Shelley Long
Shelley Long with Terrie Frankel 1996 Cable Ace Awards (cropped).jpg
Long in 1996
Shelley Lee Long

(1949-08-23) August 23, 1949 (age 73)
Alma materNorthwestern University
  • Actress
  • singer
  • comedian
Years active1971–present
Known for
  • Ken Solomon
  • Bruce Tyson
    (m. 1981; div. 2004)

Shelley Lee Long (born August 23, 1949) is an American actress, singer, and comedian. Long portrayed Diane Chambers on the hit sitcom Cheers[1] and received five Emmy nominations, winning in 1983 for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.[2] She won two Golden Globe Awards for the role.[3] 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 a recurring role as 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 Indian Village, Fort Wayne, Indiana.[4] She is the daughter and only child of Ivadine (née Williams), a school teacher, and Leland Long who worked in the rubber industry before becoming a teacher.[5] She grew up Presbyterian. 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.[6]

After graduating from South Side High School in Fort Wayne, she studied drama at Northwestern University[1] but left before graduating to pursue a career in acting and modeling. Her first job was at the university as a meal plan checker. She got her initial break as an actress when she began doing local commercials for Homemakers furniture store in the Chicago area.[7]


Early roles

In Chicago Long joined The Second City comedy troupe. In 1975, she began writing, producing, and co-hosting the television program Sorting It Out on WMAQ-TV[8] and went on to win three Regional Emmys for her work on the show.[9] She also appeared in the 1970s in VO5 shampoo print advertisements and in commercials for Camay soap as well as more Homemakers furniture commercials. In 1978 she appeared in a vignette on The Love Boat.[10]

In 1979, Long appeared in the television movie The Cracker Factory as a psychiatric inmate. In the 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.[11] The film about social unrest at Harvard University during the 1960s enjoyed a level of critical success.[12][13] In 1981, she played the role of Tala in Caveman. She played Nurse Mendenhall in a 1979 episode of M*A*S*H.[14] In 1982, she starred as Belinda, the good-natured prostitute 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 turned it down 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.[11] The show was slow to capture an audience but eventually became one of the more popular on the air. Amid some controversy, Long left Cheers after season five in 1987.[15]

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."[16][17] 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.[18]

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."[19]


While appearing on Cheers Long continued to star in motion pictures. In 1984, she was nominated for a Best Leading Actress Golden Globe for her performance in Irreconcilable Differences. She starred in a series of comedies, such as The Money Pit, Outrageous Fortune, and Hello Again. She was also offered lead roles in Working Girl, Jumpin' Jack Flash, and My Stepmother Is an Alien but did not accept those roles.[citation needed]

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.[20]

Post-Cheers projects

Long's first post-Cheers project was Troop Beverly Hills, a comedy in which she plays a housewife who takes leadership of a 'Wilderness Girl' troop to bond with her daughter and to distract herself from divorce proceedings.

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.[21]

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 about a sperm bank, which reunited her with Hello Again co-star Corbin Bernsen.

In 1992, she starred in Fatal Memories: The Eileen Franklin Story, a veridical television drama about a woman who remembers the childhood trauma of being raped by her father and his cronies, and witnessing him murder her childhood friend to prevent the child from "telling on him."[22] The still-controversial "recovered memories" basis for the prosecution resulted in the conviction and sentencing of life imprisonment of George Franklin,[23] a conviction that was later overturned.[24]

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.[25]

In 1993, the actress returned to Cheers for its series finale, and picked up another Emmy nomination for her return as Diane.[26] She also starred in the sitcom Good Advice with Treat Williams and Teri Garr, a show that lasted two seasons.[27] She later resurfaced as Diane in several episodes of the Kelsey Grammer spinoff series Frasier, for which she was nominated for another Emmy Award.[28]

Later work

Long appeared as Carol Brady in the 1995 hit film The Brady Bunch Movie which is a campy take of 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. Some ventures followed including 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.[28]

In 1999, she starred in another TV movie Vanished Without a Trace, about a woman who 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 playing Carol Brady in the TV movie The Brady Bunch in the White House.[28]

Long 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.[28] 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.[28] In 2016, Long produced and acted in the feature film Different Flowers.[29]

Personal life

Long's first marriage, to Ken Solomon, ended in divorce in the 1970s after only a few years.[30] In 1979 she met her second husband, Bruce Tyson, a securities broker. They married in 1981 and had a daughter, Juliana.[5] Long and Tyson separated in 2003 and divorced in 2004.



Year Film 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
2002 The Santa Trap Molly Emerson
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 Film 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 Movie
1979 Family Joan Phillips Episode: "Sleeping Over"
1979 Trapper John, M.D. Lauren Episode: "The Shattered Image"
1980 The Promise of Love Lorraine Simpson Movie
1980 M*A*S*H Lt. Mendenhall Episode: "Bottle Fatigue"
1981 The Princess and the Cabbie Carol Movie
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 Choice Award for Favorite Female TV Performer (1984–1985)
1990 Voices Within: The Lives of Truddi Chase Truddi Chase Movie
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 Movie
1992 A Message from Holly Kate Movie
1993–1994 Good Advice Susan DeRuzza 19 episodes
1993 Basic Values: Sex, Shock & Censorship in the 90's [sic] Fay Sommerfield Movie
1995 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Lucille Newtrich/Ultra Lucille Episode: "Ultra Woman"
1995 Welcome to Paradise Anne Movie
1995 Freaky Friday Ellen Andrews Movie
1996 A Different Kind of Christmas Elizabeth Gates Movie
1996 Susie Q Penny Sands Movie
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 Movie
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 Movie
2002 The Santa Trap Molly Emerson Movie
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 Movie
2006 Honeymoon with Mom Marla Movie
2009 Ice Dreams Harriet Clayton Movie
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 Movie
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 Movie; AKA Easy Heart
2012 Merry In-Laws Mrs. Claus Movie
2012 The Dog Who Saved the Hollidays Aunt Barbara Movie; also co-producer
2012 Switched at Birth Rya Bellows Episode: "Game On"
2013 Holiday Road Trip Cynthia Movie
2015 Instant Mom Magician Episode: "Bawamo Shazam"
2017 Christmas in the Heartland Judy Wilkins Movie
2017–2018 Milo Murphy's Law Grandma Murphy (voice) Episodes: "A Christmas Peril", "Now I Am Murphy"

Awards and nominations

Emmy Awards (Primetime)

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
1983 Cheers Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Won [31]
1984 Nominated
1985 Nominated
1986 Nominated
1993 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
1996 Frasier Nominated

Golden Globe Awards

Year Nominated work Category Result Ref.
1983 Cheers Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television Won [32]
1984 Best Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy Nominated
1985 Won [32]
Irreconcilable Differences Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated


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  13. ^ Sherwood, Rick (July 31, 1984). "TV Tonight". (Escondido, California) Times-Advocate. p. B3.
  14. ^ Winne, Judity W (November 22, 1991). "CBS lets us reflect on some golden times". (Camden, New Jersey) Courier-Post. p. 12D.
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  16. ^ "Shelley Long Biodata". AOL. Retrieved July 4, 2010.
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  18. ^ "Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Google News Archive Search".
  19. ^ "Where Are They Now Australian TV Interview". YouTube. Archived from the original on November 4, 2021.
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  21. ^ "Shelley Long". IMDb. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  22. ^ Erickson, Hal Fatal Memories (1992) Review,; accessed June 19, 2018.
  23. ^ Wadler, Joyce Exhuming the horror/For 20 Years, Eileen Franklin Repressed a Memory of Murder; Now She's Healing—and Her Father Is in Jail People, November 4, 1991
  24. ^ Workman, Bill `Memory' Case Put To Rest – No Retrial/Franklin to go free after almost 7 years,, July 3, 1996.Archived November 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "Rare Movies - A MESSAGE FROM HOLLY". Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  26. ^ Bird, J.B. Cheers/U.S. Situation Comedy The Museum of Broadcast Communications, Undated
  27. ^ Good Advice (TV Series, 1993–94), IMDb; accessed June 19, 2018.
  28. ^ a b c d e Shelley Long at IMDb
  29. ^ "Shelley Long joins road trip film 'Different Flowers'". Entertainment Weekly. July 29, 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  30. ^ Haller, Scot (February 23, 1987). "Cheers and Tears: the Long Goodbye". People. Retrieved May 24, 2012.
  31. ^ Shelley Long profile, Primetime Emmy Award Database; accessed June 19, 2018.
  32. ^ a b Shelly Long Official Website of the Annual Golden Globe Awards, undated. Archived July 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine