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On the death of Kirstie Alley: With brute humor against stereotypes

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Fat Actress. There is hardly a better and more provocative way of summing up the ambivalence of the profession, especially for women: A “fat actress”? For a long time, that was unthinkable, especially in Hollywood.

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In 2005, Kirstie Alley wrote a series that was tailor-made for her with “Fat Actress”: Together with the screenwriter Brenda Hampton, she dealt with the misogyny and derogation that a formerly “well-known” actress experiences when she searches for normative Standards “get out of the glue” and therefore slips from all cast lists.

Slipped off the cast lists

The seven-part series was garnished with black humor and played in settings that were far removed from the ethereal wellness worlds of Gwyneth Paltrow: while her personal assistant Kirstie waxes her leg hair, the actress roars like a spit. “Does that hurt?” asks the assistant. “Yes, like giving birth!” Alley yells.

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Kirstie Alley, who was born in Kansas in 1951, did not see her calling as an actress from the start. She worked as an interior designer until the 1980s. In 1982 she played her first film role – a Vulcan officer in the second Star Trek motion picture The Wrath of Khan.

She was no longer there in the following parts, allegedly her fee demands were too high. Alley, on the other hand, had claimed she was offered less than she was offered for her first assignment on the Enterprise.

After further film and series roles, including in the very successful pub sitcom “Cheers”, she helped Scientology colleague John Travolta to make a comeback. (Alley had been a member of the cult-like association, which is particularly popular with US actors, since 1979.) In the silly but incredibly successful 1989 comedy Look Who’s Talking, Alley was able to show off her brute humor brilliantly.

The taxi driver James (Travolta), who is pouring milk from her fridge into his coffee, she once threw off the concept with a dry “It’s breast milk”. She also played the two unnecessary sequels to the idea of ​​a talking baby (Bruce Willis in the original) far removed from the cute RomCom woman type.

In addition to an addiction to cocaine, which she says she conquered through a Scientology program, Alley has had physical problems her entire life. She fasted and ate her way through various weights – and repeatedly rejected the idea of ​​being self-aware with her body, for example by working as a spokesperson for a large diet company in a media-effective manner. As a “Fat Actress” she could, it seems, generate laughs. Yet popular roles continued to go to the normatively slim.

Alley made no secret of her admiration for Donald Trump. Unlike the majority in the US entertainment industry, she supported him, and later other Republican candidates. She didn’t seem to mind being teased – maybe she had just defiantly resigned herself to it.

Alley, who has been married twice and adopted two children, died Monday after a brief battle with cancer. And even if her work remained visible – it was not her.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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