Northwestern University drama student Shelley Long began picking up work in Chicago TV commercials in the mid-1970s. She went on to host the WMAQ-TV "magazine" program Sorting it Out, and honed her comic timing with the Second City troupe. While her actual film debut was in 1980's A Small Circle of Friends, Long prefers to list the 1981 spoof Caveman as her first film. After a handful of TV guest appearances (notably as one of Alan Alda's lady friends on MASH) and an attention-grabbing performance as a freewheeling hooker in Night Shift (1982), Long was cast as the pretentious, garrulous waitress Diane Chambers on the weekly sitcom Cheers. She won an Emmy for this role, but all was not roses on the Cheers set. According to most sources, Diane's overbearing personality spilled over into Long's off-camera behavior; when she left the series in 1987, many of the cast members, especially star Ted Danson, breathed a rather loud and public sigh of relief. Shelley Long's post-Cheers efforts to establish herself as a movie star have thus far fallen short of expectations; her most successful film assignment to date has been as retro housewife Carol Brady in 1995's The Brady Bunch: The Movie. She reprised the role of Carol in the 1996 sequel A Very Brady Sequel. She returned to the part of Diane Chambers with a guest appearance on Frasier in 1996, and she would play Carol Brady again in A Very Brady Sequel that same year. At the beginning of the next decade she had a memorable turn in Robert Altman's Dr. T & the Women, and she would appear again on Frasier in the part that made her famous. There was a third Brady Bunch movie in 2002. She appeared in light fare such as Honeymoon with Mom and A Holiday Engagement.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Was a national oratory champion in high school.
- Joined the comedy troupe Second City in 1975.
- Won three Chicago Emmy Awards as cohost for the local program Sorting It Out from 1975 to '77.
- Film debut was 1980's A Small Circle of Friends.
- Big break came when she was cast as prim barmaid Diane Chambers on Cheers in 1982.
- Left Cheers after five seasons to concentrate on films, such as The Money Pit, Outrageous Fortune and Hello Again.
- Played Carol Brady in 1995's The Brady Bunch Movie and reprised the role in two sequels.
- Made notable guest appearances on Frasier, Boston Legal and Modern Family.