Shelley Long

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Shelley Long
Shelley Long

Shelley Lee Long (born August 23, 1949 in Fort Wayne, Indiana) is an American actress. She studied drama at Northwestern University, but left before graduating to pursue a career in acting and modeling. In Chicago she joined The Second City comedy troupe. Then, in 1975, she began writing, producing, and co-hosting the popular television program "Sorting It Out". The local NBC broadcast went on to win three Emmy Awards for Best Entertainment Show.

Her first notable role came in 1980 with A Small Circle of Friends, opposite Brad Davis and Karen Allen. The film about social unrest at Harvard University during the 1960s was a critical success, though remained relatively obscure. In 1981, she played the eye candy in the pre-historic Ringo Starr vehicle Caveman, opposite Dennis Quaid. She was also featured in the Henry Winkler comedy Night Shift about life working the night shift at a city morgue. In 1979, while pursuing her acting career, Long met securities broker Bruce Tyson, who she married in October of 1981. She gave birth to her daughter, Juliana, on March 27th of 1985.

The breakthrough Long desperately needed happened when she was cast as vain barmaid, Diane Chambers in Cheers. Though innovative, the show was slow to capture an audience, but eventually became one of the most popular shows on television. She was nominated for an Emmy four years in a row and for three Golden Globes for the NBC sitcom, winning one Emmy and two Golden Globes . The series was also nominated for five Emmys and Golden Globes for Best Comedy series, winning 2 Emmys, during her five year tenure on the show. Thereafter, she became a sought-after comedic talent.

1984 brought a rare opportunity for Long to stretch her acting muscle, in the melancholy comedy-drama Irreconcilable Differences. In the story, Long's character, Lucy Van Patten marries her love, played by Ryan O'Neal and have a daughter. The two, who are in the movie business, grow apart and eventually divorce. The film follows Lucy as she breaks down and the separated couple's own daughter, played by a young Drew Barrymore, files for emancipation. Shelley Long was nominated for a Best Leading Actress Golden Globe for her performance. The film also marked the first major motion picture of rising star Sharon Stone.

Despite the clout gained through Cheers and Irreconcilable Differences, many of the roles offered to Shelley Long were pedestrian slapstick comedies. These included The Money Pit, starring a young Tom Hanks, the crime caper Outrageous Fortune featuring Bette Midler and Peter Coyote, and the universally panned Hello Again, in which Long played a woman brought back to life several years after death.

Amid much controversy, Long abandoned her trademark Diane Chambers role and the Cheers series after the season rapped in mid-1987, at the height of the series' popularity. Her first post-Cheers project was Troop Beverly Hills, where she played a housewife who starts a 'Wilderness Girl' troop as a distraction from her divorce proceedings. Despite poor reviews, the film was moderately successful.

Though Shelley Long saw critical and box office success during the 1980s, her career fell-off through the 1990s. She took several roles in forgettable films, including Don't Tell Her It's Me and Frozen Assets, which were box office disasters. In 1993 she returned to Cheers for its last three episodes, and followed with a series of mediocre television films that weren't widely received. In 1993 she starred in the short-lived sitcom Good Advice with Treat Williams and Teri Garr, but the project proved unsuccessful and was canceled after two seasons.

In 1995 she appeared in the campy big-screen remake The Brady Bunch, which was surprise hit, and breathed new life into her career as a comedienne. The following year, she reprised her role as Carol Brady in A Very Brady Sequel, which saw more modest success. Unfortunately, she followed her career revival with a series of unsuccessful television ventures, including the television remake of Freaky Friday and the family sitcom Kelly Kelly, which aired for just a few episodes on the WB. More recently, Shelly took a supporting role in the Richard Gere vehicle, Dr. T and the Women, and returned for the third Brady installment, The Brady Bunch in the White House.

In 2004, her personal life began to reflect her creative life. After over twenty years of marriage, Bruce Tyson filed for divorce. The divorce proceedings wore down the fifty-five year old actress, aggrevating a previous back injury, for which she was prescribed both pain pills and an Analgesic patch. On November 16, 2004, Long overdosed on prescription pain-killers and was admitted to UCLA Hospital for treatment, in what was an apparent suicide attempt.

While she recuperates from the debacle, she already has a new film lined up, a television romantic comedy titled Halloween Romance.

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