Hollywood Flashback: In 1983, the 'Cheers' Were for Shelley Long

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Long in the press room at the 35th Primetime Emmys on Sept. 25, 1983.

"I was presented my Emmy — by Tom Selleck, no less. And I’m pretty sure he gave me a kiss. … Everything after that is pretty much a blur," Long, who won lead actress in a comedy series for her role as Diane Chambers, tells THR today.

She famously walked away from Cheers in 1987 at the height of its immense popularity to pursue movies and motherhood. Nearly 30 years later, Shelley Long has yet to escape Diane Chambers. Nor should she want to: The contradictory character — a wholesome Ivy League grad reduced to slinging cocktails to pay the bills — remains one of the most enduring female archetypes of the recession-doomed Reagan Decade.

She was Emmy-nominated six times for the part (including once for her series-finale return in '93 and again for a Frasier reprise in '96) but won only once — in 1983, on her first try. Long, then 34, delivered a Diane-worthy acceptance speech. It began with one index finger outstretched and the sing-songy observation, "We are all winners tonight." She then singled out her co-star ("No actress could ask for a better partner than Ted Danson") and closed with a heartfelt thank-you to viewers and "journalists who watch us and tell others to watch us."

Looking back, the evening plays out in brushstrokes. "Barbara Stanwyck was sitting in front of me. That was very cool," recalls Long, now 66. "Then I was presented my Emmy — by Tom Selleck, no less. And I'm pretty sure he gave me a kiss. On the cheek. Everything after that is pretty much a blur."

This story first appeared in a special Emmy issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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