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Shelley Long’s Estranged Spouse Expected Her to ‘Survive’ The End of Their 22 Year Marriage

Laura Beatham
Nov 29, 2021
09:30 A.M.

Famous "Cheers" sitcom actress Shelley Long went through a heartbreaking divorce with her second husband that allegedly led her to want to end her life.

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Shelley Long is most known for her role as the bubbly blond waitress and college student, Diane Chambers, in the TV sitcom "Cheers." She went on to appear in several films after the sitcom ended.

However, Long never met the same fame she got from starring in "Cheers." The role earned her many acclaimed awards, including an Emmy, two Golden Globes during the early 80s.

Shelly Long as Diane Chambers in "Cheers" [Left] Shelley Long and Bruce Tyson attend the UK Premiere of "The Brady Bunch Movie," 1995,London, England [Right]. | Photo: Getty Images

Shelly Long as Diane Chambers in "Cheers" [Left] Shelley Long and Bruce Tyson attend the UK Premiere of "The Brady Bunch Movie," 1995,London, England [Right]. | Photo: Getty Images

It is no wonder the actress received so many awards. She had some of the most talked-about storylines in the TV show, including a steamy romance with Ted Danson's character, Sam Malone.

At the show's height, Long made an interesting career move and quit the show to focus on starting and building her movie career.

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She spoke of her decision to leave the show on "The Phil Donahue Show." Long explained she wanted to spend more time with her family as she said:

“ [I am] pretty much ready to devote more time to my family, and I already had my contract with Disney by that point."

Shelley Long attends the Museum of Television and Radio Cocktail Party, 2004, Beverly Hills, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Shelley Long attends the Museum of Television and Radio Cocktail Party, 2004, Beverly Hills, California. | Photo: Getty Images

However, her plan to build a successful movie career did not pan out. TIME included her decision into its Top 10 lists of hitters and quitters, describing it as one of the worst career stumbles in show business.

Long did land a few promising roles and starred alongside Bette Midler in "Outrageous Fortune" in 1987 and the 1989 comedy "Troop Beverly Hills."

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But as she entered the 90s, her career started to slow with films such as "The Brady Bunch Movie" in 1995, where she played Carol Brady, and the 2000's movie "Dr. T and The Women."

Shelley Long at the New York premiere of Artisan Entertainment's "Dr. T & The Women," 2000, New York, NY. | Photo: Getty Images

Shelley Long at the New York premiere of Artisan Entertainment's "Dr. T & The Women," 2000, New York, NY. | Photo: Getty Images

Besides a few guest appearances in TV shows and TV movie roles, Long did not appear in any high-profile productions, and so her career hit rock bottom in 2004.

Along with her career imploding, her personal life took the same route as her two-decade-long marriage with her second husband; stockbroker Byron Tyson ended in 2003.

Long first met Tyson, the president of Weston Capital Management, during a blind date in 1979. Two years later, they tied the knot and then welcomed their daughter, Juliana.

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Shelley Long a the NBC 75th Anniversary celebration at Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, 2002, New York City. | Photo: Getty Images

Shelley Long a the NBC 75th Anniversary celebration at Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, 2002, New York City. | Photo: Getty Images

The couple welcomed their only daughter in 1985. Long continued to film "Cheers" while pregnant. Production hid her growing belly by placing her behind the bar or shooting her from the waist up.

Unfortunately, Long's second marriage ended in divorce after Tyson walked out on her after twenty-two years of marriage. The separation took a toll on Long's mental health, and she suffered from depression.

Long was forced out of the couple's home in the posh Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles as it was sold. She then had to live alone while the couple went through the divorce process.

Promotional portrait of Ted Danson and Shelley Long from the TV series, "Cheers" in 1982. | Photo: Getty Images

Promotional portrait of Ted Danson and Shelley Long from the TV series, "Cheers" in 1982. | Photo: Getty Images

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According to the New York Post, she barely ate and spent long periods in bed during the months after her separation from Tyson. At the time, one friend told the media:

“It is very sad to see this woman, who is only 55, looking like she’s turning 90.”

Another friend described the situation as "someone falling off a cliff" as her mental health and depression got progressively worse over the18 months after Tyson left her.

Shelley Long as Diane Chambers on "Cheers," circa 1982 | Photo: Getty Images

Shelley Long as Diane Chambers on "Cheers," circa 1982 | Photo: Getty Images

In November 2004, she was rushed to UCLA Medical Center after overdosing on painkillers in an apparent attempt to end her life. Fortunately, she made it through the ordeal.

Four days before the incident, Long seemed okay as she filmed for a guest appearance in a thanksgiving edition of the ABC TV show, "Complete Savages."

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Following Long's suicide attempt, her ex-husband was optimistic about Long's future. He said she would be "okay" and "survive" the heartbreaking ordeal of their separation.

Shelley Long as Diane Chambers, Ted Danson as Sam Malone from "Cheers" | Photo: Getty Images

Shelley Long as Diane Chambers, Ted Danson as Sam Malone from "Cheers" | Photo: Getty Images

Despite reports that the overdose was an alleged suicide bid, Long's manager, Martin Mickelson, told the media that the overdose was because she took extra medication for her back. People reported at the time:

"Shelley took an extra pain pill for her back, which she hurt when she fell on the set of Cheers many years ago. She had a reaction to it … but she is now home, and she is fine.”

Furthermore, Mickelson denied the claims that Long's hospitalization was a suicide attempt due to her heartbreak following her broken marriage to Tyson.

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Shelley Long visits Hallmark's "Home & Family" at Universal Studios Hollywood, 2017, Universal City, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Shelley Long visits Hallmark's "Home & Family" at Universal Studios Hollywood, 2017, Universal City, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Fortunately, Tyson's prediction that his ex-wife would make it through the heartbreak seemed to be correct. In 2019, The Daily Mail reported that Long was doing well and living in a $1.3 million condo in Pacific Palisades, California, after her divorce.

Long has also been enjoying her personal life since the divorce. The former actress was spotted enjoying a day out with a male friend, shopping, and having drinks together. An eyewitness told the outlet at the time:

“No one seemed to recognize her, and I think she liked it that way.”

Shelley Long pictured as Dede on ABC's "Modern Family" - Season Nine, 2018 | Photo: Getty Images

Shelley Long pictured as Dede on ABC's "Modern Family" - Season Nine, 2018 | Photo: Getty Images

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According to locals, the actress is rarely seen out enjoying the area's local business, so the eyewitness said it was "fun to see her being [waited] on at the local watering hole here."

In terms of professional appearances, she had reunited with the cast of the hit movie "Troop Beverly Hills," released in 1989 for its thirtieth anniversary.

Shelley Long accepts Legend Award for Cheers during 2006 TV Land Awards, Santa Monica, California, United States. | Photo: Getty Images

Shelley Long accepts Legend Award for Cheers during 2006 TV Land Awards, Santa Monica, California, United States. | Photo: Getty Images

Other recent works Long has done include voicing a character in a Disney cartoon series called "Milo Murphy's Law." She also landed a recurring role in "Modern Family."

Despite suffering a terrible heartbreak in 2003, it seems Long could bounce back from the devastation and has been living a peaceful and quiet life in California.

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