American television and movie actress. She is most famous and well-known for her five-year (1982-1987) portrayal of the Spoiled Sweet
academic-turned-waitress Diane Chambers of Cheers
. She also starred in various films—typically romantic comedies—before (Night Shift
, Losin' It
) and during (The Money Pit
, Hello Again
) her time on the show, before she ultimately left the cast in 1987 to focus both on a film career and raising her daughter. Her most well-known work post-Cheers
includes Outrageous Fortune
(in which she co-starred with Bette Midler), Troop Beverly Hills
, and The Brady Bunch Movie
As a rule, particularly in The Eighties
, she's known for playing a Nice Girl
, usually Spoiled Sweet
or otherwise naive in the ways of the world
(often a Wide-Eyed Idealist
), who can be expected to end up finding herself out of her league, but nonetheless has or eventually finds the pluck
to overcome the obstacles in her Character Arc
. (Think Jimmy Stewart
as a pretty, highly feminine,
blue-eyed blonde girl....)
In 1993, she returned to television by guest-starring as Diane in the Cheers
finale. Following this, she starred in a high-rated but short-lived (due to problems with Long's health) series Good Advice
, in which she played a marriage counselor with an office next to that of a a divorce lawyer. She currently has a recurring role as a jealous Cloud Cuckoolander
ex-wife in Modern Family
Tropes associated with this actress include:
- Adorkable: Her characters often prove quite quirky and at times eccentric, but down-to-earth enough so that they rarely cross the line into Cloud Cuckoolander territory.
- Badass Adorable: Especially in Outrageous Fortune.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: In Cheers, but The Money Pit in particular seems to pay homage to "Sam & Diane" at times.
- Break the Cutie
- The Chick
- The Cutie
- Drama Queen: Her scenery-chewing moments are at once fun to watch and highly adorable.
- Enforced Method Acting: As a rule, the actors who complained about Shelley being hard to work with played characters that her characters constantly come into conflict with....
- The Heart
- High-Class Call Girl: In Night Shift.
- Ms. Fanservice: Even as late as 2000, in Dr. T And The Women. Directors sure seemed to love emphasizing her legs, in particular.
- Nice Girl: According to Ted Danson (Sam in Cheers) in particular, this also applies to Real Life—as he noted that Shelley would become distraught whenever she believed she'd hurt someone's feelings.
- Playing Against Type: In Irreconcilable Differences, which co-starred Drew Barrymore. As a rule, it's almost a given that Shelley's roles consist of sweethearted heroines in romantic comedies or generally lighthearted and heartwarming fair. This film seems to start off as such a romantic comedy...and then becomes a Black Comedy dealing with the dark side of the effects of stardom...and the tragic effects that spousal conflict can have on children (Shelley's the mother, Drew's the daughter). The film was Oscar Bait through and through—and both Shelley and Drew received nominations.
- Plucky Girl
- Silk Hiding Steel
- Spirited Young Lady: Her most famous character is something of a modern-day Trope Codifier. Diane is a self-proclaimed feminist, but is nonetheless very "ladylike" and highly romantic.
- Spoiled Sweet: in Cheers, but also in Troop Beverly Hills in particular—and played with in many of her other films.
- What Could Have Been: Good Advice was said to have been on the road to becoming a big sitcom success—and would have heralded Shelley's return to stardom after a series of minor movie hits at best, flops at worst. Sadly, problems with her health ultimately led to the show being cancelled long before its time.
- According to Shelley herself, had the staff of Cheers agreed to have Sam and Diane marry by the end of Season 5, it probably would've convinced her to stay with the show.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist
- Will They or Won't They?: Part of the Trope Codifier of Sam & Diane, in Cheers.
- Women Are Delicate