Shelley Long, born on August 23, 1949, in Indian Village, Fort Wayne, Indiana, is an American actress, singer, and comedian with a remarkable career spanning both television and film. While she has played diverse roles throughout her career, she is most celebrated for her iconic portrayal of Diane Chambers on the hit sitcom Cheers, a role that earned her critical acclaim and multiple awards.
Early Life and Career Beginnings
Shelley Long’s journey into the world of entertainment began in her hometown of Fort Wayne. Born to Ivadine and Leland Long, she initially studied drama at Northwestern University but left before graduating to pursue acting and modeling. Her early career included local commercials for Homemakers furniture store in Chicago, showcasing her talent and paving the way for more significant opportunities.
In Chicago, Long joined The Second City comedy troupe and, in 1975, began writing, producing, and co-hosting the television program Sorting It Out on WMAQ-TV. This marked the start of a successful career, and she won three Regional Emmys for her work on the show.
Cheers: The Breakthrough Role
In 1982, Shelley Long’s career reached new heights when she took on the role of Diane Chambers in Cheers. Although the show was initially slow to capture an audience, it eventually became one of the most popular sitcoms on the air. Long’s portrayal of the sophisticated and sometimes eccentric Diane, engaged in a tempestuous relationship with Sam Malone (played by Ted Danson), earned her widespread recognition.
Despite the success, Shelley Long left Cheers after the fifth season in 1987. In various interviews, she mentioned her desire to spend more time with her toddler daughter as one of the primary reasons for her departure. However, her decision was met with controversy and speculation about tensions on set.
After leaving Cheers, Shelley Long continued to make her mark in the entertainment industry. She starred in several films, including Irreconcilable Differences (1984), The Money Pit (1986), and Outrageous Fortune (1987). In addition to her work on the big screen, Long ventured into television with projects like Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase (1990), where she portrayed nearly 20 personalities, showcasing her versatility as an actress.
Later Career and Recent Projects
Long’s career has seen a variety of roles, from reprising her character Diane in Frasier to playing Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) and its sequels. She made a notable return to television with a recurring role as DeDe Pritchett on the ABC sitcom Modern Family (2009-2018), earning praise for her performance.
In recent years, Shelley Long has continued to contribute to the entertainment industry. Her projects include the film Different Flowers (2016), where she served as a producer and actress. More recently, she starred in The Cleaner (2021) and Give Me Pity! (2022), showcasing her enduring talent and commitment to her craft.
Shelley Long’s personal life has had its share of ups and downs. Her first marriage, to Ken Solomon, ended in divorce in the 1970s. In 1981, she married Bruce Tyson, with whom she had a daughter named Juliana. Unfortunately, Long and Tyson separated in 2003 and divorced in 2004.
Legacy and Recognition
Shelley Long’s contribution to the world of entertainment is undeniable. Her portrayal of Diane Chambers in Cheers remains a highlight in television history. The accolades she received, including Emmy Awards and Golden Globes, reflect the impact of her talent on audiences and critics alike.
As Shelley Long continues to embrace new projects and showcase her versatility, her legacy endures as a testament to her enduring talent and the indelible mark she has left on the entertainment industry. Whether on the small screen or the big screen, Shelley Long’s journey is a captivating narrative of talent, determination, and a passion for the craft.
Was a national oratory champion in high school.
Joined the comedy troupe Second City in 1975.
Won three Chicago Emmy Awards as cohost for the local program Sorting It Out from 1975 to ’77.
The film debut was in 1980’s A Small Circle of Friends.