Shelley Long’s departure from the iconic television show Cheers in 1987 marked the end of an era for fans who had come to love her character, Diane Chambers. Long’s decision to leave the show after five seasons raised questions and speculation, but it was rooted in a desire for a career transition and a focus on her family, particularly her daughter Juliana Tyson.
Career at Cheers
Shelley Long’s portrayal of Diane Chambers, a sophisticated and intellectual character, contributed significantly to Cheers’ success. The show, initially slow to capture an audience, eventually became a hit, thanks in part to Long’s performances that added depth to the character dynamics, particularly her tempestuous relationship with Sam Malone, played by Ted Danson.
Controversy and Tension
During the Cheers biography documentary, co-star Ted Danson admitted to tension between them but clarified that it was strictly at a work level. Long and Danson had different working styles, but Danson acknowledged that Long’s performances often carried the show. Despite the tension, Long expressed in interviews that she left on good terms and had no intention of sabotaging the show.
Reasons for Departure
In a 2003 interview with Graham Norton, Shelley Long revealed that her decision to leave Cheers was driven by a variety of reasons. The most significant factor was her desire to spend more time with her toddler daughter, Juliana Tyson. Long felt confident that the rest of the cast could continue without her, and she did not want the show to become repetitive.
Following her departure from Cheers, Shelley Long ventured into various film and television projects. She starred in films such as “Hello Again” and “Troop Beverly Hills,” showcasing her versatility as an actress. Long also returned to television for the fact-based miniseries “Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase,” earning critical praise for her portrayal of a woman with multiple personalities.
Family and Personal Life
Shelley Long’s personal life played a significant role in her career decisions. She married Bruce Tyson in 1981, and they had a daughter named Juliana in 1985. Long’s commitment to her family, especially her desire to be present during her daughter’s formative years, influenced her decision to step away from the demanding Cheers schedule.
Despite the challenges of transitioning from a successful sitcom, Shelley Long continued to find success in her career. She starred in films like “The Brady Bunch Movie” and its sequel, and later had a recurring role in the popular ABC sitcom Modern Family as DeDe Pritchett.
Shelley Long’s departure from Cheers was a pivotal moment in her career, driven by a combination of professional and personal factors. Her decision to prioritize family and pursue new acting opportunities showcased her versatility and dedication to both her craft and loved ones. Long’s contributions to television and film continue to be celebrated, making her a respected figure in the entertainment industry.