Shelley Long


  1. Dee Wallace, ET, 1981.    She lost the role of Elliot’s Ma – and the following year won Diane in Cheers to becomethe toast of the nation during 1982-1993.
  2. Whoopi Goldberg, Jumping Jack Flash, 1986.      Silly to rewrite it for her, said Whoopi. “Only I can take the material that’s already there and have some fun with it.  The producer wanted me to be the female answer to Eddie Murphy but I’m not the black, female answer to anybody.  Making that movie was a fucking terrible experience that made me an ugly person – and I didn’t like that   It’s a piece of shit that flew – for some reason.”
  3. Kirstie Alley, Cheers, TV,1982-1987        Two versions…. Take your choice  . 1. Shelley was “difficult” on-set and fired. 2. Shelley had enough after 124 episodes and decided to leave. Her replacement (in a new role) survived for 149 episodes…  To hide the fact that it was Shelley’s finale, the studio audience saw her marry Sam Malone – that then shot the real version far from the public gaze.
  4. Kim Basinger, My Stepmother Is An Alien, 1988.  OK, she was great on TV’s Cheers but could Shelley carry a movie? Columbia Pictures thought not and was so surprised by Kim Basinger’s comedic powers that it never bothered to find (or create) any other  slapstickies for her.
  5. Melanie Griffith, Working Girl, 1988.    “If you ever want to make money, do Cinderella,” said wizard director Mike Nichols. Even better if he’s directing – despite a coke-head star. (He made Her Highness Melanie Griffith pay $80,000 from her salary for having to close down shooting one night due to her wasted condition). Fox never wanted her, anyway, but Njchols was Nichols; he ruled. “She incarnated Tess and there was no great version of the movie without her,” declared producer Douglas Wick.   The earliest notion was Madonna. Mike rang producer Douglas Wick: ”Turn on your TV. Madonna’s on The Tonight  Show.  See what you think of her…” They also saw Lorraine Bracco (devastated after, she thought nailing her test), Goldie Hawn (bit old at 43), Diane Lane, Shelley Long, Demi Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker.  Plus Michelle Pfeiffer and Meryl Streep for Tess or her wicked witch boss, Katharine; won by Sigourney Weaver. (Some 26 years later, Griffith’s daughter, Dakota Johnson, headed the darker and, supposedly, more erotic version of the office power-play tale in Fifty Shades of Grey).  Thanks to Robert Altman, Shelley finally made a movie comeback in Dr T and the Women, 2000.




 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  5