Inside Leah Remini’s Complicated Relationship With Kirstie Alley

Leah Remini and Kirstie Alley

Getty Leah Remini and Kirstie Alley had a tumultuous relationship.

Kirstie Alley’s death has shocked fans and celebrity friends all over the world. On December 5, 2022, the former “Cheers” star died at age 71 following a short battle with cancer.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Alley’s children, True and Lillie Parker, announced their mother’s death in a statement on social media. “We are sad to inform you that our incredible, fierce, and loving mother has passed away after a battle with cancer, only recently discovered,” Alley’s family said.

Many celebrities have shared tributes to Alley, including her longtime friend and fellow Scientologist John Travolta, who called their friendship “one of the most special relationships” he’s ever had.

But things are a bit more complicated for Leah Remini. The “Dancing with the Stars” alum used to be friends with Alley, but their disagreements over religion permanently fractured their friendship.

Here’s what you need to know:

Kirstie Alley & Leah Remini Used to Be Friendly & Even Guest Starred on Each Other’s TV Shows

In her 2015 memoir, “Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology,” Remini revealed that her mother got her and her sisters into Scientology in the late 1970s when she was 9 years old. In 2020, Alley tweeted that she joined the religion in 1978 before becoming an actress.

Remini was a devout Scientologist when she made two appearances on “Cheers” during the time that Alley played Rebecca Howe the sitcom. Remini played Serafina Tortelli in 1991 and 1993, per IMDb.

Years later, Alley guest-starred on an episode of Remini’s CBS sitcom, “The King of Queens.” In 2006, she made a guest appearance playing herself in the episode “Apartment Complex.” The episode poked fun at Alley’s real-life role as a weight-loss spokeswoman, and Remini’s character, Carrie Heffernan, was tasked to appease her celebrity client by doing things like eating donuts while Alley watched.

Though they had chemistry on “The King of Queens,” Alley and Remini were never “close to begin with,” according to Tony Ortega’s The Underground Bunker blog. The two women had a nearly 20-year age gap between them but also had in common acting, Scientology and competing on “Dancing With the Stars.”

Kirstie Alley & Leah Remini Had a Falling Out Over Scientology

Kirstie Alley

GettyKirstie Alley.

In 2013, Remini publicly made the decision to leave Scientology. In addition to making allegations of abuse and corruption within the organization, Remini publicly slammed Scientology leader David Miscavige and questioned the whereabouts of his wife, Shelly, who had not been seen in years.  She noted that she was now “shunned” by members of Scientology.

According to Closer Weekly, Alley cut ties with Remini after she defected from the church and referred to her as an “enemy” and a “bigot” during an appearance on “The Howard Stern Show.”

“I think the most repulsive thing a person can do is attack another person’s faith,” Alley said. “So when you decide to [make a] blanket statement [that] ‘Scientology is evil,’ you are my enemy. I just won’t have people in my life that are [like] that.”

Alley also denied Remini’s claim that members of Scientology are required to “shun” those who leave the church. But in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Remini doubled down on her claim that church members are not allowed to associate with her. “They aren’t allowed to talk to me. That’s the policy of the church,” she said. “I know Kirstie Alley made a comment about me, and I’m sure others will. I understand what their frame of mind is, and it’s to oppose anyone who speaks out against the church.”

While speaking on “The Howard Stern Show”, Remini said of Alley, “I know why she thinks she’s angry. But she doesn’t really know anything that I’m saying. … [Scientologists] see me as an enemy.”

Alley’s “Dancing With the Stars” partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, also revealed that she cut him out of her life over his friendship with Remini, who competed on and co-hosted the ABC celebrity ballroom show a few years after Alley. “You can thank Leah Remini for that,” Chmerkovskiy told Us Weekly of his broken friendship with Alley. “A note was sent to a friend telling me I was ‘disconnected,’ as in, I am no longer allowed to be Kirstie’s friend.”

More recently, Remini and Alley butted heads over the war in Ukraine after the “Cheers” alum refused to comment on the war but said she would “pray,” according to Newsweek.

“I don’t like to make a habit of engaging with people like @kirstiealley…but Scientology banks on its horrific, criminal policies not being called out,” Remini tweeted in February 2022. “Scientology thrives when people are silent. I won’t allow their threats to me or anyone else go un-answered.”

As of this writing, Remini had not publicly commented on Alley’s death.

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