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Shelley Long
Shelley Long with Terrie Frankel 1996 Cable Ace Awards (cropped).jpg
Long in 1996
Born (1949-08-23) August 23, 1949 (age 74)
Alma mater Northwestern University
  • Actress
  • singer
  • comedian
Years active 1971–present
Known for
  • Cheers
  • Irreconcilable Differences
  • Night Shift
  • Outrageous Fortune
  • Hello Again
  • The Brady Bunch Movie
  • A Very Brady Sequel
Spouse(s) Ken Solomon
(m. 19??; div. 197?)
Bruce Tyson
(m. 1981; div. 2004)
Children 1

Shelley Long (born August 23, 1949) is an American actress, singer, and comedian. For her role as Diane Chambers on the hit sitcom Cheers, Long received five Emmy nominations, winning in 1983 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. She also won two Golden Globe Awards for the role. Long reprised her role as Diane Chambers in three episodes of the spin-off Frasier, for which she received an additional guest star Emmy nomination. In 2009, she began playing the recurring role of DeDe Pritchett on the ABC comedy series Modern Family.

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

Early life

Shelley Long was born on August 23, 1949, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She is the daughter of Ivadine, a school teacher, and Leland Long, who worked in the rubber industry before becoming a teacher. 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.

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


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 on WMAQ-TV, and went on to win three Regional Emmys for her work on the show. Long also appeared in the 1970s in VO5 shampoo print advertisements and in commercials for Homemakers Furniture and Camay soap. In 1978 she appeared in a vignette on The Love Boat.

In 1979, Long appeared in the television movie The Cracker Factory as a psychiatric inmate. 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. The film about social unrest at Harvard University during the 1960s enjoyed a level of critical success. In 1981, she played the role of Tala in Caveman. She played Nurse Mendenhall in a 1979 episode of M*A*S*H. In 1982, she starred as Belinda, the good-natured neighbor of the character portrayed by Henry Winkler in Ron Howard's comedy Night Shift (also co-starring Michael Keaton), and starred with Tom Cruise in Losin' It (1983). She was offered the role of Mary, the mother in Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, but she declined because she had already signed on to appear 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 has a tempestuous on-and-off relationship with Sam Malone. The show was slow to capture an audience but eventually became one of the more popular on the air. Long left Cheers after season five in 1987.

In the Cheers biography documentary, co-star 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 similar to her TV character than she might have liked to admit, but also said that her performances often "carried the show." 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.

In a 2003 interview with Graham Norton, 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 said Danson was "a delight to work with" and talked of her love for co-star 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 was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. So, yes, I missed it, but I never regretted that decision."


While appearing on Cheers Long continued to appear in motion pictures. In 1984, she was nominated for a Best Leading Actress Golden Globe for her performance in Irreconcilable Differences. She also starred in the comedies The Money Pit and Outrageous Fortune. She was offered lead roles in Working Girl, Jumpin' Jack Flash, and My Stepmother Is an Alien but did not accept them.

On August 12, 1986, Long signed a production agreement with The Walt Disney Studios through Itsbinso Long Inc. to produce three films for the Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Films labels.

Post-Cheers projects

Long's first post-Cheers project was Hello Again, a comedy about a housewife who is brought back from the dead. This was followed by Troop Beverly Hills, a comedy about another housewife who takes leadership of a 'Wilderness Girl' troop to bond with her daughter and distract herself from divorce proceedings. Neither film was successful with critics or at the box office.

In 1990, Long returned to television for the fact-based miniseries Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase. She received critical praise for the role, which required her to portray nearly 20 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, which reunited her with Hello Again co-star Corbin Bernsen.

In 1992, she starred in Fatal Memories: The Eileen Franklin Story.

Long starred in the 1992 film A Message from Holly with Lindsay Wagner. Long plays a workaholic who finds out that her best friend has cancer and only six months to live, 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. She also starred in the sitcom Good Advice with Treat Williams and Teri Garr, a show that lasted two seasons. She later resurfaced as Diane in several episodes of the Kelsey Grammer spinoff series Frasier, for which she was nominated for another Emmy Award.

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 modest success, and a 2002 Made for TV Movie sequel—The Brady Bunch in the White House. A series of ventures followed such as the 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 1998 episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

In 1999, she starred in another TV movie 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.) In 2000, she appeared as one of the women in the Richard Gere film Dr. T & the Women, directed by Robert Altman. She later returned for a third go-around as Carol Brady in the TV movie The Brady Bunch in the White House.

She guest-starred in several TV shows such as 8 Simple Rules, Yes Dear, Strong Medicine, and Boston Legal. She had a recurring role on the popular ABC sitcom Modern Family as DeDe Pritchett, the ex-wife of Jay Pritchett. She starred in 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. In 2016, she produced and acted in the feature film Different Flowers.

Personal life

Long's first marriage, to Ken Solomon, ended in divorce in the 1970s after only a few years. In 1979 she met her second husband, Bruce Tyson, a securities broker. They married in 1981 and had a daughter, Juliana. Long and Tyson separated in 2003 and divorced in 2004.



Year Title Role Notes
1977 The Key Narrator 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 Comedy or Musical
1986 The Money Pit Anna Crowley Beissart Fielding
1987 Outrageous Fortune Lauren Ames
1987 Hello Again Lucy Chadman Nominated – Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Movie Actress
1989 Troop Beverly Hills Phyllis Nefler
1990 Don't Tell Her It's Me Lizzie Potts
1992 Frozen Assets Grace Murdock
1995 The Brady Bunch Movie Carol Brady
1996 A Very Brady Sequel
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
2017 Different Flowers Grandma Mildred Also producer
2021 The Cleaner Sharon Enderly
2022 Give Me Pity! Baby Dog


Year Title 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 Episode: "Memories of You/Computerman/Parlez Vous?"
1979 The Dooley Brothers Lucy Bennett Unaired pilot
1979 Young Guy Christian Mia Mishugi Unaired pilot
1979 The Cracker Factory Cara Television film
1979 Family Joan Phillips Episode: "Sleeping Over"
1979 Trapper John, M.D. Lauren Episode: "The Shattered Image"
1980 The Promise of Love Lorraine Simpson Television film
1980 M*A*S*H Lt. Mendenhall Episode: "Bottle Fatigue"
1981 The Princess and the Cabbie Carol Television film
1981 Ghost of a Chance Jenny Clifford Unaired pilot
1982–1987, 1993 Cheers Diane Chambers Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1983)
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1985)
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1983)
TV Land Awards (2006–2007)
Viewers for Quality Television Award (1985–1986)
Nominated – American Comedy Award for Funniest Female Performer in a Television Series (1987)
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1984–1986)
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (1993)
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy (1984)
Nominated – People's Choice Award for Favorite Female TV Performer (1984–1985)
1990 Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase Truddi Chase Television film
1991 The Real Story of... The Dame Voice, episode: "Baa Baa Black Sheep"
1991 Memories of M*A*S*H Host Documentary
1992 Fatal Memories Eileen Franklin Lipsker Television film
1992 A Message from Holly Kate Television film
1993–1994 Good Advice Susan DeRuzza 19 episodes
1993 Basic Values: ..., Shock & Censorship in the 90's [sic] Fay Sommerfield Television film
1995 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Lucille Newtrich/Ultra Lucille Episode: "Ultra Woman"
1995 Welcome to Paradise Anne Television film
1995 Freaky Friday Ellen Andrews Television film
1996 A Different Kind of Christmas Elizabeth Gates Television film
1996 Susie Q Penny Sands Television film
1995, 1996 Murphy Brown Dottie Wilcox 2 episodes
1994, 1996, 2001 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 7 episodes; also co-executive producer
1998 Diagnosis: Murder Kay Ludlow Episode: "Write, She Murdered"
1999 Vanished Without a Trace Elizabeth Porterson Television film
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 Television film
2002 The Santa Trap Molly Emerson Television film
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 Television film
2006 Honeymoon with Mom Marla Television film
2009 Ice Dreams Harriet Clayton Television film
2009–2018 Modern Family DeDe Pritchett 8 episodes
Nominated – Gold Derby Awards for Comedy Guest Actress (2010)
Nominated – OFTA Television Award for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (2011)
2010 Family Guy Carol Brady Voice, episode: "Excellence in Broadcasting"
2011 Holiday Engagement Meredith Burns Television film
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 Television film
2012 Merry In-Laws Mrs. Claus Television film
2012 The Dog Who Saved the Hollidays Aunt Barbara Television film; also co-producer
2012 Switched at Birth Rya Bellows Episode: "Game On"
2013 Holiday Road Trip Cynthia Television film
2015 Instant Mom Magician Episode: "Bawamo Shazam"
2017 Christmas in the Heartland Judy Wilkins Television film
2017–2018 Milo Murphy's Law Grandma Murphy Voice, 2 episodes

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1982 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television Cheers Won
1983 Best Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy Nominated
1984 Won
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Irreconcilable Differences Nominated
2011 Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Modern Family Nominated
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Cheers Won
1984 Nominated
1985 Nominated
1986 Nominated
1993 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Cheers (Episode: "One for the Road") Nominated
1996 Frasier (Episode: "The Show Where Diane Comes Back") Nominated

See also

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