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From ‘Cheers’ to ‘Troop Beverly Hills’ — Take a Look at the Life and Career of Shelley Long

From Did you know she was 8 months pregnant while filming the third season of 'Cheers'?

Shelley Long, a name synonymous with charm, wit and unparalleled talent, has carved her indelible mark in Hollywood history. With a career spanning over four decades, Long’s contributions to film and television have been nothing short of remarkable. From her humble beginnings in a small town to gracing the silver screen with her unforgettable performances, Shelley Long’s story is one of passion, dedication, and boundless creativity.

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Shelley Long: Early life and breakthrough

Shelley Long was born on August 23, 1949, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Ivadine and Leland Long. Long grew up with a keen interest in the performing arts, often participating in school plays and local theater productions. She enrolled at Northwestern University in 1967 as an undergraduate studying drama. 

After completing her education, Long embarked on her journey into the world of acting. Her innate talent and magnetic presence quickly caught the attention of casting directors, paving the way for her to make her mark in both television and film.

Shelley Long Young
Shelley Long in 1982 NBC Television / Handout/Getty

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Early in her career, Long started out acting and modeling in Chicago. She became a member of the celebrated Second City troupe. She was involved in the writing, producing and co-hosting a show called Sorting It Out in 1975. The show ran for three years on a local NBC station and won three Emmy Awards for Best Entertainment Show.

Long’s early career saw her honing her craft through various television roles and small film appearances. However, it was her role as Diane Chambers in the iconic sitcom Cheers that catapulted her to stardom.

Portraying the sophisticated and intellectually inclined waitress opposite Ted Danson’s Sam Malone, Long showcased her impeccable comedic timing and knack for delivering memorable one-liners. Her portrayal of Diane earned her widespread acclaim and garnered her several prestigious awards, including two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and a Golden Globe.

Young in 1983
Shelley Long in 1983Joan Adlen Photography / Contributor/Getty

Ironically, she wasn’t a shoe-in for Diane and Danson was not a shoe-in for Sam. Long told Yahoo, ““There were three candidates each — three men and three women. And we worked with each one of the candidates. Ted was one, and I was one of the women. And then they asked us separately, ‘Which do you think you worked best with?’ And I said Ted, and unbeknownst to me, he said me. Right off the bat there was something special between us.” We can’t imagine anyone else playing the part.

There were rumors on the set that Long and Danson didn’t get along, but she told People, “We did our jobs with a caring for each other. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t days that were harder than others.”

While there has been talk about a Cheers reboot Long said she doesn’t see a reboot in her future.  She told ABC news,  “I don’t think anybody on the Cheers cast would want to do that again. It was just an amazing collection of super talented people. I don’t know how that happens or why it happens, but it really was something special.”

Long played her role on Cheers for five years.

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Shelley Long in cheers (1983)
Shelley Long in cheers (1983)Fotos International / Contributor/Getty

Did you know? Long was eight months pregnant with her daughter, Juliana Long Tyson, when she completed filming the third season of Cheers.

Life after Cheers

Following her success on Cheers, Long transitioned seamlessly into the world of film, starring in a myriad of acclaimed movies throughout the decades. In the 1980s, she solidified her status as a Hollywood darling with roles in hit comedies such as Irreconcilable Differences (1984), Outrageous Fortune (1987), and Hello Again (1987).

As the 1990s dawned, Long continued to captivate audiences with her versatility and charm. She starred in beloved family films like Troop Beverly Hills (1989) and The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), showcasing her ability to seamlessly transition between comedic and dramatic roles. Ironically, Long, who played Carol Brady, is 15 years younger than Florence Henderson and both were born and raised in Indiana.

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Her in the 1998
Shelley Long in 1998Harry Langdon / Contributor/Getty

The new millennium brought with it a new chapter in Long’s illustrious career. She continued to grace both the big and small screens with her presence, appearing in films such as Dr. T & the Women (2000) and A Very Brady Sequel (2001), as well as making guest appearances on popular television shows.

Long spoke to ABC News about playing older roles, “I don’t know how many grandmothers I’m going to play, but it is a category people are starting to think of me of appropriate in, and that’s fine.”

Did you know? Long was originally slated to play the lead character, Tess McGill, in Working Girl (1988), but it ultimately went to to Melanie Griffith, who received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for the film.

She was also slated to play the lead character, Terry Dolittle, in Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986), but instead it went to future Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg.

Shelley Long in 2011
Shelley Long in 2011Mathew Imaging / Contributor/Getty

The actresses personal life

She attributes her success to her hard work ethic, telling Yahoo, “I’m not a party girl. Taking care of myself was [always] a big part of the challenge because I would get up at 5 or 5:30. I was supposed to be the, ya know, ‘pretty girl’ — and I need a lot of work to become the pretty girl. I just do.” She said early in her career, she was known as a party pooper, because she didn’t go out and party, but instead focused on her career.

Her in 2017
Shelley Long in 2017David Livingston / Contributor/Getty

Long has been married twice. She has one daughter, actress Juliana, with ex-husband Bruce Tyson.

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