        reply 66 01/28/2013

        I didn’t watch the show during its initial run, and have only seen bits of a handful of eps in syndication, none of which made an impression on me; therefore, my knowledge about her and CHEERS is limited. I do remember that when she left the show, and in the years following, she was often compared to David Caruso, and people (the general public, critics, the rags, etc) trashed the heck out of her and ridiculed her for her less-than-stellar career post CHEERS.

        However, between Danson’s recent shout out to Long, the oral history, and threads like this, it seems that Long is getting something of a vindication. It’s quite curious to witness.


        reply 67 01/28/2013

        I remember many years ago an interview with Ted Danson where he said that Shelley was a perfectionist and she would question and analyze and request changes. But Ted said Shelley was always right and always made the scene play better, so he went with it. However, others on the set had a “good enough” mentality. Watching the seasons after Shelley left, that’s exactly what the show became–good enough. It was still funny but it was not longer the brilliant show it was when she starred in it. It increased in ratings after Shelley left partly because there were not many quality shows on anymore, and the show was still good, just not great.


        reply 69 01/28/2013

        You are probably right. A few years ago it came out that she was addicted/or was abusing prescription drugs (pain killers). A lot of undiagnosed (and diagnosed) bipolar people abuse prescription drugs. They are basically self medicating


        reply 72 01/28/2013

        With regard to Cheers, I think Shelley got a bad rap for being a professional among a cast that thought they were magic and didn’t have to rehearse. The cast’s own accounts of post-Shelley years make it sound like the studio became a frat house with people showing up if they felt like it and screwing around when they did. I can see where there would be conflict with someone who cares about the work. As angry as they were with her back then (especially Ted Danson), he’s admitted he was afraid the show would fall apart without her and wishes he’d been more graceful at the time. Looking back, I think they would all acknowledge that she was a major factor in the show’s greatness. Too bad it seems the damage has been done to her reputation. She deserved far better.


        reply 75 01/29/2013

        I remember seeing the “Hello Again” poster in the subway and someone had scrawled across Shelley’s face: “This woman is a B****! I worked with her!”


        reply 82 01/29/2013

        Except for the Brady Bunch movies, Shelley’s film hits were all released while she was in Cheers. As soon as she left the show her career died.


        reply 83 01/29/2013

        It seems like everyone’s main problem with her was that she wanted to talk over every script for hours. Which of course is exactly what Diane would have wanted to do.


        reply 90 01/30/2013

        [R84] Her husband was the one who asked for the divorce. Apparently the last few years of the marriage, she was obsessed about trying to make a comeback and didn’t pay much attention to her husband during that time, and he felt they had grown apart and decided the marriage was over.


        reply 91 01/30/2013

        [R92] You’re right. It wasn’t the same. The Diane years were definitely better.

        Another thing I didn’t like about the post-Diane years is that the show seemed to have too much going on at once and too many continuous storylines that lasted too long.


        reply 93 01/30/2013

        Is that so bad that she wanted to talk over every script for hours? That’s why people called her a bitch and difficult or she was rude and cruel with some people who happened to be around?

        —Such a little thing makes such a big difference

        reply 94 01/30/2013

        They all wanted to move on and get to the blocking etc but Shelley would hold everything up debating every point in the script. They all got sick of it. Read the GQ piece, it’s online.


        reply 95 01/30/2013

        Danson says in that piece there was nothing mean about what she did, and that she was honestly trying to make the show better and had good ideas. But in the next breath he basically says that while he loved acting with her, he didn’t like to be around her otherwise.


        reply 96 01/30/2013

        [R90], I think you’ve hit on the head why Shelley was persona non grata and had a bad reputation for so long.

        She was an obviously professional actress and one that was invested in her work. But her traits intersected with the irritating traits of Diane Chambers, and I think at some point people kind of blurred the boundaries and were just…”she bugs the f*** out of me!”


        reply 97 01/30/2013

        I think the problem is that her kind of behavior might be fine for stage or film, but a weekly TV series has to be done on a very tight schedule and there just isn’t time for a thorough analysis of every line and action.


        reply 98 01/30/2013

        Of course, you have to wonder whether her “being difficult” is the reason those shows are so well-written. Certainly there’s enough other shows where you wonder why nobody in the writers room or cast piped up and said “This is fucking stupid.”


        reply 100 01/30/2013

        And maybe the others intersected with their characters too. It’s obvious Rhea Perlman felt the same way about Shelley that Carla felt about Diane.

        I was looking through some old Cheers articles and one piece (NY Times) pointed out that one pitfall the show avoided was changing the characters into stand-ins for the actors and their personal beliefs, the way shows like MASH or Roseanne did. Which is true, but there was obviously a lot of native overlap between Shelley and Diane.


        reply 101 01/30/2013

        She keep the rest of the cast waiting long periods while she perfected her hair and makeup. She’d have them completely redo her hair in between scenes. Someone in charge should’ve told her to speed it up, every strand of hair didn’t have to be exactly in place.


        reply 106 01/31/2013

        After watching a bunch of the old shows on Netflix (home sick!), I can kind of see why Shelley had had enough after five years. The Sam and Diane scenes were great but watching the episodes back to back, they did have a pretty repetitive dynamic — they appear to agree on something, then Diane has a problem with it, they fight, then they agree to move forward, then Sam has a problem, they fight again…. Sam’s relationship with Rebecca was less predictable, from what I recall.

        However, repetition is pretty much the way of all sitcoms…


        reply 107 02/01/2013

        Danson and Alley didn’t have much chemistry. I wonder if that’s why they didn’t make them a couple? It started out as a love-hate thing, which I assume was meant to warm up as it went on, but was scrapped ’cause there was no chemistry there. Instead, they just became good friends, though there was a time early on when Sam turned into such a lech, always proposing Rebecca and making blunt sexual references to her. He became despicable (and pathetic) to me until they scrapped the Sam/Rebecca thing entirely and just made them friends.


        reply 108 02/01/2013

        I think a big part of it too was that they changed Rebecca’s character so much — they realized she wasn’t funny as a tough businesswoman so they made her more and more neurotic and pathetic, to the point where you wouldn’t have wanted Sam to get together with her.


        reply 110 02/01/2013

        Rebecca Howe was one of the least funny characters to ever appear on an acclaimed sitcom. I think Alley was popular so some people convinced themselves that her character was funny. She was not. Alley and Danson had no chemistry and I’m glad their characters never fell in love.


        reply 115 02/01/2013

        Shelley was the best thing that could have happened to Ted Danson professionally. What she did with her character Diane made “Sam” an interesting and likable antihero. Without her, Sam was scattered and uninteresting, and Ted Danson’s acting was quite dull.


        reply 121 11/08/2014

        Hello Again and Money Pit were my childhood favorites. She must have done something right. She worked all through 80’s and 90’s. I remember young Drew Barrymore said she didn’t like working on Irreconcilable Differences, because “Long and O’Neill fought all the time”.

        —Groovy Mama

        reply 122 11/08/2014

        I enjoy Irreconcilable Differences a lot. Nice to see some mentions. Long was great (I think she was Globe nom’d for it) and O’Neal was actually good and cast well in it, too.

        Interesting that Sharon Stone would have to plug away for another decade before she became famous. If this movie had been more successful I assume it all would have happened much earlier for her. I always thought she was best at comedy, anyhow.

        [R121] I don’t totally agree with what you’re saying but I kind of get it – Danson is at his best when he is the exacerbated reactor (even in a kind of crappy movie like Mad Money) – which doesn’t make him at all untalented, but it just means that he had a very specific strength, and that yes Long did bring out the best in him.


        reply 130 11/08/2014

        Technically, Shelley Long was replaced on Cheers. However, she wasn’t let go–she left the show voluntarily. She was very popular, and Cheers was a big hit. She wanted to pursue a movie career. She had a few movie hits (Irreconcilable Differences, Outrageous Fortune), but her movie career didn’t sustain itself as she probably would have hoped.

        But Shelley was funny on Cheers. Kirstie Alley (Shelley’s “replacement”) was funny too, but Shelley’s role remains memorable


        reply 141 01/10/2015


    • I’m guessing that’s largely why the second “Brady Bunch” movie wasn’t as successful at least commercially. The whole novelty of the first movie (i.e. an affectionate parody/satire/deconstruction of a saccharine ’70s sitcom) could only go so far (especially if you weren’t a hardcore fan of “The Brady Bunch” to really appreciate the jokes).


  3. Nice unexpected post about Shelley Long and the film career that never quite took off after leaving “Cheers”.


    • I wonder if one reason why Shelley Long’s film career didn’t really take off is that in some respects, she played the same sort of character (a rich, educated, snobby, prudish woman). Maybe, “Night Shift”, which admittedly came before “Cheers” was an exception to the rule.


      • Shelley Long: Not a Dumb Blonde, Just an Odd One

        Sherryl Connelly Apr 2, 1989

        She turned down the role played by Kim Basinger in “My Stepmother Is an Alien” because she felt she couldn’t live up to the many script references to a “gorgeous” woman. (“I said `Gee, guys, this just ain’t me.”‘) In her new release, “Troop Beverly Hills” (now playing in Tulsa), she looks good, very good, but in the manner of the rich housewife she plays – buffed by money to a high sheen. Feckless Phyllis, her character, is typical of her screen class, in that she doesn’t mend her wealthy ways so much as she is able to convince others that one can be rich but worthy too.

        Long, who has been criticized for repeatedly playing a variant of her breakthrough role, barmaid Diane Chambers on TV’s “Cheers,” says she does look for a certain similarity in the characters she is willing to assume for the long haul of making a movie. She wants each to be, at heart, a good person.

        “I have no desire to play a villainess,” she says. “Why should I spend 6, 9, 12 months thinking about and feeling into a character I have no respect for? “Glenn Close says she forfeited her marriage in doing `Fatal Attraction.’ I’m not interested in forfeiting my marriage (to investment adviser Bruce Tyson. They have a 4-year-old daughter). I’ve worked pretty darn hard at my marriage, thank you very much. And I’m not going to give it up for a role in a movie.”

        Other particulars she can be particular about include whom she plays against. “I usually feel pretty strongly about leading men. Some people say anybody can play opposite anybody. I’m sorry. That is just not the case.” Long admits that given her sticking points, her checklist of yes, no, and no way, she might not have lasted in the business if she fell a peg short of stardom. Eventually she had to come by the clout that comes only at the top. “I’ve been speaking up and offering my ideas, not making demands, not insisting, but sharing opinions for all of my career.


  4. Good article. Also, funny you based your WTHH article on a TV actress who didn’t make a great transition to movies considering my next Whatever Happened To articles is also about a TV actress who didn’t make a great transition to movies, albeit one whose shows were aimed at a much younger audience


  5. Ha, it isn’t like Lebeau wasn’t objective here, although if I recall he once crushed on Shelley Long? Cool beans, because I remember her line from “Losin’ It”: “Tequila, it is to you kill you”). Plus, I loved her in “Night Shift” (probably one of my favorite films of all time) and “The Money Pit” (very relatable for me, for quite some time really:-). I don’t know, I kind of like her.
    I recently viewed the film when she played Steve Guttenberg’s sister and tried to play matchmaker with Jami Gertz (I forgot how attractive she was; I think she’s like Jennifer Connelly attractive). Wait a second, 1990’s “The Boyfriend School”. I mean, it’s terrible I guess, but I kind of liked it (I liked the cast, especially Shelley Long, who kind of carried things I felt).
    Do I find Shelley Long pretty? Well, I’ve always kind of dug Bette Midler (I have no idea why, I just do:-), so yeah, I real she has a reasonable sense of sexiness about her.
    Good article, laughed all the way through the piece.


    • You’re on to me. Long was an early crush of mine. She was a pretty blonde who claimed to like smart guys (although even on TV she kept falling for the jock). Night Shift helped.


      • Ha ha, Lebeau, this article was personal, and you Terminated it. Michael Biehn & Linda Hamilton (who I actually met, and seems likes a cool person) would be proud.


        • Funny you should bring up Linda Hamilton. You know, she has a birthday coming up.

          I know you’re kidding, but there is some truth to the joke about this article being personal. Researching the article, I got a sense of how she rubbed a lot of collaborators the wrong way. But I’m still pulling for her. I’m glad she saw her way through a difficult personal time and seems to be doing well.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Oh wow, my moment with Linda Hamilton: It was at an airport at LAX in 2006, when I was leaving from the Entertainment Electronics Expo (E3), I guess).. I was just stilling there, waiting for my flight, and this lady from the other side started chatting. So we talked for a few minutes, just like everyday people, and it took me about 20 minutes to figure out who I was talking to. I know it’s 11 years later, but I’m so glad that happened.


      • Is it me or you seem to prefer blondes? 😉


  6. I think the lesson here is that are much as you think you know, sometimes you just don’t know enough. When you are the point lady/guy for something, that doesn’t necessary mean whatever you do is correct. I do understand the attitude about wanting to command, to control. I never knew Shelley Long had a production company; it kind of changes my point of view. Shelley Long’s production company set up a few bad vehicles. Lemons, really; maybe they where in cahoots with GMC.


    • Please come up with a project for Shelley Long

      I don’t know what she’s like now but she has a reputation of being a perfectionist. She would question everything on cheers. Ken Levine was one of the writers on cheers and he says she’s a lovely person committed to her role and he appreciated her dedication. However the other actors found her exhausting. They resented how she monopolized the writers by endlessly discussing Diane, they hated how she couldn’t just do the part as written wasting hours going through it. She had to go over everything, discuss each line. If she’s still like that it might explain why the work dried up.

      Still, she’d be good in a sitcom as a prim and proper older mother.


      reply 14 01/02/2015

      No, Cheers got very lucky with Shelley. After the writers, of course, Shelley is what made the show as great as it was.


      reply 15 01/02/2015

      [R22], that’s true, Levine has always defended Shelley Long and Alan Alda as perfectionists who were dedicated to improving the show and their role. He has also said they were completely unlike Mary Tyler Moore who was difficult for the sake of it and treated fellow cast members like dirt. Ted Danson himself has said that although Long’s process was annoying he still thought she was a lovely person who was responsible for making the character of Diane memorable.


      reply 28 01/02/2015

      Her post-Cheers career has been pretty much worthless aside from being a perfectly cast Carol Brady. She surprisingly limited, considering her initial success on Cheers. And now she’s lost her looks. If she truly had it in her to make a comeback, it would’ve happened long ago.


      reply 30 01/02/2015

      [R13] She was only on the show for 5 seasons (and left almost 30 years ago) and left right before the stars of the show started getting the really big paychecks. And about 10 years ago, she got divorced and reportedly had to sell her house afterwards.

      My guess would be that she needs to work.


      reply 36 01/02/2015

      Shelley Long and Courtney seem like they could be pain in the a**es, however, they knew their craft down cold. Many of the other actors on Cheers cite Shelley, her interpretation of Diane, her work ethic, etc to the wild success and depth of what could have been just any ole comedy set in a bar. Ted Danson credits her for nearly everything.

      And Cox has worked steadily, producing her own s***, ever since Friends and she is a prolific house renovator / flipper. A very savvy (and notoriously cheap!!) business lady.

      Valerie Cherish is a dim bulb, right? I don’t watch the show.


      reply 61 01/03/2015

      What led to her being replaced on Cheers? Why didnt her film career take off? She reminds me of a real life Valerie Cherish- she just needs her real “Seeing Red.’


      reply 67 01/10/2015

      She’s a one note actress. Brady was the only thing she did where she wasn’t just Diane Chambers – and that was because she was playing Florence Henderson.

      So, she’s limited and difficult – do you really need to wonder why she’s not highly sought for roles?

      With so many opportunities, her absence from Modern Family must be due to “scheduling conflicts” because otherwise, she’s such a joy…


      reply 70 01/10/2015

      I’ve always found it odd that she has only done one guest stint on Modern Family. I’m wondering if she pissed off someone behind the scenes.


      reply 75 03/12/2016

      I think she has had 3 appearances on MF. She was fabulously zany, nothing like Diane Chambers.


      reply 77 03/13/2016

      After many viewings, her performance in “The Money Pit” is actually excellent. She is kind of a poor man’s Irene Dunne here.


      reply 92 10/30/2016

      [R67] see [R21]. Shelley thought she had a big career in films; outside playing Carol Brady quite well in The Brady Bunch Movies and a few others. She works now and again, but there was a long (heh) drought in there. She left by choice, and they brought on Kirstie to replace her.


      reply 93 10/30/2016


      • I don’t know if this matters much in the bigger picture, but Shelley Long during the height of her career was offered or tied to “Working Girl” (presumably Melanie Griffith’s role), “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (Whoopi Goldberg’s role before Shelley opted to do “The Money Pit”), and “My Stepmother Is An Alien” (Kim Basinger’s role).

        Apparently, Shelley dropped out of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” because she and the studio had “artistic differences”. The script (which later had to be rewritten on set) written by Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer was the one that was written with Shelley Long in mind as the star.


  7. Yeah, I wish my memory was like that. It’s okay, but not Merilu Henner good:-). I do take Gingko Biloba, but I don’t think I have type of muscle memory!


  8. Great post, Lebeau. “Night Shift” is an underrated gem in my book. I own the DVD. Long, Hanks, and Keaton are all great, all before they became super big.


  9. Actor/actresses that were truly blackballed?

    Shelley Long

    Complained about not doing a water scene for CHEERS over at Paramount. Her (final) tantrum cost the studio a small amount of time & money. Paramount had her blackballed.


    reply 216 an hour ago


  10. So I had a double dose of Shelley Long this morning: “Outrageous Fortune” is on the Laff channel (I did mention my fondness for Bette Midler, and Peter Coyote is in this film as well!), plus I’m trying out my new VCR (yes, I still like VCR’s;-), and put in my recording of “The Money Pit” (a tape which also has the “Miami Vice” episode ‘El Viejo’, the one which featured Willie Nelson). Shelley Long, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, I’m off to a good start today!


  11. I love these articles, which are the best part of your blog. But you’ve already analyzed practically all movie star from the ’80s and’ 90s. Maybe you could analyze stars from classic movies, as Faye Dunaway, or music stars. I love popular culture, tv, movies and music, and I think this is one of the best sites I found about this topic and you have a huge file. Congratulations.


    • Thanks for the kind words and thanks for reading. Faye Dunaway would make for a great WTHH entry. I will have to think about that one. A career like hers would take longer to research and write about, but it would definitely be an interesting read.


      • Thank you for taking my suggestion into account. That article will make me very happy. I know you only analyze movie stars careers, but it would be great if you analyleze some pop stars careers too. For example, an article about Janet Jackson and her super bowl would be awesome. I miss What the Hell Happened articles.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Call me a Faye Dunaway fan; I know it was my mother’s (still miss the mom, though it’s gotten better) favorite actress. Faye Dunaway though, I thought she had a run from about 1967-1979 in which she was as good as an actress on screen (1975’s “Three Days of the Condor”? Love it. I’m going through a Robert Redford phase right now, so the film REALLY works for me;-). Maybe it’s my genes (but not my shorts, nor sweater), but I still find her to be outstanding.


    • The destruction of Dunaway’s career is hard to figure out because she always worked and if she had any scandals they were kept private. There are theories.

      Liked by 1 person


        Faye Dunaway exploded onto the scene with Bonnie and Clyde and a subsequent Oscar nomination. She was hyped up throughout the 70s with hits like The Thomas Crown Affair, The Towering Inferno, The Three Musketeers, Chinatown, and Network (for which she won an Oscar). She got singled out by Joan Crawford, who said that she was the only actress of her generation who “has what it takes” to become a star. Prophetic words – as Faye was chosen to play Joan herself in the adaptation of her daughter’s tell-all book Mommie Dearest. What was anticipated as a hard-hitting and gritty biopic ended up a hammy unintentional comedy with the portrayal of Joan turned into a deranged cartoon character. Her hopes of winning an Oscar vanished, and the film’s reception as a So Bad, It’s Good camp classic destroyed the star’s reputation – along with stories of her being a massive primadonna on set (rumor has it that the cast and crew found her so horrible they told her there wasn’t a wrap party). She all but vanished from leading roles afterwards, with her most notable credits since being Supergirl and Dunston Checks In.


        • I like “Mommie Dearest” actually. I mean, Joan Crawford seemed liked a very powerful and revolutionary woman (not many people were single mothers in her era that had children), so I see the film as a half-truth, and I enjoyed Faye Dunaway’s performance. Then again, I first saw it as a youngster, so my perspective is likely different than what other people feel. Fresh out of the box, if I viewed it today, maybe I’d feel differently.


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