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Shelley Long
Shelley Lee Long

(1949-08-23) August 23, 1949 (age 74)
Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S.
Years active1971–present
Bruce Tyson
(m. 1981; div. 2004)
ChildrenJuliana Long Tyson (b. 1985)

Shelley Lee Long (born August 23, 1949) is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Diane Chambers on the sitcom Cheers,[1] for which she received five Emmy nominations, winning in 1983 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.[2] She won two Golden Globe Awards for the role.[3] Long reprised her role as Diane Chambers in four episodes of the spinoff Frasier, for which she received an additional guest star Emmy nomination. From 2009 to 2012, she had a recurring role as DeDe Pritchett on the ABC comedy series Modern Family.

Long has also starred in several films, notably Night Shift (1982), Irreconcilable Differences (1984), The Money Pit (1986), Outrageous Fortune (1987), Hello Again (1987), Troop Beverly Hills (1989), Hijinks (1993),The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), A Very Brady Sequel (1996) and Dr. T & the Women (2000).

Early life[]

Shelley Long was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1949.[4] She is the daughter of Ivadine, a school teacher, and Leland Long, who worked in the rubber industry before becoming a teacher.[5] She was active on her high school speech team, competing in the Indiana High School Forensic Association. In 1967, she won the National Forensic League's National Championship in Original Oratory.[6]

After graduating from South Side High School in Fort Wayne, she studied drama at Northwestern University,[1] but left before graduating to pursue a career in acting and modeling. Her first break as an actress occurred when she began doing commercials in the Chicago area.[7]


Early roles[]

In Chicago, she joined The Second City comedy troupe. In 1975, she began writing, producing, and co-hosting the television program Sorting It Out. The local NBC broadcast went on to win three Regional Emmys for Best Entertainment Show.[citation needed] Long also appeared in the 1970s in V05 Shampoo print advertisements, Homemakers Furniture, and Camay Soap commercials. In 1978 she guest starred in an episode of The Love Boat.

Her first notable role came in the 1979 television movie The Cracker Factory as a psychiatric inmate; the movie starred Natalie Wood. That same year she guest starred on Family and Trapper John M.D. In 1980 she appeared in her first feature film role in A Small Circle of Friends.[8] The film about social unrest at Harvard University during the 1960s was a critical success.[citation needed] In 1981, she played the role of Tala in Caveman. She played Nurse Mendenhall in a 1980 episode ("Bottle Fatigue") of M*A*S*H.

In the summer of 1982, she starred as Belinda in Ron Howard's comedy Night Shift (co-starring Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton), about life working on the night shift at a city morgue, and starred with Tom Cruise in Losin' It (1983). She was offered the role of Mary, the mother in the classic film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, but she declined because she already signed on to star in Night Shift.


Although she had already been in feature films, Long became famous for her role in the long-running television sitcom Cheers as the character Diane Chambers, who mainly has an on-and-off relationship with Sam Malone.[8] The show was slow to capture an audience but eventually became one of the most popular on the air. Amid much controversy, Long left Cheers after season five in 1987.[9]

In the Cheers biography documentary, costar Ted Danson admitted there was tension between them but "never at a personal level and always at a work level" due to their different modes of working. He also stated that Long was much more like her character than she would like to admit, but also said that her performances often "carried the show."[10][11] Long said in later interviews that it did not occur to her, when deciding to leave, that she was going to 'sabotage a show' and she felt confident that the rest of the cast could continue without her.[12]

In a 2003 interview on The Graham Norton Show, Long said she left for a variety of reasons, the most important of which was her desire to spend more time with her toddler daughter. In a 2007 interview on Australian television, Long claimed Danson was "a delight to work with" and talked of her love for costar Nicholas Colasanto ("Coach"), who was "one of my closest friends on set." She said she left the show because she "didn't want to keep doing the same episode over and over again and the same story ... I didn't want it to become old and stale." She went on to say that "working at Cheers was a dream come true ... it was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. So, yes, I missed it, but I never regretted that decision."[13]


While simultaneously appearing on Cheers, she continued starring in several motion pictures. In 1984, she was nominated for a Best Leading Actress Golden Globe for her performance in Irreconcilable Differences. She then starred in a series of comedies, such as The Money Pit, with Tom Hanks, Outrageous Fortune, with Bette Midler and Peter Coyote, and Hello Again, with Corbin Bernsen. She was also offered lead roles in Working Girl, Jumpin' Jack Flash and My Stepmother Is an Alien, but did not accept those roles.

Post-Cheers projects[]

Her first post-Cheers project was Troop Beverly Hills, a comedy in which she plays a housewife who takes leadership of a 'Wilderness Girl' troop to bond with her daughter and to distract herself from divorce proceedings.

In 1990, Long returned to television for the fact-based ABC miniseries Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase. She received critical praise for the role,[14] which required her to portray nearly 20 different personalities. This introduced her to more dramatic roles in TV films, after which she starred in several more throughout the 1990s.

Major feature film roles followed such as the romantic comedy Don't Tell Her It's Me with Jami Gertz and Steve Guttenberg and Frozen Assets, a comedy about a sperm bank, which reunited her with Hello Again co-star Corbin Bernsen.

In 1992, she starred in Fatal Memories: The Eileen Franklin Story, a fact-based television drama about a woman who remembers the childhood trauma of being raped by her father and his cronies, and witnessing him murder her childhood friend to prevent the child from "telling on him."[15] The still-controversial "recovered memories" basis for the prosecution resulted in the conviction and sentence of life imprisonment of George Franklin, Sr.,[16] a conviction that was later overturned.[17] She also appeared in A Message From Holly co-starring with Lindsay Wagner, in which she stars as a workaholic who finds out that her best friend has cancer with only six months to live, and then stays with her in her last months.

In 1993, the actress returned to Cheers for its series finale, and picked up another Emmy nomination for her return as Diane.[18] She also starred in the sitcom Good Advice with Treat Williams and Teri Garr, but the show lasted just two seasons.[19] She later resurfaced as Diane for several episodes of the Kelsey Grammer spinoff series Frasier, for which she was nominated for another Emmy Award.[20]

Later work[]

Long appeared as Carol Brady in the 1995 hit film The Brady Bunch Movie, a campy take on the popular television show. In 1996, she reprised her role in A Very Brady Sequel, which had more modest success.[20]

A series of ventures followed such as the made for TV remake of Freaky Friday, and the family sitcom Kelly Kelly, which only lasted for a few episodes. She played the Wicked Witch of the Beanstalk in a 1997 episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.[20]

In 1999 she starred in another TV drama film Vanished Without a Trace, about a woman who simply refuses to accept the kidnapping of her 13-year-old daughter and relentlessly pursues the villain's capture. (Not to be confused with the 1993 film of the same name about the 1976 Chowchilla kidnapping.)[20] In 2000, Long appeared as one of the women in the Richard Gere film Dr. T and the Women, directed by Robert Altman. She later returned for a third go-around as Carol Brady in the TV film The Brady Bunch in the White House.[20]

In recent years, she has guest starred in several TV shows such as 8 Simple Rules, Yes, Dear, Strong Medicine, and Boston Legal. She has had a recurring role on the popular ABC sitcom Modern Family as DeDe Pritchett, the ex-wife of Jay Pritchett, appearing on the show in 2009, 2011 and 2012.[20] In recent years, she has starred in made-for-television movies, including Falling in Love with the Girl Next Door and Holiday Engagement. In 2012 she made a guest appearance on Switched at Birth.[20]

In 2016, she decided to produce and act in the feature film Different Flowers.[21]

Personal life[]

Long's first marriage ended in divorce.[22] In 1979, Long met her second husband, securities broker Bruce Tyson. They married in 1981 and had a daughter, Juliana, on March 27, 1985. Another attempt at pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage in 1989.[23] She also has a stepson.[23] Long and Tyson separated in 2003 and divorced in 2004.

On November 16, 2004, Long was hospitalized for nine days after an overdose of painkillers.[24]



Year Film Role Notes
1977 The Key Voice role
1980 A Small Circle of Friends Alice
1981 Caveman Tala
1982 Night Shift Belinda Keaton
1983 Losin' It Kathy
1984 Irreconcilable Differences Lucy Van Patten Brodsky Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1986 The Money Pit Anna Crowley Beissart Fielding
1987 Outrageous Fortune Lauren Ames
1987 Hello Again Lucy Chadman
1989 Troop Beverly Hills Phyllis Nefler
1990 Don't Tell Her It's Me Lizzie Potts
1992 Frozen Assets Dr. Grace Murdock
1995 The Brady Bunch Movie Carol Brady
1996 A Very Brady Sequel Carol Brady
1998 The Adventures of Ragtime Sam
2000 Dr. T & the Women Carolyn
2007 A Couple of White Chicks at the Hairdresser Barbara Kisner
2007 Trust Me Mitzi Robinson
2008 Mr. Vinegar and the Curse Ms. Persnickety
2011 Pizza Man Mrs. Burns
2011 Zombie Hamlet Shine Reynolds Also co-producer
2013 The Wedding Chapel Jeanie Robertson
2013 Best Man Down Gail
2014 A Matter of Time Nona
2016 Different Flowers Grandma Mildred Filming; Also Producer


Year Film Role Notes
1975–1978 Sorting it Out Host (Local Chicago show) Won 3 Regional Emmy Awards
1978 That Thing on ABC Performer Variety special
1978 The Love Boat Heather McKenzie 1 Episode
1979 The Dooley Brothers Lucy Bennett Movie
1979 Young Guy Christian Mia Mishugi Movie
1979 The Cracker Factory Clara Movie
1979 Family Joan Phillips Episode: "Sleeping Over"
1979 Trapper John M.D Lauren Episode: "The Shattered Image"
1980 The Promise of Love Lorraine Simpson Movie
1980 M*A*S*H Lt. Mendenhall Episode: "Bottle Fatigue"
1981 The Princess and the Cabbie Carol Movie
Cheers Diane Chambers Won: Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1983)
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1983)
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1985)
Viewers for Quality Television Award (1985, 1986)
TV Land Awards (2006, 2007)
Nominated: Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1984, 1985, 1986)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (1993)
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1984)
1990 Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase Truddi Chase Movie
1991 The Real Story of... a.k.a. Favorite Songs The Dame (voice) Baa Baa Black Sheep
1992 Fatal Memories Eileen Franklin Lipsker Movie
1992 A Message from Holly Kate Movie
1993–1994 Good Advice Susan DeRuzza 19 episodes
1995 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Lucille Newtrich Episode: "Ultra Woman"
1995 The Women of Spring Break Anne Movie
1995 Freaky Friday Ellen Andrews Movie
1996 A Different Kind of Christmas Elizabeth Gates Movie
1996 Susie Q Penny Sands Movie
1995, 1996 Murphy Brown Dottie Wilcox 2 Episodes
1994, 1996,
Frasier Diane Chambers 3 Episodes
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (1996)
1996 Life with Louie Sally Tubbs (voice) Episode: "A Fair to Remember"
1996 Boston Common Louise Holmes Episode: "Trustee and Sympathy"
1998 Sabrina the Teenage Witch The Wicked Witch Episode: "Sabrina and the Beanstalk"
1998 Kelly Kelly Kelly Novack All 7 episodes; also co-executive producer
1998 Diagnosis Murder Kay Ludlow Episode: "Write, She Murdered"
1999 Vanished Without a Trace Elizabeth Porterson Movie
1999 Chicken Soup for the Soul Teacher Episode: "The Green Boots"
2000 Beggars and Choosers Pamela Marston Episode: "Fasten Your Seatbelts"
2002 The Brady Bunch in the White House Carol Brady Movie
2002 The Santa Trap Molly Emerson Movie
2003 8 Simple Rules Mary Ellen Doyle Episode: "The Doyle Wedding"
2003 Strong Medicine Lauren Chase Episode: "Jeaneology"
2004 Joan of Arcadia Miss Candy Episode: "Vanity, Thy Name Is Human"
2005 Boston Legal Miriam Watson Episode: "Death Be Not Proud"
2005 Yes, Dear Margaret Episode: "The New Neighbors"
2005 Complete Savages Judy 2 Episodes
2006 Falling in Love with the Girl Next Door Betsy Lucas Movie
2006 Honeymoon with Mom Marla Movie
2009 Ice Dreams Harriet Clayton Movie
2009, 2011,
2012, 2016
Modern Family DeDe Pritchett 4 Episodes: "The Incident", "Princess Party", "Arrested" "Crazy Train"
2011 Holiday Engagement Meredith Movie
2011 Retired at 35 Ginny Episode: "Hit It and Quit It"
2011 A.N.T. Farm Mrs. Busby Episode: "PhilANThropy"
2012 Strawberry Summer Eileen Landon Movie
2012 Merry In-Laws Mrs. Claus Movie
2012 The Dog Who Saved the Hollidays Aunt Barbara Movie; also co-producer
2012 Switched at Birth Rya Bellows Episode: "Game On"
2013 Holiday Road Trip Cynthia Movie

Awards and nominations[]

Emmy Awards[]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1983 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Cheers Won [25]
1984 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Cheers Nominated [25]
1985 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Cheers Nominated [25]
1986 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Cheers Nominated [25]
1993 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Cheers Nominated [25]
1996 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Frasier Nominated [25]

Golden Globe Awards[]

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1983 Best Supporting Actress (Television) Cheers Won [26]
1984 Best Actress in a TV Series (Comedy or Musical) Cheers Nominated [25]
1985 Best Actress In A TV series (Comedy Or Musical) Cheers Won [26]
1985 Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy Or Musical) Irreconcilable Differences Nominated [26]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Where Everybody Knows Your Name". Archived from the original on June 27, 2010. Retrieved July 4, 2010. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  2. Shelley Long[dead link] Primetime Emmy Award database,
  3. "New York Times". Retrieved May 24, 2012.
  4. "Names & Faces Happy Birthday". Orlando Sentinel. August 23, 1992. p. A2. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
  5. Toasting Cheers.
  6. "Original Orations",; accessed September 23, 2014.
  7. "Shelley Long profile". New York Times. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Shelley Long Biography". Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved July 4, 2010. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  9. "Shelley Long – Top 10 Quitters". TIME. July 24, 2009. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  10. Staff. "Shelley Long Biodata". Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  11. Rozen, Leah (May 11, 1987). "Ted Danson Leers Again on Cheers – Cheers, Ted Danson". People. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  12. "Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Google News Archive Search".
  13. "Where Are They Now Australian TV Interview".
  14. "Difficult Multi-Personality Role Played Expertly by Shelley Long". The Daily Gazette. May 19, 1990.[dead link]
  15. Erickson, Hal Fatal Memories (1992) Review The New York Times, Undated
  16. Wadler, Joyce Exhuming the horror / For 20 Years, Eileen Franklin Repressed a Memory of Murder; Now She's Healing—and Her Father Is in Jail People, November 4, 1991
  17. Workman, Bill `Memory' Case Put To Rest – No Retrial / Franklin to go free after almost 7 years SFGate, July 3, 1996 Archived November 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  18. Bird, J.B. Cheers / U.S. Situation Comedy The Museum of Broadcast Communications, Undated
  19. Good Advice (TV Series 1993–1994) at IMDb
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 20.6 Template:Str rightmost/ Shelley Long on IMDb
  22. Haller, Scot (February 23, 1987). "Cheers and Tears: the Long Goodbye". People. Retrieved May 24, 2012.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Toasting Cheers.
  24. "'Cheers' Star ODs in Apparent Suicide Try – Celebrity Gossip". Fox News. November 27, 2004. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 25.5 25.6 Shelley Long[dead link] Primetime Emmy Award Database,
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Shelly Long Official Website of the Annual Golden Globe Awards, undated. Archived July 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine

External links[]

Template:Primetime Emmy hosts Template:Cheers