Shelley Long, born on August 23, 1949, in Indian Village, Fort Wayne, Indiana, has led a remarkable life filled with accomplishments in acting, comedy, and television. While she is widely known for her iconic role as Diane Chambers on the hit sitcom Cheers, Shelley Long’s life extends beyond her acting career. In this article, we’ll explore her personal life, career, family, and notable achievements.
Family and Early Life:
Shelley Long’s journey began in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she was raised by her parents, Ivadine and Leland Long. The only child of the family, Shelley demonstrated her early passion for performing through participation in high school speech competitions. She won the National Forensic League’s National Championship in Original Oratory in 1967, showcasing her early talent in public speaking.
Shelley Long’s career in the entertainment industry took flight in Chicago, where she joined The Second City comedy troupe. Her versatility was evident as she wrote, produced, and co-hosted the television program “Sorting It Out” on WMAQ-TV, winning three Regional Emmys for her work. This period marked the beginning of her successful career, featuring notable appearances in VO5 shampoo print ads, commercials for Camay soap, and a vignette on “The Love Boat” in 1978.
Cheers and Breakthrough:
Although Shelley Long had made her mark in feature films, it was her role as Diane Chambers in Cheers that catapulted her to stardom. Despite initial slow audience engagement, Cheers became one of the most popular shows on television. Long’s portrayal of Diane, engaged in a tempestuous relationship with Sam Malone (played by Ted Danson), earned her critical acclaim, five Emmy nominations, and two Golden Globe Awards.
Departure from Cheers:
In 1987, after five successful seasons, Shelley Long made the decision to leave Cheers. Her departure, which stirred some controversy, was influenced by her desire to spend more time with her toddler daughter, Juliana Tyson, born on March 27, 1985. Long expressed in various interviews that her decision was not intended to sabotage the show, and she believed in the cast’s ability to continue without her.
Following Cheers, Shelley Long embarked on various projects in both television and film. She starred in movies like “Outrageous Fortune,” “The Money Pit,” and “Hello Again.” Long’s post-Cheers career also included television miniseries like “Voices Within The Lives of Truddi Chase” (1990), where she received critical acclaim for portraying nearly 20 personalities.
Later Years and Return to Television:
Shelley Long’s later career featured a mix of television appearances, guest roles, and film projects. Notably, she returned to Cheers for its series finale in 1993, earning another Emmy nomination for her role as Diane. Long continued to showcase her talent in various TV shows, including a recurring role as DeDe Pritchett on the popular ABC sitcom Modern Family.
Shelley Long’s personal life included two marriages. Her first marriage to Ken Solomon ended in the 1970s, and in 1981, she married Bruce Tyson, an investment counselor. The couple welcomed their daughter, Juliana Tyson, in 1985. Unfortunately, Long and Tyson separated in 2003 and officially divorced in 2004.
Shelley Long’s journey in the entertainment industry has been marked by success, challenges, and a commitment to her craft. From her early days in Chicago to the heights of Cheers and beyond, she has left an indelible mark on the world of comedy and television. As Shelley Long continues to contribute to the industry, her legacy as an Emmy-winning actress and beloved personality endures.